What does Bracknell Think: Dr Phillip Lee's obesity commentsBy Jennie Slevin
December 11, 2012
Bracknell MP Dr Phillip Lee hit the headlines when he suggested that obese people and others who are ill through lifestyle choices should not be entitled to free health care.
The Conservative politician said action must be taken to cut NHS spending.
We asked our panel what they thought about Dr Lee’s comments.
Pat Kennewell: “This is really difficult. I do believe we should take responsibility for our own lifestyle. I like to drink and love to eat nice things, but I do know where to stop when my clothes start to get tight or I realise I have had alcohol every night this week.
“I get cross when I see people who are massively overweight and they are stuffing down a burger and fries. That said, some people have a genetic reason for being overweight.
“Somehow we must encourage some degree of self control, but how that is done I don’t know. Car fuel attracts a massive tax on each of us yet fast foods and drink do not. I can choose to eat a burger and chips, but I have to fill my car with fuel.”
Hazel Kent, who runs Bracknell Market Café: “I hope Phillip will be prepared to pay for any treatment he ever needs resulting from his outdoor pursuits.
“Where will the line be drawn? If someone smoked for 20 years and then gave up, but later developed lung cancer 20 years later, would they have to pay? If he thinks people should pay for treatment due to their lifestyle, then perhaps survivors of a plane crash would have to pay as it was their lifestyle choice that made them take a plane?
“Don’t even start me on treatment for obesity on the NHS. Why pay for surgery that can prevent many obesity-related diseases – better to let the patient develop all the diseases and land up spending even more money on their treatments than if they had spent the money in the first place and gave the patient a good quality of life.”
Terry Pearce, chairman of Defend Our Community Services Campaign (DOCS): “It is a crass and typical response by our Member of Parliament and is line with the Government’s NHS policies.
“Firstly, everyone is entitled to free healthcare, we all pay tax if eligible. This is all part of the Coalition’s NHS reforms which are aimed at privatisation and fragmentation of our NHS. This is the latest of Dr Lee’s bizarre ideas, following his proposal to build a super-hospital somewhere out near the M4.
“Instead of seeking to penalise some NHS patients could I suggest he does something to help the growing number of homeless people on his patch and the growing number of jobless in the Bracknell area?
“Apart from the immorality of his proposal, it would take an army of administrators to police his idea, as well as leaving patients untreated. Tory MPs seem to live in a different world to the rest of us – this is a good example.”
Ed Glasson, a member of DOCS: “What Dr Lee fails to understand is that, to a large extent, real choice is the prerogative only of the wealthy. People like him and his friends with incomes many times those of the average family.
“Millions of people in Britain right now are working 50 or 60 hours a week and still not making enough to live really comfortably. They haven’t chosen their lifestyle as he claims; it’s been imposed on them. And they certainly don’t have the time to ponder their diet or any exercise regime.”