East Midlands Green Party Blog


Health Rationing

Health Rationing,  perverted ConDem logic.

By Mike Shipley

I was horrified to read a press report that stated that the Government was considering a new policy that could see the elderly denied treatment.  NICE, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence, has been asked by the Department of Health to look at the guidelines covering the availability of drugs and treatments within the NHS.  Their aim of course is to cut expenditure and to make the NHS a more attractive prospect to the private health providers that they want to see eventually take over health delivery in the UK.

The Government wants the decisions about making treatments available to take account of the ‘benefits the patient may have in society’, rather than to focus specifically on the welfare of the patient.  The purpose of this wider consideration is to target treatments on those patients who will return to work to the benefit of the economy.  If the patient is unlikely to return to work the treatment will not be considered to give value for money and may be denied.

Just what sort of society is this ConDem government trying to create? If they have their way it will be one where the majority of human beings are nothing but accounting units serving the impersonal economy.  For them, the welfare of the economy is more important than the welfare of people.  In their world, a person only has any value if he or she is contributing directly to wealth creation. Not, it must be noted, wealth for the general good, but wealth for the minority, who of course will have no problems buying what ever treatment they need.

This is yet another example of the nasty, mean attitude of the Conservative–Liberal Democrat Government.  It is also another example of bad policy from the Treasury, which now runs the Government at the behest of private financial interests.  Just who do these people think they are to judge us, the people who legitimise their power, as worthy or not worthy of life or health?  How have we, the people of the UK allowed this situation to develop in which a millionaire sect decides who can have  treatment and who should be left to suffer and die?

I looked at a few statistics and found that the number of knee and hip replacements and cataract operations is now at its lowest for five years.  These are principally treatments for the retired sector of society, that is, according to this Government, the economically non-beneficial who cost the state more than they contribute.  We can see that treatment rationing for the elderly is already happening, to help to make up the shortfall in the NHS budget caused by the Governments £20 billion of cuts.  Cuts we might remember that are needed to pay for the bail out of the banks who messed up the economy in the first place.  Not that bankers need worry, they are still on multi-million bonuses and can afford to buy any treatment they need.

I said that this is typical Treasury short sighted policy, it is also grossly unfair.  Unfair because retired people have made their contribution to the nation’s wealth in good faith, paying direct and indirect tax throughout their adult lives.  If those who manage our economy, including the Treasury and the financial industry have squandered all this wealth, we can hardly blame the pensioners.  Neither are we going to see a miraculous recovery in the economy if pensioners were denied treatment.  If that were to happen, the cost to society would almost certainly be higher.

This is where the Treasury is short sighted.  It only sees people as units of immediate economic production.  But people are far more than that, and, once able to leave the formal economy, very many people make considerable further contributions to society.  How many grandparents take on the role of unpaid childminders for their grandchildren?  How many support in a wide variety of ways their stressed working children?  Cameron still babbles on about ‘Big Society’ without ever thinking about who is making this work.  It is the volunteer sector, and it is heavily dependent on the ‘economically inactive’,  those who the Treasury wants to dismiss as a burden on society, and who in fact are doing far more that this wretched Government to hold society together.

NICE has voiced its concerns about this proposal, and it is likely to be withdrawn as unworkable.  But we should not forget that it shows the true face of this Government and their financial backers. Please remember this face when you enter the ballot box.  It is us, the electorate who returned them in 2010, it is us who have the power to remove them in 2015.