Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Health - It's All YOUR Fault Says Blair

I have just watched Blair's Health Speech in Nottingham on Sky. He had the usual heckler interruption which was quite entertaining, but as for the speech, well, I couldn't quite see the point he was trying to make beyond blaming the ills of the National Health Service on all these irresponsible people who dare to fall ill. If it wasn't for them, the whole thing would be running very smoothly indeed, was his implication.

It is self evident that people should try to improve their health, but for their own sake, not for the benefit of a buregoning bureaucracy which is becoming unreformable. Governments operate for the benefit of the people, not the other way around.

Anyway, according to Patricia Hewitt, this is the NHS's best ever year. So what's Blair worried about? In his own little world the NHS is almost perfect, Iraq is a democracy, John Prescott is respected and the snow in the artic is black.

BBC Online reports: People must take more responsibility for their health to relieve pressure on the NHS, Tony Blair is expected to say. In a major speech, the prime minister will warn the service could be crippled by the cost of treating those affected by obesity, alcohol abuse and smoking. But he says government does have a role in encouraging healthier lifestyles.
The PM says he will consider banning advertising of junk food to children to boost public health, but will give the industry a chance to self-regulate. Speaking on the eve of the Nottingham speech, Mr Blair said he has become less worried that bringing in such measures would be portrayed as "nanny state" politics.
More HERE.

Of course they are Nanny State measures. And I think we've had quite enough of those courtesy of Nanny Hewitt and her ilk. What the Government can legitimately do is inform and educate, but in the end you either believe people should make their own decisions or you believe those decisions should be taken by the State. Some of what Blair was saying was very sensible, and I'm not pretending otherwise, but I think he's starting from the wrong premise.

67 comments:

Harry Basset said...

Did Blair say anything about why a supposedly National Health Service has different standards between England and Scotland? See dead tree reports today of cancer drugs available everywhere but England.

Anonymous said...

I hope his little aside about sewers in 19th Century London came from a quick web search and he didn't have a couple of civil servants in the British Library for a day digging through old maps counting outlets into the Thames.

There's probably a good one-liner about sewage and government waste, but it's too hot to think about it right now.

SteveG said...

the prime minister will warn the service could be crippled by the cost of treating those affected by obesity, alcohol abuse and smoking

Has this actually been thought through? I'm pretty sure I recall, back in the mid-1980s, reading that Mrs Thatcher was rather annoyed by the leaking of a Treasury memo in which someone had rather cold-bloodedly calculated the costs to the public purse of treating people for smoking-related diseases, lost earnings and so forth, and then set this against the revenues derived from taxes on tobacco and the money smokers' premature deaths save the NHS (since, generally, the older you are, the more medical treatment you require) and, obviously, the savings on pensions. He concluded that, at least from the Treasury's point of view, anti-smoking campaigns weren't a particularly good idea and that tax increases large enough actually to pursuade people to give up smoking in large numbers should be avoided.

Are there any recent calculations of the actual costs and benefits to the Health Service and the public purse in general of people smoking, does anyone know?

Obviously, if it did transpire that smoking is a net benefit to public finances, that wouldn't, of itself, be an argument for HMG abandoning its anti-smoking campaigns; indeed, quite possibly a campaign on the lines of 'Gordon Brown wants you to smoke as much as possible' would be very successful in pursuading folks to give up.

But it would be interesting to have the figures, I think.

beethoven writes said...

Three months ago I decided to get fit and joined a new gym. Two days later I had broken my leg cycling there and am now a new burden to the NHS!

My advice to the nation is: stay at home watching TV eating your McDonalds - it might be unhealthy but at least it's safe!

nick said...

I saw him on the news last night where he was making much the same point (about state intervention). Surely this shows he's lost the plot and is becoming increasingly Stalinist in the way he wishes the state to control everything. If he could just get his govt to actually apply existing laws and reforms rather than creating more and more realms of legislation the health service and the country generally would be far better off.

Geoffrey Brooking said...

Power to the elbow of the hecklers.

Seems as though he just about gave away what he was going to say in that interview with the Beeb on the train yesterday evening.

Blair really is a member of that School of Philosophy that (as Iain Duncan Smith once said) makes the promise, breaks the promise and then blames anyone else.

I am 24 stones and have always been of heavy build.

Yet because I don't smoke and regularly exercise my blood pressure is "absolutely fine" and have not been admitted to hospital for anything other than a broken arm 25 years ago.

Sabretache said...

So, he will consider banning junk food advertising to children eh?.

His 'BAN this BAN that BAN the other' mentality just keeps going from strength to strength doesn't it?

And just who will decide which food is 'junk' I wonder? On the basis that the manufacturers of food thus defined are likely to have very deep pockets, the deciders will need to keep a weather eye open for two consequences:

1. Cosying up to possible rich sources of the folding stuff.
2. Finding themselves on the wrong end of large damages claims.

Still nanny knows best.

Also, Agreed - Steveg's points need a thorough follow-up.

Pat McGroin said...

I would be inclined to agree with the 'personal choice' argument however if the rest of us are being asked to pay for avoidable treatment, it becomes our business too!

Dr.Doom said...

Subjects should pay for their own health care and hospital treatment.
Those that can afford it deserve the very best health.Those that can't afford it-TOUGH!!

Subjects that are well will benefit all the riches of this land.Subjects that are ill will have earned those riches for us.

David Cameron's idea of allowing rich people to pay £5000(cash)for a move up the waiting list was Caliguan, if nothing else.Poetry.

The road to better health for the rich must never be frustrated by those semi-living corpse lying in wait on hospital trolleys.
If the poor must be ill, they should wait outside until until the rich have been manicured.

Doom.

Anonymous said...

Why were Dianne Abbot, John Prescott and Charles Clarke not on the platform with Blair to model the kind of body shape that labour MP's can show the country as role models of slender trim and healthy lifestyles.

Martin Curtis said...

I think your comments are spot on Iain. In terms of improving Health the Government should be a guide not a nanny.

The next step will be to force people to take exercise.

I also believe that releasing the ties that Primary Schools have to the curriculum and getting rid of the obsession with academia in all schools would give them the freedom to focus on quality of life issues such as health and might also enable them to dedicate sufficient time to encourage children to enjoy sport.

Less control not more is the solution.

beethoven writes said...

I presume that there is an attempt at a certain element of humour in Dr Doom's comments (above) but when he is declared bankrupt and then suffers a cardiac arrest due to the shock, I think that he will have a Blairite U-turn in his opinion on healthcare and the NHS.

maggie thatcher fan said...

has he told Prezza that its about time he lost a few kilos?

nsfl said...

We can all do our bit to conserve NHS resources. Do you know of a middle-aged man who complained of a dicky ticker while at Chequers, and who then jumped the queue for treatment at Charing Cross Hospital? Go up behind him and burst a paper bag in his earhole. That will save the NHS in the long run, I promise you. Perhaps if he hadn't played all that tennis he might not have put such wear and tear on his heart. And nor would he have ended up meeting people such as Lord Sleazy, who can't have done his heart much good these last few weeks.

Verity said...

Surely it has occurred to people over the previous nine years that Tony Blair is not a stable individual? I say this in all seriousness. Blair is a fantasist and he is not rational. He thinks his insolent interference in the lives of his countrymen is a blessing for them.

That said, as long as you have an NHS, you are going to get "guidelines" and laws dictating you should live your life, under the guise of being a good guardian of the public purse. This is unanswerable. To take a vivid example, why should a Mormon - or anyone else whose tastes do not run to smoking or drinking alcohol or coffee or eating fatty foods, pay for the consequences of others who indulge in these habits? And the truth is, they shouldn't have to.

The same goes for lifestyle-based AIDS.

The NSH running down the spine of Britain has forced the people to have an infantile dependency on the state and I think the effect has been devastating.

You should dismantle this Stalinesque behemoth - the largest employer in Europe! - and hand responsibility for their health back to the people. Since the dwindling of NHS dentists, most British now have teeth that are the equal of American or Australian teeth - even though they have to pay for treatment themselves.

To hold an entire nation of 60m to ransom because some people are too feckless to look after themselves is probably the greatest con trick of the 20th and now 21st Century.

There will always be churches, synagogues and kindly charities to treat people too feckless to buy their own insurance. To hijack the health of an entire nation to cater for the weakest is not healthy.

nadders said...

2 words sum up nuLab's credibility on this issue:

John Prescott

But but but....

if you're an older fat bloke like Pressa, does shagging younger blond women replace the need to lose weight and get fit

Is that what Tony was telling us?

Welsh Spin said...

steveg is completely right. There may be moral and social reasons to encourage pweople to eat healthily, stop smoking, take more exercise etc., but it's economically illiterate to suggest that this will save the health system money. The fact that someone avoids dying in their 50's of lung cancer or coronary heart disease does not mean they will be no burden on the NHS. In fact they will probably be a far greater burden if they contract a longer term, chronic, semi-treatable condition, even leaving aside the additional pensions etc they will draw.

beethoven writes said...

Verity,

If we were to adopt the line you argue for (above), where would it all end? If you didn't drink alcohol or smoke or eat fatty food, it doesn't mean that you might never require treatment. We're not always the master of our own destiny. Sometimes we are but not always.

Would you treat a cricketer who had been hit in the face by a cricket ball? Or would you tell him that he shouldn't have been playing cricket? Where would you draw the line? It would be impossible to draft a law in that respect.

As for your comment about "lifestyle based AIDS", I'm surprised that Iain hasn't issued one of his yellow cards!

Buster George said...

Finest year for the NHS, I would love to see a member if this cabinet in any local A&E on a saturday night.

Let them watch what the staff have to put up with and then tell them that the job cuts, ward closures, increased paperwork and general abuse and assault is their best year.

I could gues that several proctologists would be called to deal with such aresholes.

The problems the NHS face have been masked over the years, give it a new coat of paint(policy) and it will look and smell fresh and new.

If as people are suggesting we all go off and invest in medical insurance, will the government stop asking me for National Insurance contributions? I don't think so, If I am paying for it I want it.

Buster George said...

Oh by the way TB's talk about the sewers of the 19th century.

Am i being cynical or is he now not only saying that after nine years his inefectivness is still the tories fault, but that he takes credit for the improvements of the sewerage system over the last century?

It's a good job he thinks Genesis is only a rock band or he would probably try to claim that one too.

Thatchersotherfan said...

Socialists working from the "wrong premiss," is the whole political mess that is modern Europe told in one.
Also.
The reason why when a socialist opines on the causes of and the answers to any problem, sensible people crap their pants, and the socialist has no idear why there is even a funny smell around. Normally they just accuse me of being an evil zionist imperialist stooge.

Verity said...

Injured Cyclist - whose injury was presumably treated on the NHS - I referred to lifestyle-related AIDS as I did because it is not any different from lung cancer, diabetes and liver disease in that the patient's lifestyle made the occurence of these diseases more likely. I cannot think why Iain would have issued a yellow card...

In the US, county hospitals offer extremely good emergency services. If you don't have health insurance and you get hit in the face with a baseball, you will be treated with great expertise. If you have a complete inability to pay, you won't have to pay. If you're employed in a low-paying job, you will be required to pay off the cost of the treatment in installments. If you're employed and solvent, you'll be expected to settle your bill right there. But the emergency service is available to all, and they are now allowed, by law, to ask about your financial circumstances until after you've been treated.

What I am saying,and I am surprised that you missed the point, is, the NHS gives the government a chance to involve itself in your lifestyle habits because the government is prudently guarding the public purse. Of course it doesn't mean you'll never get sick if you don't drink or smoke. You're going to die of something. This is the government's flim flam spiel to control you.

People should be responsible for their own health insurance and - being private companies - the insurers will assess your particular risk invidually.The NHS is a powerful state tool and I hate it.

Dr.Doom said...

The Boer war is primarily responsible for the way you distribute health.

Men recruited into the army were of poor stock and breeding.

You had an empire to cling onto and you needed good cannon fodder for the future. The answer was to distribute services, socially and the fore-runner of the NHS was born.

A country that does not look after its health, evenly, is doomed for failure.

If the rich gain all the advantages of health repair, then it is the child of the rich that must earn it. An ever decreasing circle will surely follow.

Health across the board is why your little island is disproportionately wealthier than others of the same size.

To distribute health on a life issue basis is most bizarre due to the most bizarre not knowing when or where to stop.
smokers can't have heart transplants an it therefore follows that tipplers should not have any surgery also.
Rich, non-smoking, tee-total joggers will rule the world it seems.

Doom.

Dr Spickn'span said...

Sorry, logically, there's only one way to go - ban booze, ban fags, have a diet prescribed and delivered by the state, morning exercises at 7am conducted by your local health advisers and the 10 million emplyed by the NHS can all go onto benefits. You know it makes sense....

WmByrd said...

Old age is not self-inflicted, but it is what costs and will cost the most. What is destroying the NHS is the imagined right to full health on demand and without limit; perfectionist medical and managerial ambitions then push the costs up, and individual responsibility is sapped by taking the money invisibly out of taxes. While inflating the role of the state, this makes the patient powerless, and prevents the individual from making responsible financial pre-provision to their own health, e.g. with graded insurance schemes.
The nannying trend can be reversed - but only when we insist that government stops regarding non-contributors of working age as valued 'clients', simply because they justify the continued existence of a government army of NHS, DWP, DHO and welfare officers - whose pensions are themselves another net charge on the taxpayer.

rosie said...

Will you stop picking on John Prescott.

Pedant said...

If you deal with sickness by private insurance, and there is much to recommend it, you must have automatic entry at birth at standard rate, irrespective of apparant state of health, or you will have a class of uninsurables not so created by their own actions (or lack of same). That is the expediency needed to deal with political reality.

strapworld said...

This government could save billions if they trimmed the administration side of the NHS. Do not forget there are two bodies involved The Department of Health and the NHS! (believe me) Look at the thousands of people employed within the DOH especially in Leeds, look at the amount of very glossy magazines and reports which pour out of the DOH almost on a daily basis...the amount of policies which mean that the NHS within the trusts have to employ more pen pushers to ensure those policies are applied! We have gay outreach workers, anti smoking workers are these people really necessary.

Perhaps, someone, some party, should get a clean piece of paper. Get the real professionals involved and by that I mean Doctors and Nurses, Cleaners and Catering staff.

Design a health service whereby the money from the Exchequer goes directly to each hospital trust for front line services, with a narrow
administration designed purely to ensure the majority of the money goes directly to the basics and only that.

When most Chief Executives of most Trusts are now on a salary of £100K, which pulls up the rest of the 'executive team' you can see the present problem.

Boards could be administered as a charity by local people with no payment, other than travelling expenses etc.

That no government has had the balls to get to grips with this problem is a scandal. This present Government made matters worse with the introduction of PCT's creating more chief execs and boards when they were not really needed.

Start afresh is my suggestion to the Tories (but have they the bottle?)

beethoven writes said...

Verity,

I sort of understand your point about people being responsible for their own health etc. In a way I agree with you! However, what I VERY strongly disagree with you about is the idea that we should have an American style health system over here. I don't think that there can be many people, either left wing or right wing, who can hold up the American health system as a good example of a way to run your country's healthcare!

When the chips are down, the NHS is there for you. Yes, it's by no means perfect but then no healthcare system ever would be.

The NHS comes in for so much criticism in the media which I feel is unfair.

Maybe all the people who don't agree with the principle of the NHS should carry around a card with them saying so. When they end up in casualty, then the Doctor can give you the directions for the private clinic down the road....

I'm convinced that all the people who argue for its privatisation have not been in a situation where they depend upon the NHS as a matter of life and death. If you had been, you would not argue for its abolition in a million years.

regards,

Tom

PS. Sorry Iain! I seem to be conducting a conversation through your page but surely this can only bring you ever more readers!

oldandcrabby said...

Please don't accuse me of being any sort of *ist or indulging in any sort of *ism - I am not.

Can someone explain to me how the NHS with a basically stable number of contributors can continue to provide health care for people who enter this country, legally or illegally without those people ever having contributed?

Surely this is an added burden on lifelong NI payers?

This problem has existed for many years but the number of new potential beneficiaries has increased dramatically.

I am not questioning the provision of emergency care, but apart from that?

harassed mum said...

The old ones are the best ones!

A driver is stuck in a traffic jam on the motorway. Nothing is moving.
Suddenly a man knocks on the window. The driver rolls down his window and asks, "What's going on?"

"Terrorists down the road have kidnapped Tony Blair, John Prescott, Gordon Brown and Jack Straw. They're asking for a £10 million ransom.
Otherwise they're going to douse them with petrol and set them on fire.
We're going from car to car, taking up a collection."

The driver asks, "How much is everyone giving, on average?"

"Most people are giving about a gallon."

What dreams are for!

harassed mum said...

The old ones are the best ones!

A driver is stuck in a traffic jam on the motorway. Nothing is moving.
Suddenly a man knocks on the window. The driver rolls down his window and asks, "What's going on?"

"Terrorists down the road have kidnapped Tony Blair, John Prescott, Gordon Brown and Jack Straw. They're asking for a £10 million ransom.
Otherwise they're going to douse them with petrol and set them on fire.
We're going from car to car, taking up a collection."

The driver asks, "How much is everyone giving, on average?"

"Most people are giving about a gallon."

What dreams are for!

harassed mum said...

The old ones are the best ones!

A driver is stuck in a traffic jam on the motorway. Nothing is moving.
Suddenly a man knocks on the window. The driver rolls down his window and asks, "What's going on?"

"Terrorists down the road have kidnapped Tony Blair, John Prescott, Gordon Brown and Jack Straw. They're asking for a £10 million ransom.
Otherwise they're going to douse them with petrol and set them on fire.
We're going from car to car, taking up a collection."

The driver asks, "How much is everyone giving, on average?"

"Most people are giving about a gallon."

What dreams are for!

Anonymous said...

As an ex-banker my perpsective on the speech is this.

Whenever the bank used to say 'You must take more responsibility with your plastic card and PIN', it was usually code for '..or you will end up picking up the tab if it's nicked'.

And when they said 'You really must take more care of your Internet Banking password' it was code for '..Or don't expect us to stump up when a baddie uses it to filch a couple of grand'.

I maybe cynical [moi?] but I can already see the PR spinning for the withdrawal of services to the obese / smokers / tea drinkers because as Tone says 'Well you've brought it on yourself, kids !'.

Anonymous said...

Disingenuous [now there's a word that's become indispensable when discussing Nulabour] of Tone to suggest that everyone should drink less.

I always thought the whole point of the 'longer drinking hours' legislation was to manage down the country's pension payments since smoking appears to be going out of fashion.

vikki said...

Yo Coach...!

jafo said...

So this Government (for want of a better word) encouraged schools to sell off their playing fields, and forced through 24 hour drinking in the cause of the nation's health, did it?

steppenwolff said...

Douglas Alexander on David Cameron:

"Its a lipstick on a pig strategy"

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5217766.stm

Realist said...

Where does Blair think the money comes from to pay for is perfect NHS. It comes from all us Fat, Smoking, non exercising, badly eating, driving, parking, purchasing and fined, and sometimes fined for walking on the cracks on pavements, taxpayers and he then has the brass neck to tell us how to live. At least most of us pay taxes, him and his Ministerial Cronies are forever in the news, sponging, claiming non existent expenses, paying themselves more and trying everything in their power to avoid paying taxes.

I wish he would just Bugger off and take the whole rotten lot with him, preferably where he spends most of his time, abroad.

Anonymous said...

I think Tony Blair has got it absolutely right.

You people, you voted in those awful Tories for all those years and now you expect the present government to bale you out with decent policies? No chance mate!Take your responsibility for the state of this country like a man!

as for us, we're going to carry on with Conservative policies like running down public services while we're padding out the pockets of lousy computer companies who wouldn't win a fair competitive tender if it was pushed along by Ivor the Engine - and frankly you lot can join the old Chameleon in Kabul and go to hell in a handcart.

Verity said...

Ah, the Injured Cyclist and expert on American medical care. Why, oh why, oh why are so many people so so ready to believe propaganda that defies all reason? Well, that was rhetorical actually; the reason why is, that's the way the BBC and the socialist MSM wants you to understand it.

Clearly, you have never been to the United States, otherwise you would have noted with astonishment the total lack of people dying or dead on the sidewalks, at the wheels of their cars, in department stores and restaurants. You never have to step over a single dead body or person lying on the ground shrieking with pain. Hmmm. I wonder why. Maybe because the United States has the best medical care in the world? (Actually, to be fair, it usually draws with France, but I prefer the capitalistic pattern.)

Did you read what I wrote about county hospitals earlier on this thread? They are paid for by ... the county! The taxpayer. To insure that everyone - absolutely everyone - has access to medical care. Destitute people and people in emergency situations go there. If you're in an accident, and the county hospital is the nearest medical facility to the site of your accident, the ambulance will take you there.

If you have insurance, you will probably check out and orderan ambulance to a private hospital once you're stabilised and you have filled in the forms and paid the cost of your treatment in full.

If you don't have insurance, you will probably remain there, having agreed to pay a small amount a month. If you are destitute and without insurance, you will be treated anyway. It's wards, not private rooms with phones and TVs and menus, but their expertise is the same as in private hospitals.

(I had a friend who was a chief trauma nurse in a county hospital and he decided he couldn't live with all these shrieking traumas any more and wanted a quiet life. So he quit and went to a nice suburban hospital. A month later, he was back at the country hospital, bored by little kids with football injuries. He missed running alongside trolleys with gunshot and knife victims; missed containing screaming, swearing crack whores who'd been beaten up by their pimps. To each his own.) My point being, everyone who presents himself at a county hospital will be treated. Free if they can't afford to pay.

Another thing you may not know, Injured-Cyclist-and-America-Hater, all ambulances in all 50 states are required to take trauma cases to the closest hospital unless directed otherwise. Every hospital in America, including world famous facilities, has to accept every emergency patient and cannot, by law, inquire about insurance until that patient has been stabilised. Only after the patient is well enough to respond rationally can he be questioned about insurance. If he has none, he will, when well enough to be moved safely, be transferred to a county hospital. Where he will be treated with expertise and the same drugs insured people get, but it will be like being in an NHS ward. Or maybe not quite that bad.

I am sorry about the length of this post, Iain, but this simple-minded acceptance of the Soviet-style propaganda on how awful American medicine is compared with the NHS is infuriating.

towcestarian said...

I can't understand why old-skool Tories are so averse to the Nanny State? They are the ones who were brought up by nannies and presumably coined the phrase "Nanny Knows Best".

WmByrd said...

Insurance systems operate in France, Germany and other western countries, not just in America. The hospitals and surgeries are extremely well-equipped and well-run (I worked on the continent for many years and experienced them first-hand). Their priorities are medical and ethical; capacity responds to need.

At present 90% of the time the NHS is an unresponsive, impersonal, low-grade system, with a very few high-standard exceptions for e.g. cardiac treatment.

The NHS is only one way of funding our medical system. We accepted it in the 1950s when we had a cohesive society, more young people than old, and low post-war expectations. But the system is inflexible, vulnerable to exploitation, and cannot survive the strain on its resources much longer.
We need to ask some tough questions. Why should increasingly expensive scans/treatment be 'free' to all? Why insist that morally responsible people who save for their own futures should fund e.g. patients with STIs or drinking- or fight-related injuries, or new arrivals who do not seem to have any work-skills but immediately need expensive surgery? As with pensions and welfare, there is less universal agreement than there was for pouring our tax money into a bottomless pit, while we ourselves see less and less in return for the outlay.
We need change, not more of the same state control. Of course Blair and Brown praise the NHS when it suits them - you don't think they and their families get the six-week wait, the drive all around the country, the casual reception and the public ward, do you? And the NHS and its massive state payroll is one of NuLab's main tools of power.

"Always keep a hold of nurse
For fear of finding something worse."

beethoven writes said...

Verity,

Thank you for the lecture on the american healthcare system. Gosh, I'm really shocked. I thought there were dead bodies littered all over the USA. Having never read a newspaper or watched a news broadcast on the TV I rely on bigoted people like yourself to tell me these things.

In your extensive reply, I think you're really going off on a tangent telling us about insurance procedure, where your friend used to work, ambulance rules etc. So I'm not going to try and answer your verbose points.

Obviously, you do believe in an insurance policy based system. That's fine. You are entitled to an opinion. Regular readers of this column know that you hold very strong opinions, especially on Israel (oh dear, I've mentioned the Jewish question!).

All I can say to conclude is thank God people like you have not managed to persuade the government to change their policy on the NHS.

Oh, and by the way, I will be telling all my american friends in California, Texas, New York, Georgia, Colorado and Florida your comments about me being "an american hater" as you put it.
As usual, you are making baseless comments not backed up by evidence which can only lead us to conclude that there is very little logic in your arguments.

I also think that as you have personalised this argument rather than allowing an intelligent discussion of the issues, you have rapidly lost my respect for your ability to think analytically.

Goodnight!

Verity said...

wmbyrd - They employ over a million people. They are Europe's largest employer. A million people is one helluva number of socialist clients to keep on board.

The nurses and doctors have to be weaned away from this horrible, Sovietesque system.

Surely the example of the dentists should pave the way? Few NHS dentists, yet British teeth have never looked better. Why? People will pay for what they want. British teeth are stronger, healthier, better-aligned because people have to pay - or have insurance - to go through the private sector. Duh.

I have said for years that the NHS must be destroyed - like the BBC - by which I mean evaporated. No manipulation; no equivocation; no weak half-public, half private. Get rid of this sucker. Drive a stake through its heart.

Apart from the outrageous abuses of our own people who have had contributions deducted from their wages all their lives - as in Africans coming over to give birth (free) and suddenly discovering they need a heart transplant (Melanie Phillips about five months ago), the socialists have 1m NHS worker votes in their pockets. (Did that woman get a heart transplant? I sincerely hope she didn't.)

Question to any China hands reading this: how pervasive is a national health system in China today, and how pervasive is private insurance? My guess, of course, the lowest and poorest people will be granted basic health care, but those with salaries will be on private care. China has leapfrogged Britain is my guess.

Verity said...

Injured Cyclist - I don't care if you have friends in all 50 states; you don't understand the American health system, yet you hate it. You believe the Soviet/British NHS is superior.

Why? Have you ever experienced free market healthcare?

Terry Hamblin said...

Taking care of your own health is in your own interest. Taking care of the public health is in my interest. I don't want to be at risk from TB, typhoid, diphtheria, and a host of other infectious diseases every time I go out in the street.

Whenever people cavil at paying for health care I look at what other things they spend their money on. It may be that wasting your substance on alcohol, tobacco, gambling, fast foods, gadgets, cocaine, Benidorm, and fashion clothes worn once en route to the charity shop assume a higher place in you personal economy than care for your health, well, so be it, but even in the American arrangements it is the taxpayer who eventually picks up the tab, variously through Medicare or Medicaid or the the County Hospital System.

In the long run the comunity always has some duty of care for its weaker members; the argument is about the most effective way of providing for it.

Remember that the guy who said, "Am I my brother's keeper?" had just murdered him.

beethoven writes said...

Verity,

Hoo hoo! I've just read your comments and can't stop laughing! Thank you for the comedy value.

I think that someone like yourself should write their own blog - have you ever considered it? I think that if you were to write down all your misguided opinions, it might help you with your logic processes.

You said,

"Apart from the outrageous abuses of our own people who have had contributions deducted from their wages all their lives - as in Africans coming over to give birth (free) and suddenly discovering they need a heart transplant.."

Yes, I read this story too but I think that you're making some fairly wild arguments based on one case. And income tax is an outrageous abuse? What about your contributions towards defence or education? Could I opt out if I didn't agree with the Iraq war or didn't have children? What you don't seem to understand, and Terry Hamblin makes a good point to you on this, is that public health is a collective responsibility for all of us. The fantastic thing about the current system is that all of us are covered by the care of the NHS.

The NHS offers very good value too. It has been calculated that our contributions in income tax for healthcare are actually cheaper than if all of us had private health insurance.

Chill out Verity! And enjoy the summer!


Tom

Anonymous said...

Verity says: the United States has the best medical care in the world?

Not according to the WHO it don't. The US system is 17th best, just after Poland (I think it is) The UK system is better than the US in terms of outcomes, and one's life expectancy is better in the UK as a result. (adjusted for ethnicity, age, life-style, etc.)

In terms of value for money, the US health system is about the worst there is, where per capita costs are over twice the UK yet deliver less.

I've lived in the US and Germany as well as the UK, and without doubt the best of the three by a mile is Germany, where there is universal comprehensive insurance. If (and only if) you can't pay the premiums, the government-financed Allgemeine Orts Krankenkasse (AOK) pays the insurance for you. As a result everyone has the sort of health case available only to people signed up to BUPA, etc. here.

In America, despite my being employed by a huge US oil company, hospitals refused to treat my family until they had written confirmation that we were covered by the company insurance which, being a weekend would have taken two days -- or wanted my credit card. And the 'service' (if yould call it that) -- including the food --was actually worse than the NHS.

The NHS is terrible, agreed. But the American way is absolutely not the way to go.

I think health care is the one area where free market capitalism is bound to fail. The reason is not hard to seek: the 'sellers' have all the knowledge and all the 'purchasing power' too, therefore a true market cannot operate. The Stalinist NHS is the other extreme, but apart from being less expensive is not really much better either.

If the US system rations by price, the UK system rations by queue. Either way, there is rationing.

The European way (as in Germany, but also France, etc.) seems to be the answer that works best: a market that is universal and externally regulated.

Cinnamon said...

Most obese people (BMI 30+) are fat because they are ill and limited in their ability to move, which causes them to be fat.

Someone who is sedentary due to disability needs a dietician to help with putting together a diet, because consuming ~1500 calories just about stops them from putting on weight (which is already quite a diet to stick to btw), but to lose weight, they need to go to 1000 calories, which when not carefully planned and supported will make them sick very quickly.(An extreme diet like that is basically the same as suffering from anorexia -- and the danger here is nutrition, not the amount of bodyfat!)

But do you get a dietician on the NHS to monitor and advise you? Nah, but plenty of daft advice to have more willpower, and worse (or non-happening) treatment because since you're obese, being sick is obviously your fault. It isn't just hip operations that are denied, but fat people end up at the back of the queue everytime or are ignored. An obesity induced bunion is still as painful as the bunion of someone who got theirs walking in high heels... but guess
who is going to keep limping in pain and who isn't. The list of this kind of petty and vindictive nastiness is endless.

Lumping in obesity with smoking and drinking is a big problem because it makes people think that being fat is your fault, and since it is one of the last few human conditions that can be discriminated against openly, people put all the cooped up energy and frustration into this, when they get the chance to 'enjoy' themselves by bullying with the full approval of the PC brigade.

Inganess said...

I despair of the NHS.

Having been unfortunate enough to cause the NHS grief by having a stroke at the relatively young age of 55 (no obvious cause- or none that they could tell me) and having been given minimal in-patient physiotherapy for four months, I was discharged and left to get on with finding my own private physiotherapist. ("we don't provide physio to stroke patients in the community").

However, the diet provided for recovering stroke patients in hospital was apparently unmoderated e.g. endless amounts of salt available to sprinkle on the stodgy food provided. I saw a dietician once (by chance) and asked her why the hospital diet was so unhealthy and why no advice appeared to be given to patients. Her reply "Patients wouldn't stand for it if we forced them to eat veg and salads". Talk about mixed messages and blaming patients.

Terry Hamblin said...

One of the problems of asking people to be responsible for their own health is the amount of disinformation that clouds their ability to make a choice; for example, the idea that obesity is due to a 'disease'. Stand by a supermarket checkout and count the number of confectionaries in the baskets of fat people and thin people.

By and large fat people are fat because they consume more calories than thin people. Of course output is also important, and one of the difficulties fat people have is that they find it more difficult to exercise than thin people. But exercise does not have to be weight-bearing. It is possible to get a considerable amount of exercise even lying in bed.

Diet alone will not be enough. The body adjusts its basal metabolic rate to try an conserve fat (it 'imagines' there is a cold winter coming) you have to exercise and diet.

Cinnamon said...

So Terry, how does someone with arthritis, MS or sciathica exercise then?

Obesity is a serious health problem and it can develop into an illness, especially when it combines with other health problems.

Stupid people with stupid attitudes are not helpful at all, in fact, I would say that they are one of the nastier complications and symptons of obesity.

Verity said...

Injured Cyclist (aka Injured Ego): I wasn't basing my argument on just one case, obviously. This one was the most dramatic, but there are tens of thousands of third worlders in the country with tuberculosis - unknown in Britain for 50 years. But that is an Immigration (if we still have an Immigration Department) issue. No one with a communicable disease should be admitted to Britain.

The NHS is an unpleasant, anti-democratic, anti-free choice concept and I would like to see it dismantled and private medicine take its place universally.

Anonymous 11:02 am: And you believe the figures a UN outfit publishes, do you? Of course a UN outfit is never going to put the US in the top 3 of anything - except racism, poverty, fat people, gun killings, etc ... In every other survey, the US either ties with France, with sometimes France being in No 1 slot and sometimes the US.

Medical care in France is indeed very good, although it is going bankrupt. It's against my principles, but I do admit that medical care in France is good and easily accessed and affords the patient a range of choices.

Anonymous said...

And you believe the figures a UN outfit publishes, do you? Of course a UN outfit is never going to put the US in the top 3 of anything - except racism, poverty, fat people, gun killings, etc ... In every other survey, the US either ties with France, with sometimes France being in No 1 slot and sometimes the US.

Verity, your ignorance is showing.

The WHO says what it says.

The Economist reported in May on a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showing an American's life expectancy at birth is 77.2 years compared with 78.5 for a Brit.

It revealed that middle-classs white people (chosen to eliminate ethnic and social factors) people who are between 55 and 64 years of age are a lot sicker in America than they are in England. Diabetes is twice as common: 12.5% of Americans suffer from it, compared with 6.1% in England. Cancer is nearly twice as prevalent in America, while heart disease is half as high again.

Only 7% of the middle-aged Americans in the survey lacked health insurance, while within the top third by income, access was almost universal. Yet such people were generally sicker than the top third of the English group. Insurance gaps are thus not to blame for Americans' poorer health.

Nor are unhealthy lifestyles the main culprit. Smoking rates among this age group are slightly higher in England. Obesity is more common in America, but heavy drinking is more widespread in England....

In short, the US health care system is an expensive rip-off even compard with the NHS, which is itself terrible of course.

Full story in the Economist at:

http://www.economist.com/research/articlesBySubject/displayStory.cfm?story_ID=6877069&subjectid=348945

Verity said...

No, anonymong 9:25, my "ignorance" - as defined by you - is not in evidence.

We are talking about the provision of health care, not comparing statistics on ailments, which are irrelevant to the argument.

As you rightly say, trying to make some point whose inclusion I can't quite understand as it supports my argument: "Insurance gaps are thus not to blame for Americans' poorer health." Precisely. All Americans, insured or not, have immediate access to very high quality treatment.

You just issue an list of comparison of ailments suffered by Brits and Americans. We are talking about the provision of health care.

Americans, and French, get health care on demand. They don't die of cancer while they're on the waiting list. They do in Britain. American accident victims aren't kept outside in the parking lot lying in an ambulance so the hospital can meet its "targets" on number of emergencies actually being treated at any moment.

They don't have "waiting lists" in the United States. People get treated on demand.

Anonymous said...

... trying to make some point whose inclusion I can't quite understand as it supports my argument: "Insurance gaps are thus not to blame for Americans' poorer health."

Clearly, not only is your ignorance showing, but the reason for that ignorance shows also: you don't understand English.

Once more, in simpler terms especially for you: the study deliberately chose two groups in each country to compare, that were as similar as possible. Since everybody in the UK is 'insured' and about 20% in the US are not, as best they could, they looked at a group of Americans who were almost all insured.

And even then, it turns out the average American lives 1.3 years less than the average Brit which has to be due to worse health care... and so on. Most cases of diabetes, for example, are Type 2, which are avoidable if people are gived correct medical attention and advice. But of course, most Americans, even the insured, don't get that. They certainly don't get enough here either, but the US situation really sucks.

Therefore lack of insurance was eliminated in the survey as a reason for the crap nature of the US system. Include it back in, and of course the US system would turn out to be really crap.

The French system, which unlike the German one I have not personally experienced but it's said to resemble, is in fact far better than either the US or UK systems. But within that, even the terrible UK NHS is better than the US system -- the worst health bargain in the world.

Just ask youself why it costs over twice as much per head (after adjustment for cost of living in bothe countries) to deliver worse outcomes overall, than even the NHS?

(Sorry about still using big words with more than one syllable.)

beethoven writes said...

anonymous 1243am,

Hear hear!

Iain,

what is the record for the number of comments on one of your posts? surely we must be approaching it?

Tom

Verity said...

anonymous, aka The Injured Cyclist and The Injured Ego Who Prefers to Go Undercover for Reasons of Not Wanting to Look Like A Twerp: How upset you are! Almost as though you had a stake in the NHS - one way or another.

"But within that, even the terrible UK NHS is better than the US system -- the worst health bargain in the world." By whose reckoning? Given that you've never been to the United States and are consumed with hatred for it? If you'd ever visited the US, and had an accident, I hope you would have had the spirit to immediately demand to be flown back to Britain and placed on an 18-month waiting list. So preferable to immediate high-tech treatment in America, which is too ghastly, you know!

Given your encyclopaedic knowledge of health care systems you have never experienced (but feel you are informed about because you read an article in The Economist), I assume you are aware that the best health care bargain in the world is India, with the second Thailand? And that Brits are paying for their own flights to get treatment they would have to wait a year for in Britain? Or are you of the opinion that Indian surgeons and medical care are no good? Or Thai doctors and nurses in nice clean, air-conditioned Thai hospitals with food which cheers the patient up and makes him feel that life is worth living, are no good? And Americans are no good. Hmmm .....

I've used several polysyllabic words in the above post, as my owners held up cue cards for me paw while they copied them out.

Iain Dale said...

Nowhere near. About 120 is the record.

Terry Hamblin said...

Not many of my patients with arthritis and MS are fat. Swimming is wonderful exercise for these and for those with sciatica. Unless getting wet is against their religion.

David Cameron's recipe for the health service of trusting the professional would right a lot of wrongs.

beethoven writes said...

Verity,

Any doubt that we had that you are total idiot is now eliminated. I don't know who "anonymous" (above) is but one thing I can assure you is that it's not me. He/she makes some very good points which you are unable to present any sound argument against leading you to indulge in verbal abuse. Doesn't the fact that you resort to this abuse only prove that you have lost the debate? Children, not adults, tend to behave like this! Why would I post anonymously when I've been posting with my identity all along?

Tom (no injured ego, not a twerp like you describe, you rude woman!)

Anonymous said...

Verity is my favourite political pundit - go, girl!

Verity said...

Injured Cyclist - Can dish it out but can't take it, eh?

You accuse me of a stream of deficiencies, being monsyllabic among them, and of being a "rude woman" (the ultimate!) because I responded to your points within a global reference, as we were talking about international health care, and you had no answers to my responses. And your excerpts from The Economist were simply not germane.

Indeed you have not provided a legitimate response to a single one of my points. Besides lecturing me on childlike behaviour and advising me to "chill out and enjoy the summer", what response of substance have you provided?

beethoven writes said...

Verity,

I never wrote that anonymous article about monosyllabic words nor The Economist article. I haven't even seen a copy of The Economist recently. If you don't think that calling someone a twerp is an insult, then what is?

Verity said...

Injured Cyclist - The anonymong post was written, perhaps intentionally, as though it were a continuation of your argument, by you. I apologise unreservedly for my error.

I nevertheless, still disagree strongly with your other points, in posts signed by you. But for the mistaken identity, I do apologise.

beethoven writes said...

That's ok Verity! No hard feelings.

I think you'd be surprised how much we would agree on.