Posts Tagged ‘Private Treatment’
There was a time when our allotment shed crackled to the sound of leftie rhetoric. In those days heroes such as Michael Foot made their voices heard, and I well remember arguments raging. Everything commercial should be owned by the state was the cry of some of our long-gone pals. Today, with the Labour party’s policies barely distinguishable from those of the once hated Tories, such talk is no more, now merely a distant echo. Now the idea of free enterprise is the staple diet of everyone who bothers to even discuss politics. In the recent past there was something of an upsurge of hostility to the idea of the private sector taking over the last bastion of state control, the NHS, but, the Lansley bill having been approved, even that is fading, albeit in a mood of trepidation.
So, politics aside, it is perhaps time to ask ourselves whether we really trust the private sector to manage our health services which, after all, are crucial to every family in the land which lacks the wherewithal to pay for private treatment. It has to be said that, political ideology apart, there are very good reasons to worry about our lives beng transferred into private hands!
The ‘One Society’ has produced some data on pay differentials. It has found that private firms whose main income came from the public sector paid their chief officers far more than the highest paid public sector emloyee. For instance, Serco, which receives over 90% of its business from the taxpayer, paid top boss Christopher Hyman £3,149,950 in 2010. This is six times the highest paid public servant and eleven times the highest paid NHS or local authority chief. Should we as taxpayers really be happy with this?
Perhaps even more imortant is the issue of trustworthiness. In just a few days following his Commons ‘triumph’, Lansley has let it be known that hospital closures and takeovers are on the way. One of the many discussions between the Department of Health and proposed private saviours is with German health group Helios. The spin is that they have the ability to “tackle the performance improvement of English hospitals”. Put aside the question of how the public interest is served by paying huge salaries which in turn demand huge profits which in turn threaten the priority of patients, and merely seek reassurance that this company is of the ethical standard that health provision uniquely requires.
Helios is part of the Fresenius Group, which was fined $82 million in the USA in May for having “recklessly disregarded federal law when billing the US taxpayer for dialysis supplies and equipment”. Although the over-billing itself occurred just before Fresenius bought up the companies involved, Fresenius itself was accused in relation to the case.
Nor was it the German group’s first brush with the law. Ten years before, Fresenius settled the largest ever healthcare fraud case with civil and criminal penalties aproaching $500 million after making fraudulent claims from Medicare and paying kickbacks to get work referred its way. Then in 2005, another arm of Fresenius admitted its role in a pharmaceuticals cartel in South Africa, designed to “manipulate prices for pharmaceutical and hospital products”.
There is nothing to suggest Fresenius’s record is much worse than those of other private health companies with hungry investors to satisfy and it reasonable to assume that the record of the whole industry is somewhat short of reassuring.
Thanks to the supine Lib Demmers, Lansley is close to getting his chaotic and much amended bill through and the NHS as we have known it is heading for the file marked distant memories. Now that we are getting a closer look at the people who will take over, the prosect looks bleaker than ever.
You don’t have to be a leftie to believe that once the profit motive becomes the driving force the needs of the patient come second. Throw in dubious ethics, massive salaries and dividends, and the wonderful tomorrow outlined by Cameron and Lansley looks anything but!
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S MIDWEEK QUIZ; 1. The Teletubbies 2. Lynda La Plante 3. Michael Howard 4. Doug. 5. 1980s 6. Karen Slater 7. Jeremy Guscott 8. Robson Green 9. Father Aidan 10. John Fashanu
Another beautiful golden day! The optimists among the chicken-breeders are talking excitedly of a summer to beat them all. The rest of us remember similar delight at this time last year! But we live for the day and this one is brilliant in every sense of the word. However, at least one of our number is not entirely happy. He has been told by his GP that there are now restrictions on NHS orthopaedic referrals and his chance of a hip operation is now remote. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised since the massive Lansley cuts are slowly but surely taking the NHS performance back many years.
In fact a survey of GPs published yesterday found that cuts are being made not only in areas deemed non-urgent. Over half of the 500 family doctors questioned said that waiting times had gone up for musculoskeletal work, and 42% reported a rise in waits for neurology treatment. Almost a third say that there are now delays in cardiology and one in ten say that waiting times for cancer treatments are rising quickly.
Interestingly the survey was carried out by Spire Healthcare, the second largest private hospital group in the country. And they are not in the least depressed by what their friend Mr Lansley is doing. Dr Jean-Jacques de Gorter, clinical director of Spire, said yesterday that the increased use of the private sector now being enjoyed is to be expected “as a result of health secretary Andrew Lansley’s measures and efficiency savings”. He reported that his group was already seeing waiting lists for elective admissions and diagnostics going up and patients are “likely to turn to the private sector”.
Spire claims from its survey that more patients are asking GPs about private treatment. It claims that a third of those surveyed plan to make more private referrals this year. Almost half (49%) are said to be asking their patients if they have private medical insurance.
The number of people with private insurance is actually flatlining or even dropping, as people are made redundant and lose the healthcare benefit that went with their job, but Dr De Gorter expects more to pay out of their own pockets as the NHS delays increase.
I honestly believe that, unless Lansley is stopped, the end of the NHS as we have known it is in sight. Private hospitals will lure top surgeons away from the NHS and will step up their GP-influencing campaigns. Of course this is one of the aims of the Conservative minister. Competition, he will argue, will lead to even better healthcare and higher standards. So far as the private sector is concerned that is correct but the massive flip side is that the NHS hospitals, starved of funding from basic work, will deteriorate and ultimately decline in numbers.
The end of the Lansley trail is plain to see. If you have expensive health insurance, or are relatively wealthy, you will notice little difference. If you don’t, you will probably die or at best suffer a lower quality of life.
If we regard that scenario as unduly pessimistic we will delude ourselves and betray generations to come!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; LUCK: “Everything went right for him until the day he was born”….Victor Borge “If it was raining soup, he’d be out with forks”…..Brendan Behan “Just my luck. I was at the airport when my ship came in” ………Henny Youngman “As one door closes another falls on top of you”…..Angus Deayton “It always looks darkest just before it gets totally black”…….Charlie Brown “Age does not diminish the extreme disappointment of having a scoop of ice cream fall from the cone”…..Jim Frieberg “What I’m looking for is a blessing that’s not in disguise”…..Kitty O’Neill Collins “I’m so unlucky that if I was to fall into a barrel of nipples I would come out sucking my thumb”……Freddie Starr
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Shane Fenton 2. Gordon Sumner
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Where did troops fight for control of Islam’s holiest shrine? 2.Who went out to be Rhodesia’s last British governor?
The weathermen came under attack in Scotland yesterday but it has to be said that they got it right here. We had a respite yesterday from our now established thawing routine on the allotment but it was back to square one this morning. The surest way to kill poultry is to deprive them of water and we toiled for an hour using the age-old method of dropping ice-solid containers into a bucket of boiling water. It solved the chicken’s dilemma but did nothing for our blue digits. I should perhaps mention that Albert’s are black, the result of his once shaking hands with Lady Gaga and refusing to ever wash his mitts again. But the job is done and we are cheered by the forecast of above-freezing temperatures on Thursday. Everything is relative and after this ferret version of Ice Station Zebra, five degrees above will feel like the tropics.
One of our helpers this morning was retired GP Steven. Inevitably the topic as we thawed ourselves out in the shed was Andrew Lansley, the new disease afflicting the NHS as no other has ever managed to do. One of the first deeds of the new Health Secretary was to abolish waiting time targets. The view of Steven and his pals is that some targets were pointless and bureacratic but these were not amongst them. Demand huge efficiency cuts from hospitals and abolish their waiting time targets and guess what happens. Correct, the waiting times are already extending and thousands of patients are now facing the prospect of long waits to see a specialist. Things such as weekend ‘catch-up’ clinics have been dropped and the option of private treatment has crawled out from under the rock that was guaranteed waiting times. This is probably exactly what Lansley intended but what on earth is he trying to achieve with GP commissioning?
To Steven and several current GPs that I have spoken to ( as an ex PCT chairman I made many friends amongst the local GPs) the whole idea is a complete mystery. But today Lansley will announce the creation of the first 52 GP consortiums who will replace Primary Care Trusts and will assume control of commissioning. In other words they will decide how the £80 billion budget is to be allocated. According to the press releases millions of patients will take greater control of health care. How will they? In our patch none of the 130 GPs will be involved in the consortiums and no one seems to know who they will comprise. So how do their patients suddenly take control?
But the greatest mystery for all that Steven and I have spoken to is how the enormous unfairness of massive postcode medicne will be avoided. To an extent it has always been a bugbear but at least the Department of Health has co-ordinated the Primary Care Trusts. Left to their individual fancies the hundred or so eventual consortiums will opt for different priorities and the fate of some patients will vary accoridng to where they live. This cannot be right.
There is a suggestiuon that to avoid this, Lansley may impose a central body and encourage each consortium to recruit experts from the defunct Primary Care commissioners. But if he does that the poossibility of finishing back where he started is a real one.
The main medical authorities such as the BMA are refusing to have anything to do with the project which is therefore being driven by politicians supported by some GPs who prefer not to practice hands-on medicine plus a few who have an axe to grind. One suspects that the hidden agenda is to open the door to privatisation, something Patriciaa Hewitt played with with disastrous effects. But it won’t even achieve that. So far as anyone understands the revolutionary plan it will simply result in a giant mess and a situation similar to schools where people move home to be in a catchment area offering what they seek.
The NHS has made enormious progress over the past few decades but it had become choked with bureaucracy and red-tape. This needed treatment but what is happening is not treatment, it is slaughter. The one redemming feature is today claimed to be the transfer of power to patients. How will it do that? Greater minds than mine are completely bemused and simply cry it won’t!
I am rapidly coming to the view that the loner Lansley should carry a health warning on his rumpled coat!
WIKILEAK; WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON?
Various governments are now threatening all sorts of action against the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. It is inevitable that people around the world are wondering if the sudden appearance of charges of sexual assault on two women in Sweden is a co-incidence. Yesterday a district judge refused him bail
In truth we have no idea, but one thing is for sure. The Americans, who are the most strident in condemning the daily publication of embarrassing cables, are the people really responsible for this fiasco. A soldier was able to download thousnads of secret documents on to a Lady Gaga disc. Clearly the security in Washington is lax beyond belief. The people ultimately responsible are the American authorities.
The views of the website range from concern at the repression of information through to amazement that diplomats would be so stupid as to commit such nonsense to written form. And many abhor the activities of the website. But one common view prevails – the Americans should get their security act together!
ASHES; NOW COMES THE BACKLASH!
The Australian press is tearing Ricky Ponting to pieces in the aftermath of the thrashing by England. But it is hard to see what more he could have done with the bunch that he has, other than to score runs himself. Some Aussie papers are campaigning for the return of Shane Warne who still plays IPL cricket. That seems a retrograde step given that the wizard is 41. Certain it is that England would not be overjoyed since even at that age Warne is light years ahead of the present choices.
Looking back to my predictions I have to confess to gettimg most things wrong. My self understanding tells me that I should stick to the day job! I certainly didn’t expect to see Finn as the leading pace bowler with nine wickets after two Tests!
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1 Argentina 2. Cyprus
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. On which island did Noel Coward die? 2. Which was Roger Moore’s first Bond film?