Sunday, September 20, 2009

Good on Nick Clegg

Good on Nick Clegg for having the balls to admit that he has used private healthcare for his son. Not an easy thing for him to do, when he is floating the idea of cutting universal child benefits.
Asked why he had opted out of the NHS, he said: “Because we were very keen to see a particular consultant for a particular problem very quickly.”

That sounds suspiciously like the answer Margaret Thatcher gave when asked during the 1987 election why she used private healthcare.
Because I can see the consultant I want, when I want.

She got huge flak for that. I wonder if the same media firestorm will engulf Mr Clegg. In some ways, I hope not, because it's about time we got over this absurd idea that private healthcare is somehow a bad thing.

27 comments:

Oliver Drew said...

Good for him. The idea is that the NHS is there for all but that people can opt to go private if they want right? So personally I don't have a problem with Nick Clegg choosing private healthcare...

When it's certain members of the government who advocate public sector healthcare and education as the only way to go and then they do something else...that's when I get annoyed!

Care for All said...

There is a big difference though between accepting that there is a role for private healthcare, using it, and it being foisted on us by Friedmanist politicians.

If you want to go private then you should have that choice. Just not at my expense and without whining about how you *also* pay for NHS.

insert-coin-here said...

Could we also try and get over the ridiculous notion that state provided healthcare is in some way a good thing?

Then we might be unto something.

Johnny Norfolk said...

Why is there not more choice on the NHS why can you not pick who you see etc.

no longer anonymous said...

"If you want to go private then you should have that choice. Just not at my expense and without whining about how you *also* pay for NHS."

Why shouldn't I whine? Why should I be forced to pay for an NHS I don't use?

ChrisD said...

Iain, no problem with those that choose to pay for private health care doing so.

But the hypocrisy of either Clegg or Thatcher as leaders of opposition parties doing so when they seek to run the NHS is a mistake.
More so, if Clegg is now a man of public service cuts, and without a policy to reform it or the way that we all access public or private health care.
The fact he can as an MP afford such a luxury is not lost on me. Nor the fact that under a Lab/Libdem coalition in Scotland, I was told that any private assessment for my child's special needs would be ignored and therefore a waste of my very hard earned cash!
And the reason I sought to spend the money this way, well the poor special needs provision and lack of urgency played a major part.

dearieme said...

Lots of people who want timely physiotherapy go private: why not for a doctor?

dearieme said...

Those who pay for private health care are, on average, almost certain to be paying more than their whack for the NHS, aren't they? Ditto for private schooling.

Anonymous said...

Asked why he had opted out of the NHS, he said: “Because we were very keen to see a particular consultant for a particular problem very quickly.”

It's very good for him to say that but it immediately gets the oppobrium of those who aren't millionaires like Clegg as to why they can't.

No-one is saying he shouldn't want the best for his kid and ideas of "levelling down" so no-one can go private are iniquitous. But it's surely right to query why we can't have a system where everyone can get their kid to the consultant they want quickly, not just those who can pay.

Care For All said...

No Longer Anon said "Why shouldn't I whine? Why should I be forced to pay for an NHS I don't use?"

See, there's this aspect called "choice" in there. That's why you shouldn't whine.

You have healthcare. You choose to pay more because you cannot you want more than the state system offers. So don't whine about it, just make your choice and get on with it.

You are forced to pay into an insurance fund for health through taxation. This is because the benefits of a healthy population far outweigh the needs for the rich to have a few extra quid in their pocket.

If you want to ask "why" you should pay then there is a fairly simple answer. Because you can.

After all, who will clean your streets, empty your bins etc if they are all sick.

Do what your told said...

Its not us who are saying Private Health Care is a bad thing. Its the Socialist aristocracy who use it themselves it has to be said. Pathetic Hypocricy.

Mirtha Tidville said...

Personal choice and doing the best for his family..The loudest bangs will, as usual, come from the more woolly minded members of his own flock together with the hypocrital socialists......at least its predictable

Obama London said...

Chris D: I don't understand. Surely it would be more hypocritical for a leader to use private healthcare if they were in government - an opposition leader can at least make the case that any failures in service provision would be fixed if they were running it.

Not that I necessarily think this is a failure - if NHS were going to provide the best service available it would cost a lot more money. But as long as it is supplying merely a very good service that focusses on critical or lifesaving care, people have every right to chose to pay extra for a more luxurious service. The only question is whether actual quality of outcomes is affected.

We don't know whether that would be the case here, but as in the US where we pay more than twice as much with no better quality of outcomes, a mroe expensive service isn't necessarily a better one.

Victor, NW Kent said...

I am totally unable to see why this should be regarded as something reprehensible. The criticisms are really absurd - and it's nobody's business but the Cleggs.

Ian said...

Well said Iain. It's time we cast away this notion that anyone who wants to use private money to pay for healthcare is a demon who wants to scrap the NHS and force the poor to go without healthcare. If anything we now need to encourage more people to go private, reduce the burden on the NHS and it's budget.

The question NHS fanboys (like Mr Prescott) should be answering though is, why does Clegg feel he has to go private in order to see a specialist he wants, when he wants? Is this a service that the NHS can't offer, or simply one it chooses not to?

Dr Zorders said...

Of course, the part that you have all ignored is that even going private doesn't mean that you can see the consultant "when you want".

You see him at a time that is convenient for the consultant, at a place of their choosing and subject to their NHS commitments.

Even when you are admitted, your ITU cover is provided by the NHS and, should anything go wrong, you will be admitted to the nearest NHS hospital.

Private care has it's place. But when you *really* need health care, everyone turns to the NHS.

HF said...

Many people use private healthcare -couples who have more than the NHS provided IVF, people who have vaccinations for going abroad, people who want single MMR vaccines etc, not to mention of course your dentist (unless you are very lucky) and visits to the physio.

We have reached the stage where the NHS cannot afford everything, and if you want more you have to pay.

Like everything else in life.

Quite apart from being none of our business, this is a complete non issue for anyone with any common sense.

Man in a Shed said...

It is of course people's business if it involves hypocrisy - eg if the Lib Dems moved against other people with private health care or tried to attack other politicians.

Does anyone know how wealthy Mr Clegg is ? I've seen comments a while ago, but don't have the source so hesitate to make further comment.

In some ways I glad he puts his son's welfare ahead of his career.

trevorsden said...

Only the super rich can afford to ignore the NHS.

As soon as you grow old or something tricky comes up insurance companies do not want to know and private companies are not capable.

A lot of private operations are done using NHS facilities so without the NHS these operations would be much more problematical.

You can decide on all sorts of ways to 'pay' for the NHS - mandatory insurance, tax, both. But if we are to have health free at the point of service - it cannot be run on the basis of people swanning in and out as it suits them, there must be a basic charge via tax or insurance for all.

None of which says the present NHS cannot be organised differently - but the NHS has had so many reorganisations that it will be a debilitating exercise all round.

But all health services are struggling because the cost of treatment is rising exponentially. In Germany they have a standard rate of insurance and you can take out better cover if you want - but the cost of this is getting prohibitive.

Armchair said...

For 30 years I have been saying, as an NHS user, that it is a second rate system. It may just about have been the envy of the world when I was born, but it certainly isn't now.

Why is there this idiotic cretinous idea that anyone who buys medical treatment is Satan. Instead we have to be levelled down to the same level as the poorest person in Britain and if it costs you your life then its just tough......because its only fair

Bobby said...

But why should she have used the private service when she ran the public service.

Demontrout said...

I don't see those two quotes as expressing the same meaning.

Clegg's comment suggests this was a specific problem which required a specific treatment and so they went to extra lengths to see a specific expert in this field. It expresses a pragmatic view of things.

Thatcher's statement, on the other hand, seems far more wrapped up in ideological baggage. Most importantly, it implies criticism of the NHS (i.e. you can't get what you want).

Regardless, I mostly agree that there should be no stigma attached to private healthcare. However, it'll be a worrying position if our elected officials deciding the fate of the NHS have no personal experience with the institution.

Neil A said...

I don't have private healthcare but I am grateful to those who do. Their tax money is paying for my treatment.

Mark M said...

@Demontrout - "t implies criticism of the NHS (i.e. you can't get what you want)"

That's true. The girlfriend of a friend of mine is currently going in and out of hospital with gall stones. She can't have them taken out yet because she's on the waiting list ("ahh you need an op. ok, get to the back of the line, we'll see you whenever. Oh and don't forget to be grateful. #welovethenhs remember?").

Patient choice simply does not exist and we pay the penalty with our quality of life. If we had some competition between hospitals, she could ask around her nearest local ones and find one that is willing to give her the op as soon as possible. I've no real issue with taxpayer funded healthcare, but the money should move with the patient. If the nearest hospital willing to take gall stones out is 100 miles away then so-be-it, but if she's willing to travel that far then she should be able to.

Anonymous said...

Why is it Brave?

The facts came into the public domain. Clegg had two choices say nowt or say something. Since when did a politician say nowt?

PS Vince Cable is making a right twat of himself over the property envy tax. When did it become fact that fanilies living in council houses are all hardworking and families living in expensive houses are all lazy? I would wager that the reverse is often a truth.

pablopatito said...

no longer anonymous said "Why shouldn't I whine? Why should I be forced to pay for an NHS I don't use?"

So if I find you bleeding and dying in the middle of road, do you want me to phone 999 or bupa? What a ridiculous comment.

The key to the private healthcare debate is that you're normally paying to see an NHS consultant, trained by the NHS. You cannot separate the NHS from the private sector. They share the same consultants. If it is a case of paying to jump the queue to see a consultant, and if this is at the expense of someone else on the queue who can't afford to pay, then I may have a problem.

But the debate is certainly not as simple as people make out, or as simple as the debate on private education.

Anonymous said...

Private healthcare, in itself, is not a bad thing. The problem is that the NHS has been battered, underfunded, and mismanaged for so many years that it is not able to provide the consistently good service the public deserves.

Clearly if you can afford private treatment "to see a particular consultant for a particular problem very quickly", then you're going to do so.

The trouble is, we can't all afford to do that. And that's why we need the NHS and the job it does - at least passably, in spite of its demonisation by some commentators. So we don't have situations like in America, where people are afraid of going to the doctor because of the cost.

I suspect the people who Nick Clegg would cut child benefits for, are the same people who would opt for private healthcare. So the child benefit money which would otherwise go to them, could be used to fund the improvement of the NHS.