Posts Tagged ‘NHS’

Wholehearted agreement with Tom Harris

August 15, 2010

I can’t remember the last time an article by Comrade Harris had me nodding my head so vigorously. NHS funding of homeopathy is ripe for cutting.


All power to the quacks

June 29, 2010

In Commons Health Questions this afternoon Tory MP David Tredinnick was disgusted by the suggestion of one of his Liberal Democrat colleagues that homeopathy should not receive NHS funding.

Tredinnick, who has a loony reputation in a most appropriate sense, decried the criticism of his beloved homeopathy as “illiberal”. Despite what the cynics claim there was plenty of annecdotal evidence that homeopathy works, he declared. In other words, damn those scientists and their pesky science!

The complementary-enthusiastic Conservative then pointed out that no-one was forcing anyone else to use homeopathic medicine so why not just leave it alone. But Tredinnick is of course in favour of forcing us taxpayers to pay for this nonsense as part of the NHS budget. As with hospital chaplains, I spy some sensible public expenditure cuts!

In a two fingered defiance to sanity and reason Conservative MPs recently put both Tredinnick and Nadine Dorries on the Health Select Committee. Yes, that’s the same Nadine Dorries who, as part of her anti-abortion crusade, allied herself to Andrea Williams of the Lawyers Christian Fellowship, an evangelical who believes that the world is only 4000 years old.

Would it not be more sensible to establish a harmless All Party Parliamentary Flat Earth Society and then let Tredinnick and Dorries help run that?

Helping Dave, Nick, Gideon et al with their cuts

June 6, 2010

As a good patriot I want England to win the world cup, the Queen to live forever and the deficit to be tackled as quickly as possible (won’t somebody please think of the credit rating!? etc).

Regarding that later patriotic duty, I have identified a public spending cut the Government could be making. Let me refer to the fifth day of the debate on the Queen’s Speech in the House of Lords:

The Lord Bishop of Chichester: The Government’s background note suggests that the reference to doctors is shorthand for front-line medical staff more generally. It is good that the role of nurses is specifically mentioned. Less welcome, however, is the absence of a mention of other front-line health workers, whose increasing recognition as members of multidisciplinary teams has been a notable sign of the progress made over the past decade. 

Human health and well-being, including better clinical outcomes, require a whole approach in which doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, psychologists, chaplains and social workers all play key roles. The 1996 Department of Health document, Standards for Better Health, requires healthcare organisations to co-operate with other agencies to ensure that patients’ individual requirements are taken into account and that,

    “their physical, cultural, spiritual and psychological needs and preferences”,

are met. So we await with interest discussion and clarification of what is meant by, and who is included in, “front-line workers”.

It may be worth pointing out that a chaplain often serves more patients directly each week than any other single healthcare professional working in a hospital. Although his or her role may not usually be immediately life-saving, neither is the everyday work of most doctors, nurses and allied health professionals. In any case, life-saving is not all that is meant by good-quality healthcare. I hope that Her Majesty’s Government will assure us that chaplains are valued within the National Health Service as front-line staff.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): He asked me specifically about chaplains. We very much value the work done by NHS chaplains, who play an important part in providing high-quality spiritual care services to patients and staff, and we are committed to ensuring that patients and staff in the NHS have access to the spiritual care that they want, whatever faith they may have.

What’s this gibberish about chaplains being front line health care workers? It’s a miracle that the Bish was able to suggest with a straight face that chaplains made comparable health care contributions to those of “doctors, nurses…psychologists”.

Jako sez that in these belt-tightening times the NHS needs to prioritise the protection of certain resources. Preferably these should be resources of considerable utility. For example, A&E units. Or doctors. Nurses. Medicines. Things with undisputed ability to improve health.

Hospital chaplains cannot possibly be placed in that same category. In 2008 the National Secular Society that the NHS spent £40 million on providing chaplains and ‘spiritual care’. Well, time for Big Government to step out of the way and let Big Society – in the form of the organised religions – start providing the funds for this service.  

I expect that my David Laws Austerity Medal For Distinguished Cost Cutting and State Stinginess will soon be on its way in the post.

The Liberal Democrats who say ‘No2NHS’

August 16, 2009

First some figures:

Membership of the facebook group A Better Way of Funding Universal Healthcare (#no2NHS) = 120.

Membership of the facebook group We Love the NHS = 8,352 (and rising!).

Excellent stuff.

Looking at the names behind some of these online anti-NHS efforts, I was mildly surprised to find out that there was a Liberal Democrat mastermind pushing the buttons.

It seems that the ‘No2NHS’ twitter campaign and facebook group was set-up Sara Scarlett, a student at the Royal Holloway and former national officer of Liberal Youth (the Lib Dem yoof contingent).

Scarlett blogs at Liberal Vision, the libertarian wing of the Liberal Democrats. One of her recent posts is entitled ‘If you love the NHS so much – marry it!! #privatisetheNHS’.

In a commendably frank interview with Conservative blogger Tory Bear (I don’t think he considers himself to be this type of bear but I can’t be sure) Scarlett came out with all sorts of juicy quotes which reveal the full extent of her libertarianism.

She’s disappointed with Nick Clegg because he hasn’t been loud enough about “personal freedom”. Asked by the Bear whether her fiercely anti-state views would not be more suited to the Tory Party, Scarlett declares: “I’ll join the Conservatives when David Cameron legalises heroin”.


Other administrators of the facebook group include Mark Littlewood, a former head of media for the Lib Dems who has been subjected to the physical wrath of a Liberal Democrat MP, and Shane Frith, director of the think-tank Progressive Vision which – much like Dan Hannan – argues that “the NHS is providing one of the worst levels of performance in the developed world” and “a new system must be adopted. Singapore’s health savings accounts system is showing promising results”.

People who try to convince themselves that the Lib Dems are a harmless, perhaps even left-wing, alternative to Labour are mistaken. I’m sure that these right-wing libertarians are a minority within the uneasy ideological coalition underpinning the Lib Dems, but it’s always worth pointing out to voters that there is a strong strand of Yellow Toryism within the party.

An American patient in the NHS

August 13, 2009

A very fair-minded post here from someone who has experienced the strengths and weaknesses of health care in both Britain and the US.

She concludes: “Given a choice between the two systems, I’d choose the NHS in a heartbeat”.

The Sun joins in the great patriotic defence of our beloved NHS

August 13, 2009


Well, at least Dr Keith is.

Now if only some of his colleagues in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp – i.e. NHS-bashers employed by Fox News – were similarly sensible!

More on idiotic NHS-bashing

August 11, 2009

Encouraged by people like Dan Hannan, it is becoming accepted practice amongst American right-wingers to point to the dangers of setting up a health system in any way similar to the British NHS.

Even apparently serious publications like Investor’s Business Daily are joining in the anti-socialised health care jamboree.

A recent editorial – soberly entitled ‘How House Bill Runs Over Grandma’ – claimed:

“People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.”

Unfortunately for Investor’s Business Daily Stephen Hawking is both British and a fan of the NHS. As he told the Guardian

“I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for the NHS. I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived.”

It seems that the editorial has been changed. It now comes with the following correction:

“This version corrects the original editorial which implied that physicist Stephen Hawking, a professor at the University of Cambridge, did not live in the UK.”

That’s not the whole story though, eh? Not only did the original editorial imply that he isn’t British; it also suggested that the NHS would have wanted to bump him off. A clear lie!

So, dear American cousins, please stop believing any old rubbish about our National Health Service, as there are obviously a number of crude misrepresentations of the NHS circulating your media at the moment.

Dan Hannan’s hatred of the NHS

August 11, 2009

The calm and reasoned debate taking place in the US over the future of health care routinely features comparisons to the health systems in other countries, including our own.

As Luke and Hopi note, Tory MEP and libertarian hero Dan Hannan has been merrily trying his best to convince Americans that they have an excellent system of health care and they should count themselves lucky not to be saddled with something as godawful as the British NHS.

Hannan presumably thinks the millions of Americans who suffer without health insurance or who struggle with bankruptcy as a result of health care costs are better off than they would be under a NHS-style system.

After all, as terrible as it is to be in physical pain or to be made homeless due to hospital bills, at least inhabitants of the land of the free are not being subjected to a dastardly “Marxist system” and “massive encroachment of the state”.

Once again, here is Dan Hannan contributing to the red baiting and scaremongering in the US over health care reform:

The problem for ideologues like Hannan is that the NHS is a popular institution with – on the whole – loyal staff and satisfied patients.

Thatcher could not mess around with it too much. Cameron has made it clear he wants the Tories to be seen as the party of the NHS. Even for right-wingers uncomfortable with socialised health provision, it seems to be political commonsense to acknowledge the popularity of the NHS and to be seen as ‘on its side’.

Yes, there are always going to be problems with it (like any system) and we should always be open-minded about ways of improving the service, but attacking the NHS with the kind of language that Hannan uses in-front of American audiences does not go down so well with the general public over here.

Watch Hannan enjoy NHS-bashing banter with Fox News wingnut Glenn Beck in the clip below. Hannan is supposedly an intelligent man. Surely he has some suggestions from his own libertarian perspective on how US health care could be reformed. Does he have ideas on how to extend coverage and bring down costs? If he does, he doesn’t explain them here. Instead he’s just got lots of criticisms of the NHS.

Hannan is jokingly invited by Beck to stand for office in the US (they just LOVE his cute English accent and Thatcherite views out there!). As far as I am concerned they are welcome to him. Perhaps the Tory leadership also hope he decides to make a permanent move across the pond.