Branwen Jeffeys looks at some of the key dilemmas facing the NHS.
Tuesday 8 July 2008
What responsibilities do patients have to the NHS?
To what degree should patients be held responsible for conditions which are caused by their lifestyles? Should smokers be forced to quit before they are treated for unrelated routine procedures?
When treatment is offered with conditions attached the argument is that the decisions are made on a clinical basis - a hip replacement for an obese person will be less successful - but are these really financial decisions?
Taxpayers who smoke, drink or have a BMI over 30 could argue that they’ve funded the NHS throughout their lives and that they shouldn’t be denied treatment when they need it. Is one of the founding principles of the NHS at risk if treatment becomes conditional on changing our lifestyles?
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