Phillip Lee MP: NHS itemised account bill aimed to provoke debateBy Victoria Smith
March 07, 2012
In presenting my Ten Minute Rule Bill in the House of Commons on 22nd of February 2012, I was trying to provoke a national debate.
The Bill would have required the Secretary of State to instruct GPs to issue annually to each person eligible for care provided by the NHS an itemised account of the cost of his or her healthcare in the preceding 12 months.
Judging by the response, it certainly achieved that goal.
Previous political generations have said ‘don’t touch the NHS’.
For far too long ‘informed’ political opinion has had us all believe that it would be political suicide.
However, increased obesity, changing demographics and increased treatment costs have placed significant financial strains on the current NHS. My political generation have no option other than to face the challenge of increased healthcare costs driven by increases in patient demand.
We urgently need to bring forward plans that are truly sustainable in the longer term.
Thus, I would like to see a more informed debate, rather than one which is emotionally driven.
As I mentioned in my speech, it is time to tell it as it is, not as we would wish it to be.
The present healthcare reforms are all about modifying the supply of care.
The real challenge is on the demand side – that is why I introduced my Bill.
We desperately need a sustainable, long-term solution, so that everyone has proper access at their time of clinical need.
A new system could be better than the one we presently have.
Although services are now described as ‘free at the point of delivery’, we all know that we are actually paying for our treatments in the form of taxes and National Insurance contributions.
Healthcare is not free.
Throughout my GP career, I have increasingly encountered significant wastage of prescription drugs and failure to attend GP appointments. This cannot continue.
And before we think that our NHS system is the ‘envy of the world’, we should ask ourselves the following question – how come no-one else in the developed world has copied us?
Without doubt, outstanding care is delivered in Berkshire by doctors and nurses on a daily basis.
That doesn’t mean the system is the best that it can be.
It just means we have some of the best doctors and nurses in the world.
Raising awareness of the true costs of the NHS would allow us all to be honest about the future provision of healthcare in this country.
In attempting to optimise our healthcare system by encouraging a shift in focus from supply-side to demand-side reform, I believe that Britain could have a healthcare system that is the envy of the developed world.
Sadly, I believe that if we fail to educate people about the true expenditure on healthcare, then a system available to all generations at their time of need will not exist in the future.
By issuing annual statements showing the costs per item such as for drugs, outpatient appointments, diagnostics and treatment, Britain and the people of Bracknell constituency would be more receptive to NHS changes.
I strongly believe that knowledge is empowering – a more informed and transparent debate would follow.
That is why I presented my Bill to Parliament. Sadly, it didn’t pass this time.
It needs to soon, though. It is because I care about my country and its people that I am determined to communicate that there are better ways to provide healthcare.