MPs reject NHS patient cost plans

Proposals to issue yearly statements on people's individual NHS healthcare costs have been voted down by MPs.

Conservative MP and qualified GP Dr Phillip Lee put forward the plans in the Commons, arguing it was "time to tell it as it is, not as we would wish it to be".

The MP for Bracknell asked that leave be given to bring in a Bill to require the Secretary of State to instruct general practices to issue annually to each person eligible for care provided by the National Health Service an itemised account of the cost of his or her healthcare in the preceding 12 months.

But the idea was opposed by fellow Tory Anne Main, MP for St Albans, who argued it would be "potentially profoundly divisive".

Dr Lee's Annual Statements of Healthcare Costs Bill was subsequently rejected by 176 votes to 81, a majority of 95.

He argued that healthcare costs driven upwards by an "inexorable" increase in patient demand had reached a "tipping point".

He acknowledged that advocates of change, such as himself, would face "professional and personal vilification" but added: "Where is the implicit incentive to look after oneself in the current system? It is not there."

He said: "The challenge facing the NHS is not one of supply. The demands being placed on it because of ageing, obesity and changes in health-seeking behaviour mean that governments of all political colours urgently need to bring forward plans that are truly sustainable in the longer term."

An itemised account would, he argued, lead to people being more receptive to future NHS changes and the knowledge would be "empowering".

The running costs, he said, "should be minimal", estimated at being 50p per patient per year.