Saturday, August 09, 2008

John Baron MP: FOI figures show NHS co-payments used to be allowed

MP says allowing patients to top-up would not mean the end of the NHS as we know it

Figures obtained by John Baron MP through Freedom of Information requests show that co-payments (or ‘top-ups’) were available in the NHS as recently as last year – before being stopped by guidance issued by the Department of Health. John has been campaigning against the ban on co-payments following the sad case of a constituent (Mrs Linda O’Boyle) who was refused funding for a cancer drug and then sought to pay privately. Under current arrangements, patients who go private for a drug not available on the NHS risk losing their entitlements to basic NHS care. Opponents of co-payments argue that topping-up would create a two-tier health service and undermine founding principles of the NHS. However, these new figures prove that co-payments were available in the past without any difficulties. A trust in Cornwall allowed 20 patients to co-pay for drugs which the NHS refused to fund before the ban was introduced.

Commenting, John said:

“The new figures show that co-payments were available in the NHS until last year without undermining its founding principles. Therefore, opponents of co-payments are wrong to argue they would mean the end of the NHS as we know it.”

“We always knew the present ban on top-ups is inhumane as it can result in NHS care being withdrawn from patients wishing to pay for drugs not available on the NHS. But these FOI figures also confirm the ban is illogical because it has been ignored in the past.”

“The latest NICE decision regarding the Bowel Cancer drugs shows just how far behind we are other European countries when it comes to patients accessing the latest treatments. This issue is not going away.”

From personal experience I know that the current situation regarding cancer drugs is perverse. NICE initially rejected the drug that saved my life, Velcade, and that decision almost certainly meant a number of people died in pain. The system couples that with making it impossible for people to pay for lifesaving drugs themselves, which means more early deaths and the attendant family tragedy. What kind of monsters are running our country? Don't they realise that these are real people, or maybe they just don't care.

Even worse than Heffer?

Simon Heffer is away, but a replacement has been drafted who spookily fills exactly the same niche as the great man himself. Her piece in the Telegraph leads on the case of the Conservative ex-candidate for Watford who engaged in a 3-year campaign of vandalism and harassment against is Liberal Democrat opponent, and her take on it is that David Cameron should 'speak up'. Now this man engaged in evil, criminal behaviour for which I fervently hope he will be justly punished. As soon as he was found out he immediately resigned from the Conservative Party, and if he hadn’t he would have been chucked out. What he was doing was not only against the Law, it was against the basic principles of the Conservative Party today, or at any time in the past for that matter. However, the reality is that every party attracts a certain number of bad people and the important thing is to note if their doings are broadly condoned or tolerated or if they are stamped on hard as soon as they are discovered. This man was in no doubt about the reaction of the Conservative Party so he walked before he got the boot.

What else is there to say? Does this woman seriously entertain the idea that this was in any way the way Conservatives are expected or encouraged to operate? If she does then she should lay out her case, and let's face it if she has something then it would be a huge news story. She won't do that of course because she has nothing. I'm an ex-parliamentary candidate, Constituency Chairman and current senior Councillor so I know of what I write. Conservative are expected to meet the highest standards in public life or else they cease to be Conservatives. There is nothing to this but one scumbag in Watford and the dripping pen of a columnist who has clearly been instructed to keep bashing David Cameron while Simon gets sunburnt. Oh, and the Liberal Democrats have jumped on this idea as well.

There's a surprise.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Labour pours more money down Northern Rock drain

Labour has poured another £3bn into Northern Rock, this time in the form of 'equity' in the failed bank. Let us be clear, if Northern Rock had not been nationalised then it would have gone bust. The ex-shareholders have not yet been compensated, so what we have is the government buying 'equity' in a bankrupt bank with a huge mortgage book of low quality loans in the middle of a housing crash and with a potentially huge unquantified liability to its former owners. This is not a good investment. They haven't even told us how much 'equity'? Does £3bn represent 10% of the bank when it is eventually floated back onto the stock market as is the supposed intention? Or is it 20%? More? Less? Who the hell knows. This is a simple case of good money after bad.

Nationalising Northern Rock made no sense in financial terms, but it was never about money, it was about Labour marginal seats. Make no mistake, if it had been called 'Southern Rock' and based in Guildford then it would have gone to the wall. That could not be allowed to happen to one of the biggest employers in one of Labour's heartlands so they used the taxpayers money to bail it out, and now to keep bailing it out because even with guaranteed government funding Northern Rock is still tottering. This is £3bn that the government can't use it to help the many people who are finding it tough as the country slides into recession. How about reducing taxes? How about kick-starting the housing market? How about reversing the punitive increase in Vehicle Excise Duty that hits the poorest families the hardest? No, instead the cash goes to preserving a few thousand jobs and a few jobs in particular: Labour MPs in the North East.