Wednesday, August 19, 2009

In Defence of Lord McColl (And - Whisper It - Private Healthcare)

It's stories like THIS in today's Times, which make me despair about the quality of some of our political journalism. Full of innuendo, attempts to smear, but backed up by very little.

Lord McColl is a junior Tory health spokesman. Heard of him? No, me neither. In real life he is a surgeon. He also happens to be a consultant to Endeavour Health, a new private healthcare company that provides a fee-paying rival to the National Health Service’s family doctor service. Obviously in these NHS-loving times, that rates alongside being Jack the Ripper's handyman. Lord McColl has declared his interest in the register of members' interests, and yet The Times is insinuating that he has done something wrong. He hasn't.

I have no idea of Lord McColl's financial circumstances, but he wouldn't be alone in needing to earn a living. Contrary to popular rumour, peers to do not get paid. They get an attendance allowance of £174 £86.50 per sitting day. Last year, that would have trousered them £27,840 £14,186 . So unless you have private means, you have to have outside work. With McColl's background as a surgeon, it is hardly surprising that he has taken on a consultancy in the field of his own expertise.

Let's roam into the world of fantasy. Imagine if I were in the House of Lords (yes, we can all laugh - I don't look good in Ermine anyway). Imagine further if I were an junior front bench spokesman shadowing the DCMS. Could I exist on the attendance allowance? No. I also don't have the private means to allow me to do so. So I would have to have some sort of declarable outside income. Why shouldn't this come from my own company, which publishes Total Politics? Ah, I hear you cry, but publishing falls under the remit of DCMS. Indeed it does. But if it is all transparently declared, and people know what my role outside the House of Lords is, what's the problem? Sure, if I start making speeches calling for tax breaks for political publishers, people would be entitled to smell a very large rat, but can The Times point to any instance of McColl abusing his position to do the equivalent within his health portfolio. No. The worst that The Times can throw at him is ...
Lord McColl’s involvement with a private healthcare provider highlights the strains within the Conservative Party, which is trying to present itself as a champion of the NHS while also maintaining its traditional links with the industry.

Dear oh dear. So to demonstrate their lurrve for the NHS all Conservatives are supposed to abandon any connection with the health private sector? Next we'll be having a jihad on any Conservative politician who has the temerity to pay for health insurance.

Of course nowhere in the Times "story" did they mention Lord McColl's work for the charity Mercy Ships. Every summer Lord McColl goes to the West coast of Africa, at his own expense, and spends a couple of weeks performing operations on African children who would otherwise die.

They then have a go at another Tory health spokesman over a recent trip to the US which was finded by BUPA...
The growing links between the private sector and Tory health frontbenchers are also demonstrated by the disclosure that Mark Simmonds, a Shadow Health Minister, accepted flights and accommodation for a mission to the United States courtesy of Britain’s biggest private health provider, Bupa. The flights and accommodation bringing him to Boston were worth £4,512. He visited Massachusetts General Hospital, a medical foundation, and Health Dialog, part of Bupa, which specialises in “health coaching and shared decision-making”.

I'd call that, doing his job. This wasn't some sun-soaked jolly. It was a trip to learn more about how the health system is run in another country. Is that now a crime? The trip was fully declared. This kind of innuendo further adds to the feeling which many MPs now have, that they are damned if they do and damned if they don't. Simmonds could easily not have gone on that trip, stayed at home and learned nothing. He probably now wishes he had.

Let me use this opportunity to defend private healthcare. Its opponents are effectively saying that people like me and Gordon Brown, who use private healthcare, should not be allowed to decide how to use our own money. I use both the NHS and private health. My experience of the NHS has generally been very good. I have an excellent GP and the treatment I have had for my diabetes has been execellent. No complaints at all on that score. My experience of hospitals is somewhat different, but I won't dwell on that.

Two years ago I had to have an operation - nothing serious, you understand. I could have had it done on the NHS, but it was also covered under my private healthcare. There was a three month waiting list on the NHS, which in itself wasn't a huge issue, but I decided to have it done privately at least partyl on the basis that I then wouldn't further clog up the NHS system and someone else could use my place in the queue. Was I wrong to that, as no doubt some would allege? I felt I was doing the right thing and thinking of others.

Is Gordon Brown wrong to use private health for his dentistry needs? We have to get away from this system of health apartheid, where NHS fundamentalists would seriously suggest that there should be no interaction between the NHS and the private sector at all. Conversely, those who believe the state should have no role in the provision of healthcare also need to be taken on. The state does indeed have a role - the debate is about how large that role should be and whether it should actively denigrate and discourage the use of private healthcare. And it is a debate we should be able to have without the likes of Andy Burnham trying to prevent it from happening.

UPDATE: I made a mistake in the House of Lords allowances. They are not £174 per day, the attendance allowance is, in fact £86.50. There is a £174 overnight allowance, which only applies to Peers who live outside London. As someone has pointed out in the Comments, Lord McColl has not claimed this.

UPDATE 7.30pm: Julia Manning blogs on this on Centre Right.

83 comments:

Philip Marlowe said...

You seem to know an awful lot about someone you have never heard of.

Iain Dale said...

Yes, amazing what you can find out when you bother to try, isn't it?

Lola said...

The NHS has two roles. One it is emblamatic to the Left of the 'success' of state service provision. For it to be reformed or fail would leave them with nowhere to go, philosophically. Two, it's other main use for th left is a giant spin and political frightener opportunity with which to demonise the right, specifically the Tories.

The left generally could not give a load of dingos kidneys whether or not the NHS actually did patients any good. They are more interested in the opportunities for producer capture and vote buying in the client state.

Andrew Cooper said...

Straw man, Mr Dale. Many of those who support the NHS have no problem with private sector provision. Many of the improvements of recent years have been achieved via intelligent use of private contactors, for example. And only your supposed 'NHS fundamentalists' would oppose the idea of private insurance and care.

So far as dentristry is concerned, few have the option of using an NHS dentist.

What the non-fundies amongst us want is the NHS and private sector living alongside each other in a symbiotic relationship.

You'll find more fundementalists on the NHS hating side of the fence. Like this peculiar specimen, for example: http://hodg.co.uk/

Rexel No 56 said...

Iain

On reading the Times article, my first thought was:

"Did the journalist do his own digging here, or was the story fed to the journalist, ready to publish, by someone connected to the government?"

The cynic in me says the latter, yet the apparently close connections between the Times political staff and Labour are contradicted by today's editorial in praise of Cameron and his impact on the party.

It seems that Murdoch wants to go Tory at the next election but some of the troops are fighting a rearguard battle.

R56

Bent as a corkscrew said...

I don't have a problem with private healthcare. I do have a problem with the conflict of interest that you describe - even if the conflict is declared.

Why so? you would reasonably ask. The answer is that the indiviual in question is part of a shadow team that is hoping for power soon. As we know Ministers are not meant to have such conflicts of interest, however can any individual realistically divest themselves of all aspects such a conflict immediately upon being called to kiss hands? Or will a residual bias remain?

It is all part of reducing the bent nature of decison making we currently see - as for example in the decision to turn off all FM and AM Radio in 2015 just to suit some manufacturers who cannot sell their cr*p products. The listeners' wishes count for nothing with this administration.

Doug said...

The NHS fundamentalists don't care about health only the institution. They don't want everyone to experience world class healthcare only that the examples of piss poor healthcare in the NHS be spread evenly across the classes. It's as Churchill said about socialism that the NHS fundamentalists exist solely to spread misery.

Matthew Dear said...

A very thought provoking piece. I suspect that people reading this who had made their minds up will be forced to think again - as I have. What they will then conclude it anybody's guess! It's a knotty issue.

Jerry Hayes said...

Absolutely spot on. MacColl is a thoroughly honourable man who used to be John Major's PPS in the Lords. There has always been links between private healthcare and the NHS. It was actively encouraged by Nye Bevan from the start.

donpaskini said...

Hi Iain,

Just worth noting that most people in this country manage to "exist" on less than £27,840 per year (it is more than the average salary), your piece seems to assume that anyone in this situation needs to have private means or other sources of income.

Clearly, a qualified surgeon can earn a lot more than the average wage, and as long as he declares it then I don't see any problem - but there is a disconnect when people in Westminster just assume that no one could possibly afford to live on the average wage.

JuliaM said...

Who's going to pay much attention to 'The Times' anymore?

"The left generally could not give a load of dingos kidneys whether or not the NHS actually did patients any good."

Never a truer word...

"So far as dentristry is concerned, few have the option of using an NHS dentist."

Tell us why, Andrew.

JuliaM said...

"On reading the Times article, my first thought was:

"Did the journalist do his own digging here, or was the story fed to the journalist, ready to publish, by someone connected to the government?""


Oh, Mandy. You came and you gave without taking....

digger said...

'£27,840. So unless you have private means, you have to have outside work.'

you really would fit in in the Commons.

canvas said...

Iain, it's your choice. That's the key word - choice.

Aren't we lucky that the NHS is there to take care of us regardless of our wealth or personal circumstances? If your employer provides you with private healthcare insurance - or you can afford healthcare insurance - then fine. But the point is, the NHS is there to look after all of us... regardless.

I'm sure David Cameron is pulling his hair out right now. The last thing he wanted was to re-ignite the culture wars.

I think that a lot of DC's hard work has been undone recently. The last thing the Tories want to do at the moment is align themselves to the US Republican Party... or to appear to share the same views as them regarding healthcare...

"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the Republicans have moved to a mental hospital." Bill Maher

"Last week, one of the Republicans sent to disrupt a healthcare town hall started a fight and was injured – and then complained he had no health insurance. I didn't laugh; I wanted to weep."

Excellent article in todays Independent by Johann Hari regarding this subject. His observations are spot on.

Iain Dale said...

Don, you misinterpret what I said. Before going into the House of Lords he would have been earning way above that - probably six figures. What you are saying is that if you go into the House of Lords you should therefore reduce your income to the £27,000 and change your lifestyle accordingly.

What you are therefore arguing for is a House of Lords full of rich people who dont need to earn a living, or full of people who regard £27,000 as the summit of their aspirations.

What a way to run a country.

And to Digger, I was waiting for the first one to say that and you have won the prize.

Could I be an MP and live on £27k? absolutely not, and if that were the salary I couldn't afford to do the job.

Johnny Norfolk said...

THE TIMES.

Tabloid in size and Tabloid in attitude.

If ever a paper has gone down the pan.

wapping boy said...

Cameron was on GMTV this morning defending this chap. Only in NuLabour's Britain would a shadow minister have to be defended for actually knowing something about his brief.

This is no different to a Labour trade & industry minister having links to the unions (which many would argue is a potential conflict of interest). But as always it's one rule for NuLab and a different rule for everyone else...

Mark M said...

I'm curious. How long did you have to wait for your operation when you went private?

You're right about the hospitals and GPs. When you deal with a GP you're dealing with a person. When you deal with a hospital you're dealing with the system. It's no wonder GPs visits are generally more agreeable than hospital visits.

canvas said...

Iain says> "Could I be an MP and live on £27k? absolutely not, and if that were the salary I couldn't afford to do the job."

Iain, you couldn't even GET the job - never mind 'affording' it. You couldn't buy a vote!


:)))

Quietzapple said...

It is funny how the original date for Tory Shadows to give up their "Interests" or jobs has been set back.

I recall it was October? Ot was definitely December, and now it is the end of next January.

I gather the relevent info re this Tory Lord was in the Lords' Register of Interests, so Chameleon should have known . .

Cameron's hols don't seem to have done him much good:

http://quietzapple-musing.blogspot.com/2009/08/cameron-chameleon-little-lord-haw-haw.html

As Prezza tweets: JohnPrescottCameron claims he didn't know about McColl's private health job but it's in Lord's register http://bit.ly/gRJ7M Very sloppy #welovet

Paul said...

So it's impossible to live on £27k without private means is it? Come off it. I rent a flat and live comfortably in Fulham on a £20k salary. With no savings.

Toby said...

great post Iain.

common sense and choice, two good conservative principles highlighted here. shame some people post after selective reading.

WV: gated .... have I done something wrong ..?

Toby

Andrew Cooper said...

"Who's going to pay much attention to 'The Times' anymore?

"The left generally could not give a load of dingos kidneys whether or not the NHS actually did patients any good."

Never a truer word..." JuliaM

Oh for goodness' sake. This is far too important to be left to those who play politics.

"So far as dentistry is concerned, few have the option of using an NHS dentist."

Because it's been seriously screwed up by politicians on the left and right. Most people care not a jot for the online commentariat, posturing/venal politicians and point scorers like you, JuliaM.

We want our public services run properly. That's all. It seriously is time we killed off I'm right/you're wrong politics, isn't it?

Demetrius said...

The present debate on the issue of health provision remind me vividly of the debates in my Elementary School playground over whether semolina pudding was better or worse than blancmange. Although, I have to say, this was conducted at a more rational and informed level.

Libertarian said...

@bentasacorkscrew

Question, wouldn't you want someone who actually knew something about finance running the treasury? Wouldn't you want someone who knew something about education running the schools dept.

I agree with you that vested interests are a difficult area but likewise if we ban people with specific industry experience from holding a portfolio in that field then everything is run by amatuers.

Oh did you see what happened there £1.5 trillion of debt run up by poly lecturers, and solicitors.

donpaskini said...

Hi Iain,

"Before going into the House of Lords he would have been earning way above that - probably six figures. What you are saying is that if you go into the House of Lords you should therefore reduce your income to the £27,000 and change your lifestyle accordingly."

Not really - as I said, I'm fine with him continuing to work as a surgeon and declaring it.

"What you are therefore arguing for is a House of Lords full of rich people who dont need to earn a living, or full of people who regard £27,000 as the summit of their aspirations."

The House of Lords is currently full of rich people. Is there any member of the Lords, for example, whose wealth doesn't put them in the top 10% of the population?

What there is a shortage of, in both houses of parliament, are people who know what it is like to earn the average (or even a below average) wage.

That has a number of unhealthy consequences - the whole expenses fiasco being one, where MPs compared their earnings to people in the top 1% of earners rather than to the people who they were elected to represent.

Anonymous said...

Last year, that would have trousered them £27,840. So unless you have private means, you have to have outside work.

As a few others have already said - why? Is a mere £27k+ per year just rations to you? Surely it's more that the average person earns. I'm a full-time [Tory] Parliamentary Assistant in Westminster with no private means and I don't get paid nearly that much. How condescending to assume that one is unable to live on a paltry £27k!

Libertarian said...

@ Andrew Cooper

I agree with you about silly political point scoring, but then you fall into your own trap

" we want our public services run properly"

The debate is over should this even be a publically run service, which is basically a political question. ie do you believe that the taxpayer should provide and the service be operated and managed by politicians or should people provide for their own arrangements with a private supplier. Or a mixture

JuliaM said...

"Oh for goodness' sake. This is far too important to be left to those who play politics. "

Hit a nerve, sweetie?

"Most people care not a jot for the online commentariat, posturing/venal politicians and point scorers like you, JuliaM."

Mmmm, I did, didn't I?

*chuckle*

"We want our public services run properly. That's all. "

Who's 'we', Andrew?

It seems to me that the people with the most to yap about regarding the NHS are the people who go private at the drop of a hat, or who go to the NHS knowing full well that they will get the kind of treatment experienced by a Politbureau member as soon as an assistant whispers who they are into the hospital admin's ear...

Iain Dale said...

Anonymous 11.54. Sign, I didnt say that. I said why should he have to? Just because he has been appointed to the Lords. Of course lots of people live on £27k. I did for many years. But that doesnt mean to say that a successful surgeon should have to just by dint of him becoming a Lord.

subrosa said...

Julia M 'Tell us why, Andrew.'

In my neck of the woods there is one dental surgery Julia and it changed to private care around 8 years ago now. If I want NHS treatment that would involved a 60 mile round trip and no emergency cover.

Yes I pay around £20 a month for dentistry but it's a price well worth paying and I have the security is knowing help isn't an hour's drive away.

Oh he takes children on the NHS and other relevant patients.

Unsworth said...

Iain,

"They get an attendance allowance of £174 per sitting day. Last year, that would have trousered them £27,840. So unless you have private means, you have to have outside work"

Well, up to a point. Let's not forget the expenses aspects, eh? The noble (advisedly!) Baroness Uddin might be able to give Ian MacColl a few tips. But I have to admire his history of work with the disabled - amongst other good causes.

Simon said...

Did you spot that it took three Times journalists to produce that load of waffle ?

Bent as a corkscrew - you speak of a conflict of interest, but the DoH is concerned with health generally. If an actual or shadow minister was invovled in the NHS, would he not risk a conflict of interest when it came to dealing with private medicine? If he does not have any medical involvement, there may be no risk of conflict of interest, but there is a great risk of utter ignorance.

Mind you, we are all mortal - so is there anyone without an interest that might conflict?

In this case, though, no conflict of interest has been identified, merely a risk of a conflict of interest which is a different matter altogether.

Quietzapple said...

Donpaskini's remark has more resonance for most of us who earn far less than the £27K he quotes for a member of the House of Lords based on attendance allowance only.

Don't they get a few perks in any case, without pulling a stroke, or having private "interests" . . ? Don't think they just hope for the odd free entry to Wimbledon, or the LT museum which seems to have been taken off the list of attractions free to we oldies . . .

With all the brou ha ha about MPs adding to their 5 figure salaries with allowances/expenses, some of dubious propriety, the claim that members of the House of Lords may be assumed to have formerly have had SIX figure incomes resonates like a rattle at the 'ammers . . .

Surely not all of them are bloated wannabe plutocrats like most of Cameron's muckers and some of Brown's appointees?

While I don't take the Dennis Skinner view that an MP (Lords are MPs too, it stands for members of parliament - not just the Commons) should get the average wage or so I do think that the Lords should be a serious outfit.

If Cameron cannot exercise discipline over his Shadows . . . and doesn't realise what their entries in the register of Members' Interests are . . .

Quietzapple said...

Mandelson must be vastly amused by the wild imaginings of the trolls who see him in every corner.

It is strange how the right has come to ape the paranoia of the left, or was it ever thus and I previously paid less attention?

Stephen Glenn said...

Iain this may already have been said above but I have only a 30 minute lunch break in my sub 20k job, but you are missing the point.

It is not the second job that is the biggest issue here. It is the conflict of interest that DC and Andrew Lapsley the Shadow Health Secretary appear to have not known about. For 12 years (surely you would have ruin into him at some point in that time) Lord McColl has been a Shadow Health Minister looking to eventually take care of the nations health and by default the NHS.

That is the point, the Tories are preaching honesty and clean politics yet fail to let each other know when they have a vested interest.

Soho Politico said...

I was rather enjoying this article, and found myself in broad sympathy with you, against The Times, but this rather stuck in my throat:

"Let me use this opportunity to defend private healthcare. Its opponents are effectively saying that people like me and Gordon Brown, who use private healthcare, should not be allowed to decide how to use our own money."

Who is *actually* saying that people ought not to be able to use private services? I have not heard anyone making this argument during the recent row. Claiming that this is what the left are 'effectively saying' is about as good as admitting that nobody is genuinely saying it, but nonetheless you want to have a bogeyman to oppose. Smart strategy, I guess (and I am always ready to praise smart strategy on my own blog, which means I have not had occasion to praise anyone from Labour lately). But not really a great step towards genuinely advancing the healthcare debate, which is what you say you want.

Anonymous said...

This whole thread has proceeded on the basis that Lord McColl gets £27,000 a year in allowances. It appears not to have occurred to anybody to check the expenses he claims. Last year, he claimed nothing for overnight accommodation. His claim for subsistence was £9,900. How many people could live on that? He also claimed an office cost (secretarial/research) allowance of £11,446, again not much to hire a researcher or secretary.

Hurf Durf said...

CanvAss quoting Maher and Hari? She's dumber than I thought.

Iain Dale said...

Stephen, that is arrant nonsense. The interest was declared in the register. What else is he supposed to do - post it in the London Gazette?

not an economist said...

"Is Gordon Brown wrong to use private health for his dentistry needs?"

This is unfair to Gordon. This is probably due to the absence of sufficent NHS dentists up and down the country which is self ewveidently the fault of the Thatcher/Major Govts between 1979 and 1992.

Leave Gordon alone.

Iain Dale said...

Soho, there are plenty on the left who would like to ban private healthcare completely. It is them I was referring to.

canvas said...

Iain > do you think that, in this instance, there is a conflict of interest?

Iain Dale said...

The answer to that question is in the original article. But you knew that.

Anonymous said...

Private Healthcare.

Just to put things in perspective lets all remember that virtually all NHS GP's do private work for insurance companies, HGV medicals etc

- and many of them work privately for the Out Of Hours services

- and large numbers of nurses work for agencies either part or full time

and the people who supply the NHS with writing paper are private companies

ditto engineering work

ditto fuel supplies

di

and - in England only- hospitals charge very high fees to a captive market for car parking- thats private income for the hospitals

Anonymous said...

"Last year, that would have trousered them £27,840. So unless you have private means, you have to have outside work."

Iain, what planet are you living on? I earn less that half of that (£13,000 to be precise) and I'm an educated person with a postgraduate professional qualification. No one in my office earns anything approaching £27,840 a year yet we all manage absolutely fine. Seriously, where did you get the idea that £27,840 isn't a very nice wage indeed?

dizzy said...

"I'm curious. How long did you have to wait for your operation when you went private?"

I know this was addressed to Iain but I have recently had an operation done privately - by an NHS consultant working privately natch! - the answer is this.

I chose how long I had to wait. Had I wanted too I could have have seen the consultant on Monday, had a CT scan on Tuesday and been in surgery Thursday. As it happened this was not convenient for me.

When you go private that is the first thing that strikes you actually. When you call to make an appointment they ask *you* when *you* want to come in and have whatever it is you need doing.

My little boy needed an operation - just like Iain it was nothing serious. He was referred to a conslutant on monday, saw the consultant on Wednesday and was in surgery by Friday.

canvas said...

iain, why do you always resist clarifying your position on things?

I presume you do not think there is a conflict of interest from this statement you made...
"The Times is insinuating that he has done something wrong. He hasn't."

Sometimes when a post is longer than six paragraphs the eyes glaze over....

I don't think Lord McColl did anything 'wrong' because he did declare it - but I do think there is a conflict of interest.

Iain Dale said...

Canvas, because whenever you seek a "clarification" it usually means you're trying to find an argument where there isn't one.

If I felt there was a conflict of interest I'd have hardly written the post in the first place, would I? Doh.

Libertarian said...

@Donpaskini

I really do despair of the total lack of imagination and awareness in this country, no wonder the prolitariat allow themselves to be be lead, nannied and fleeced by the liberal left.

There are loads of people in the House of Lords and House of Commons and elsewhere who know what it's like to earn below, just above and significantly more than the average wage.


Me I'm a millionaire, I've also in my life been paid a pittance for 12hour night shifts in a factory, I've been on the dole having been made redundent twice ( thanks Arthur and the lads) I held down two jobs for more than 3 years to make ends meet.

Life experience is what is needed not a level of income.

Most people who aspire to government are ambitious and therefore tend to succeed financially in life eventually.

canvas said...

Iain, if you think there is no conflict of interest and other people think that there is - then - there is an argument to be had. And you are usually always on the wrong side of the argument.

Doh.

Iain Dale said...

Canvas, could you explain how it is possible to be something both usually and always?

canvas said...

you are usually ALMOST always on the wrong side of the argument. :))) lol

another lame attempt by you at 'distraction'. I love the way you turn 'rude' and 'nasty' when someone annoys you.

hugs xx

Iain Dale said...

If you think pointing out your linguistic failings is rude and nasty you must be a very sensitive soul indeed.

canvas said...

iain, sensitive? I hope so.

As Alastair Campblee points out in his blog this week...

"American politics can be brutal, and as I remember Bill Clinton once saying, the right are far more brutal and aggressive in their arguments than the left, basically because progressives tend to be nicer people. But the way some of the arguments about the NHS are being used (or mis-used) is shocking even by the standards of the rabids."

Doubting Richard said...

Andy Burnham wrote an article in the Guardian "Defending the N in NHS". The very title tells you everything about the purpose of the NHS, it is all about socialism, centralised control of a national system. That is why private healthcare is beyond the pale, it is beyond Mr Burnham's control.

My response was, of course that we should rather defend the H and the S. The N is irrelevant to anyone not pushing socialism for its own sake.

Quietzapple said...

If Lord Torysurgeon doesn't claim his attendance allowance (and he is in excellent company, I didn't claim much of mine when I was a councillor) that doesn't affect the argument re his alternative employment.

When poor old Cameron is blundering away, not calling on Hannan to apologise, not sacking the pro-scunner Osborne, not telling people that a Cameron led Government wouldn't be like Johnson B's 3 Deputy Mayor Circus he doesn't need his underlings undermining him by chairing private Health orgs, does he?

Time to institute a "Save the Chameleon!" Campaign.

Doubting Richard said...

By the way I also once had private care. I got an appointment in two days for consultation, four days for physio. That was instead of a six week wait for consultation, probably similar for physio. I was earning very little, well below average, a significant part of that I was self-employed, so no work, no pay.

I could not afford to wait for the Stalinist system, where some bureaucrat decided when I deserved treatment. I had to pay, despite having already paid in my taxes for the Stalinist care.

Sorry to link whore, but the story is relevant to those who ask how long it takes to get an appointment privately. The answer is a short enough time to be worthwhile for the British economy and for the tax man.

Anonymous said...

"Last year, that would have trousered them £27,840. So unless you have private means, you have to have outside work"

Um... So you're saying that Peers are under-paid and simply have to seek out some alternative income because they get paid more than the national average salary for turning up each morning and signing a piece of paper even if they then just turn around and go home again?

hyena said...

I'd further think that the public might be pleased to hear that someone who might be advising or speaking for the next government's Health Dept has relevant experience.

Cabinet ministers are parachuted into positions all the time to reorganise or devise policies for government functions that they know nothing about. Surely it's an asset that the Tories have a health spokesman who actually has experience, God forbid, in any health industry, private or not?

Anonymous said...

I love outside London....

Jim

yeah I know, just a typo ;o)

Uncle Bob said...

Don't see what the problem is. I think it's a good idea that someone with acute knowledge of the medical profession is part of the shadow health team. And the fact that he still keeps himself involved in medecine is also a benefit too. And as for people arguing that £27k is a lot of money, to someone like me it is. It's just over the national average wage, but it's certainly nowhere near a doctor's wage and probably is below the average wage for London.

Also, this private/NHS argument is silly. I think it would be great if more of the seriously rich went private. They would get better care and be dealt with quicker but conversely, so would the NHS as the demands on it would get a slight reduction. And more peole taking private care would lead to the costs for the private health sector coming down thus allowing more people to be able to afford it and helping the NHS even more. Everybody wins.

Soho Politico said...

Iain,

The point is that nobody in the recent furore over health was attacking private care, or claiming that it ought to be abolished. The focus was on the NHS and what to do with it. You implied that someone needs to ride to the rescue of private healthcare, and that the latter is somehow under siege. But that is just not the case - private healthcare is not in need of defence. Saying that it is - implying that it is under threat - is just a smokescreen.

Ensign said...

do you support Dan Hannan's argument that the NHS has been a 60 year failure?

Hurf Durf said...

"the right are far more brutal and aggressive in their arguments than the left, basically because progressives tend to be nicer people."

WTF.

Has Camp Bull ignored the last eight years? A brief refresher: http://www.zombietime.com/zomblog/?p=612

You gonna admit you were wrong about Iran yet?

norman said...

Ironic indeed. These days the Murdoch paper in a way is complicit in defending NHS and smearing Tories with stories of sorts while the boss's outfits in the USA, the Fox News plus newspapers plus his Republican friends are busy rubbishing NHS and holding out private healthcare as a beacon!!!
I am easy with Lord MaColl the distingusihed Surgeon giving advice ( Lord Darzi would probably agree with him in private!) and not a leftist GP who while cursing the private heathcarers is doubling privately as locum to pocket extra money. Some are saying leave Gordon out. We should also leave out those Labour MPs who use private health care.
My neighbour a staunch Labour supporter uses his private money to drive a Mercedes top of the range, to take Tuscan holidays, to send kids to private schools but sneers at me for having private health insurance worth £2000 per year!! Talking of Talibans, they are here in our midst in numbers
than in Afghanistan.

Jimmy said...

"There is a £174 overnight allowance, which only applies to Peers who love outside London."

Nice work if you can get it.z

Carl said...

They get an attendance allowance of £86.50 per sitting day. Last year, that would have trousered them £14,186 . So unless you have private means, you have to have outside work.

Private means? Don't forget that he will also be drawing:

- Old age pension
- Pension from his previous job as a Professor
- Pay from his current lecturing job
- Pay from his various consultancies
- Probably a private pension

Bent as a corkscrew said...

@Liberty

Thinking on what you said I suppose that what I object to most is not somebody with a vested (and declared) interest in Parliament asking a question or making a speech, rather it is their involvement with making Policy on the matter in question.

By the way, my point about the radio turn-off was that the manufacturers of digital radios are finding they cannot sell them in the face of the existing superior and more flexible AM and FM ones, so they are trying to force people to buy them - pure rent seekers.

Governments have form on this: Back in the 80s the old 405 line TV system was switched off and the minister in question moved on to the board of the company that took over quite a segment of the vacated frequency allocations.

Hence being 'Bent as a corkscrew' in politics is not new, it just that after the MPs expenses scam I have finally had enough of these troughers.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, 1.46:

Peers don't turn up and sign a piece of paper.

newsed1 said...

abI offer this as a story I was told by somebody in the medical profession....

Mandelson was 'rushed' into hospital last October for what turned out to be a kidney stone.

I was told that Lord Darzi was woken in the early hours in Oxfordshire and had to come into London to personally take Mandy into hospital, ensuring the best attention of course.

There's the NHS used by me and my parents - good in crisis - and the NHS used by the Labour elite.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1069697/Peter-Mandelson-rushed-hospital-day-new-job.html

norman said...

@Carl
Private means? Don't forget that he will also be drawing:

- Old age pension
- Pension from his previous job as a Professor
- Pay from his current lecturing job
- Pay from his various consultancies
- Probably a private pension

Politics of envy are we talking about? The ex-CND member Milburn earns as much involving in healthcare industry ( an NHS Taliban before). It seems in this country all you have to do is become Labour party member and shout "NHS "and say" I strongly believe in NHS", and then you are free to moonlight in whatever and also as locum while working as GP, do a Milburn resigning as health secretary and involve in health care industry whatever that means ( no question of conflict of interest) We are the biggest bunch of hypocrites. What any one does with private money is his/her business as long as it is legal.

Thatsnews said...

Is it not odd that certain people turn up and post at the same time on the same topic threads?

You'd almost think a switch had been thrown, or an order sent out...

perdix said...

Norman 3.40 - well said about Labour MP Alan Millburn and his work for private healthcare. Why doesn't the Times write about him?

ScotsToryB said...

Heh, heh.

I normally enjoy when Canvas and Iain double act but to use Alastair Campbell's quotes as the voice of reason enters the realms of lunancy.


STB.

Carl said...

norman said...
Politics of envy are we talking about?

No. I was just pointing out that Lord MacColl does not, as Iain suggests, need to take on outside work in order to make ends meet.

Good luck to him. The House of Lords attendance allowance that he claims is the icing on the cake.

Anonymous said...

'Peers who love outside London'

So more money if you have a mistress outside the capital? Yes I know o and i are next to each other on the keyboard. Made me laugh though.

Lord Lavendon said...

Iain , you would actually look great in ermine!

True Blue said...

why has the institution of marriage between a man and a woman not been placed on the political agenda of the new 'reformed' Conservative party?

True Belle said...

Nurse, quick , we need a supposiTORY, fetch the bedpan whilst you are about it.

Saves digging around any further

Rush-is-Right said...

"Conversely, those who believe the state should have no role in the provision of healthcare also need to be taken on. The state does indeed have a role - the debate is about how large that role should be..."

I think that's wrong. I do not believe it is any business of the state to look after my health (or anybody else's) at all. The notion that some or other government pannel should decide how many hip replacements there are going to be in my area in the current year is self-evidently absurd. Yet this is what happens, and it then gives the government rights to interfere in other areas (which I should hardly need to point out that it should not have).

So then you start hearing that hip replacements will be refused to those who are overweight or smoke. Again, my weight and smoking habits are none of the government's business.

It's a freedom issue. Socialised healthcare gives the government the right to interfere with lifestyle choices. The Americans understand this, which is why Obama's healthcare proposals are as popular there as a cup of cold sick.

Scot Richards said...

The guy is a surgeon. He saves lives. That's how he earns his livelihood. That's bad now is it?

Time to get politics - and the public sector - completely out of healthcare.

The government has a liability called pensions. It is in the government's best interest if each of us dies young so they don't have to borrow even more money to pay out. Does anyone else think the fact that this same government is in charge of rationing our healthcare might be a little bit of a conflict?

This shows how much socialism is prevalent and has become common-think in this backward country.

Anonymous said...

Don't use private health care? Um ... in the socialist Utopia that is Scotland, in that north east outpost of the NHS I would LOVE to us e an NHS dentist. A what? What is an NHS dentist? My ex dentist was NHS when I joined the practice, then they introduced private insurance ... then they were offering interest free loans of over £1000 for treatment. Good eh? If anyone out there knows of an NHS dentist within a twenty mile radious of Aberdeen, let me know. Let the world know ... it will be like the second coming ... one of the world's miracles.