'Smokers should go on a slower waiting list'
A TORY councillor has said the NHS should penalise people who smoke, drink or are obese – by placing them on slower NHS waiting lists.
Councillor John Butcher, who sits on Surrey County Council, said those with "self-inflicted morbidity and injury" should be driven out of Surrey by a two-speed NHS because they don't look after themselves.
He wrote: "This would encourage the self-inflicted to move away... and it would deter the self-inflicted from coming to live in Surrey."
He added that it would push house prices up in the county, and result in the "self-inflicted" patients living in areas "dominated by politicians who pander to their needs".
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"Eventually the country will be sharply divided into two types of area: the 'equality' ones, where the self-inflicted unhealthy are treated the same as all patients, and the 'others', such as, hopefully, Surrey," wrote Cllr Butcher.
His comments were written in an e-mail to his fellow Health Scrutiny Committee members.
Lib Dem councillor Fiona White said it was a "shocking statement" and referred it to the council's standards board, accusing him of bringing the council into disrepute and breaking the members' code of conduct.
When the Courier & Observer spoke to Cllr Butcher this week, he defended his comments: "Fortunately, Article 10 (Freedom of Expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights protects us all against the tyranny of suppression of free speech – a right that is particularly relevant to those who have been elected."
He added: "Does Nick Clegg support such threats to free speech?"