Monday, 7 May 2007

Rationing in the National Health Service

NHS doctors are apparently discussing rationing of treatments in the health service as a way of saving money (or making existing funding go further).

I don't really want to get overinvolved in the healthcare arguments, although it seems as if one of the richest countries in the World shouldn't be in a position where it has to let its old and its ill suffer and die because it is expensive to keep them alive with dignity.

The other thing that this discussion of rationing raises is the very real possibility of patients being divided into the deserving and the undeserving. As the country moves to the right, and it is becoming ever harder to stop that drift, we will hear more and more about treatments being withdrawn from those who have abused their bodies by their lifestyles.

I would not personally exclude the possibility, with the leaps in technology we are making, of some committee examining your supermarket loyalty card to see if you have been eating your 6 portions of fruit and veg. a day and avoiding unhealthy foods before authorising your operation.

Palmprint scanners in some primary and secondary schools are already recording what our children eat. I hope that their records don't come back to haunt them in later life.

We should be opposing compulsory ID cards, but just as invidious are the voluntary ones to which we sign up in increasing numbers. If we are asked for personal information we should be asking why, who will have access, and what happens to it when it is no longer needed .

8 comments:

ZinZin said...

The other thing that this discussion of rationing raises is the very real possibility of patients being divided into the deserving and the undeserving.

RM it already exists for example in organ transplants such as livers for example a consultant would ask the patient to abstain from drink for a period of time before being considered. In George Bests case he did stay of the booze for a year unfortunately once he had his transport he caved in to his addiction.

RM this already happens and with good reason. A patient with heart problems would be told to make lifestyle changes for the good reason that the procedure(by-pass surgery) would be a success and have some significant benefits.

We all responsible for our health and if we are obsese and in need of heart surgery, then the doctor has every right to remind us of our responsibilities. Its not right-wing to state the truth that we have a responsibility to look after our health.

red mist said...

ZZ-- I realise that this exists to some degree, and as I explained (badly)I don't know enough to be able to criticise the healthcare aspects, my main concerns are, firstly how the data is collected electronically, perhaps in future by third parties using data for purposes for which it was never intended, and secondly, why a country as rich as the UK (9th or 10th richest country in the world) pleads poverty as a reason for being forced to ration healthcare.

I agree that we are all responsible for our own health, but I also believe that when illness strikes an individual, irrespective of the cause, we should all contribute to its defeat.

The other thing it might be wise to bear in mind is that lifestyle illness doesn't only affect the self indulgent. Everyone wants to challenge the rights of the obese and the alcohol and drug abuser to treatment, but injuries to those who fall off polo ponies, or who fall off mountains (with or without skis), whose yachts overturn, or who compete in sport (dangerous or otherwise) get barely a mention. The problems stems from the fact that the middle classes believe that they are picking up the bill for everyone except themselves, when, in reality, they probably already get more from the health service than other sections of society.

If you don't believe in this two faced approach of the middle classes then I urge you to think back to last year and the young schoolboy who sailed single handedly across the Atlantic. It took him about 3 months if I remember rightly, but because he was middle class he was a hero. If a working class boy had not attended school for three months the middle classes would have wanted him put into care and his mother jailed. If she was a single mother they would want her whipped as well and put out of her house.

So I agree that it is not right wing to state that we have a responsibility to look after our health, but we cannot use that in a negative way to say that we have absolutely no responsibility to help others in health difficulty in a non-judgmental way. That would, in my opinion, be right wing

ZinZin said...

Christ I should start proof reading before posting.

ZinZin said...

RM I do share your concerns about the police state that is being built.

ZinZin said...

RM what have the M/C got to do with it they are a dismal bunch I agree. Comparing sports injuries to alcoholism/obesity/drug addiction/smoking is a misnomer those with sports injuries are unlikely to develop lifestyle injuries. No-one breaks a metatarsal eating doritos and watching Jonathan Ross.

red mist said...

ZZ--It is normally the m/c who are the ones pressing for a reduction in the cost of healthcare, working class people tend to take what they get in terms of tax and public services and you would be unlikely to see an article calling for a reduction in healthcare spending in the Scottish Socialist Voice, whereas you might well find one in the Daily Mail.

High levels of physical activity in dangerous sports are also a lifestyle choice is the point I was trying to make.

I am pleased that you share my concerns about a police state, the more mealy mouthed among us tend to call it a surveillance society, but I prefer to tell it like it is.

ZinZin said...

RM lifestyle choices can be bad for your health and good for your health. Taking part in a sport or doing any phsyical activity can cause injury but the benefits outweigh the potential risk of an injury. Sitting on your arse all day watching TV,smoking,boozing and eating junk food is a lifesyle choice that leads to ill-health. There is no comparision to be made.

Stunt men on the other hand....

red mist said...

Ah, but as you say in an earlier post, ZZ, at least my metatarsals are safe, unless I break one kicking the kids to get them to switch the telly over cos I can't get off the couch.