Unhealthy offered £20 to see GP

Unhealthy people could be given cash incentives to visit their GPs

Unhealthy people, such as those with obesity, could be offered financial incentives in a bid to get them to visit their local doctors, it has been revealed.

Health service managers say spending small amounts now could save the NHS thousands in the long run by helping to prevent conditions such as obesity, diabetes or heart disease.

The plans were revealed as part of a report discussed this week by managers of the North-East Essex primary care trust. If the scheme is successful, it could be rolled out nationwide.

Mike Gogarty, director of health at the trust, said they were looking at small one-off cash payments or vouchers such as ‘a £20 mobile phone voucher’.

It is hoped the plan will help encourage people in deprived areas with high rates of illness and poor health, to seek medical help.

Successful trials in Mexico have found a similar incentive scheme may encourage high-risk patients to see their GP.

However, the plan has been attacked by National Obesity Forum. Chairman Colin Waine said: ‘I don’t think the Health Service should be bribing people to live healthily.

‘There’s a lot of demands on the NHS – every day you read about someone who can’t get cancer drugs that could prolong survival. There’s no good looking for short-term solutions for long-term problems.’

A spokesman for the Department of Health told The Telegraph that it was ‘down to local NHS organisations to decide on how best to use their resources’.

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