A new report by centre-right think tank 2020Health has called for an end to the current “culture of entitlement” in the National Health Service as part of a crackdown on wasted resources.

According to its report Responsibility in Healthcare a “radical overhaul” of prescriptions, treatments and practices in the NHS is crucial for its future sustainability, and it makes several cut-throat recommendations to help generate the efficiency saving the Service so desperately needs to make.

For one, it suggests fining people who regularly “exploit” NHS casualty departments for the treatment of drink or drug related injuries. In addition, the health service should not offer any cosmetic surgery or treatment for conditions such as acne, and everyday drugs such as painkillers and cold remedies should also not be available, as the primary care costs for treating minor ailments is about £2 billion a year.

The report points out that the NHS spends a whopping £8 billion every year on avoidable health problems such as obesity-related conditions (£4.2 billion), alcohol abuse (£2.7 billion) and sexually transmitted infections (£1 billion), which, it argues, are all areas “where personal responsibility has failed, and the NHS acts a safety net for bad lifestyle choices”.

“The universal healthcare system is at the core of our society, but too often it is treated with the same casual regard as calling for a taxi or booking a train ticket,” said Julia Manning, Chief Executive of 2020Health and the report’s co-author, explaining the strategy. “We must encourage people to be more in control of their own health,” she stressed, as “personal accountability is key to weaning the public away from complete dependence on the NHS”.