July 26, 2006

Blair’s War on NHS ‘As Nanny’


TONY Blair is today expected to announce the start of a shift away from the NHS's role in a "nanny state".

A senior Downing Street source said the PM's message will be that people should take responsibility for their lifestyles.

If not, he will warn, health systems in the future will be unable to cope with rising demand caused by obesity, drinking and smoking.

The source said the speech would mark a change of emphasis away from nanny-style lectures on what to eat and drink.

Instead there will be more information so people can make better choices about diet.

He said: "Telling people how to live their lives does not work.

"We need 50 million people looking after their own health, not leaving it to one million NHS staff."

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Fiona Adshead said: "People can add years to their life by eating one extra portion of fruit and veg a day or by using stairs instead of the lift.

"We have to encourage people in these small things if they are to go on to even bigger achievements."

Mr Blair's speech will spark fears he is opening the door to a new round of cost-cutting in the NHS.

Yesterday Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt was booed on a visit to Cirencester Hospital, Glos.

At least 500 jobs and 240 beds are threatened in the county under plans to slash the pounds 40million budget.

Sister Yvonne Reeves, 48, said: "I think it is appalling that I have to stand and protest here today against a Labour government,"

Mr Blair last night praised the role private health firms could play in the future of the NHS.

On a visit to the Nottingham headquarters of Boots, he said: "We have to break down the barriers between the public and private sectors and use the expertise available."

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