Manchester Council wants to explore whether drunks who are taken to A&E could be charged for health treatment. (They might not pay, but that's a separate issue.)
A leading councillor admitted charging drunks for hospital treatment could prove difficult but said the council is determined to take radical steps.More than 50,000 people a year are admitted to hospitals in Greater Manchester with alcohol-related illnesses and injuries. This is estimated to add up to some £400m annually, in Greater Manchester alone.
Project this figure across England and the total is - well - rather big.
To govern is to choose, as the saying goes. This seems a choice well worth debating - if we can find anyone to speak up for the drunks.
Implementation would undoubtedly raise all sorts of problems, but the principle seems a good one.
This wouldn't be about cutting health spending, it would be about priorities - using the available money in the way most likely to command taxpayers' support.