Tag Archives: experiment

Tories are using the poor for medical experimentation

Seal of approval: We asked TV doctor House MD whether he foresaw any problems with the Early Access to Medicines scheme. "Nuh-uhrr," he replied.

Seal of approval: We asked TV doctor House MD whether he foresaw any problems with the Early Access to Medicines scheme. “Nuh-uhrr,” he replied.

Concern has been raised over a plan announced by Health Secretary (and misprint) Jeremy Hunt to give new medicines to people who are severely ill, years before they are licensed.

In comparison, little has been said about findings by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing that people in deprived areas live shorter lives and spend more of those lives in poor health.

There is an obvious conclusion to be drawn from this:

If poorer people spend more time in ill health, then they are more likely to be given experimental drugs before those treatments are clinically proven.

In other words, the Conservative-led government is using the poor as guinea pigs for drug trials.

The BBC quoted Mr Hunt: “What patients want is sometimes to try medicines that may not be clinically proven to be effective but are clinically safe. We are streamlining the process so these medicines can be used much earlier – particularly if they have early promise – and that is something which will bring hope to a lot of patients.”

How does he know these medicines are safe? How does he know that people want them? How does he know that they’ll do what they say? He doesn’t.

This shows what he wants – to make the UK a profitable place for pharmaceutical companies by giving them a market for drugs that could be completely useless – or could have unforeseen effects.

It’s more marketisation for our once-great NHS.

Long-term readers will be aware that Mrs Mike has been receiving treatment from the NHS in England, including injections to alleviate the severe back pain from which she suffers.

I asked her if this announcement was worrying for her – as a poor person who has spent much of her life in ill-health.

“Nuh-uhrr,” she said. That seemed conclusive, so I threw her lunchtime slab of raw meat into the cage and locked the door before she could reach me.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Hands off my medical records, Jeremy!*

The two-fingered salute: Jeremy *unt displays his high regard for the NHS patients whose details he wants to steal and sell to private business.

The two-fingered salute: Jeremy *unt displays his high regard for the NHS patients whose details he wants to steal and sell to private business.

Conservatives. They think they own everything – including your medical records.

If you live in England, Jeremy ‘The Misprint’ *unt wants your doctor to send your confidential patient record to a national database, from which it will be sold on – sold on to make money for him, mark you – to “approved” private companies and also universities.

The system is called the General Patient Extraction Service (GPES) – although exactly who it serves is entirely up for debate. You may also see it described as the care.data scheme.

He thinks this gross abuse of patient confidentiality is a good idea. But then, he’s a Tory and therefore thinks he has a God-given right to take anything, from anyone, if they have less filthy lucre than himself.

According to the Daily Mail – and you know the Tories have lost the plot when even the Heil weighs in against them – the *unt wants us to believe that the information will be valuable for medical research and screening for common diseases.

And an NHS England spokesman told the paper, “The programme will provide vital information to approved organisations about the quality of health services.”

Oh really?

So in fact this information could be used by private health companies as evidence of failures by the National, publicly-funded, service, yes?

How would it help in screening for common diseases? This information becomes freely available without any data having to be sold – how else would we know when an epidemic breaks out?

And how is this valuable for medical research – beyond the possibility that the now-infamous ‘job offer’ for people to take part in human medical experimentation may be targeted at particular individuals, according to medical records that they thought were only available to their own, trusted GP?

Doctors say Mr *unt and NHS England have failed in their duty to publicise the plan in a proper and reasonable way, that patients are not getting an “informed” choice about the matter, and that patients could be identified from the data with any information other than that on common conditions – which, we’ve already established, becomes public knowledge anyway.

Some Local Medical Committees (LMCs) are already discussing whether to opt out of the system – and this blog would urge all the others to do the same.

If you are concerned about this gross invasion of your privacy, you can contact your own LMC and request that they opt out. Contact details can be found on the British Medical Association’s website here.

*In fact he won’t be able to get his filthy hands on them anyway because I live in Wales. The title is for effect.

Our upstart politicians have an important lesson to learn: Respect.

vote

Sometimes events coincide to create a coherent pattern, apparently by accident.

So it seemed today, with publicity surrounding the legalised corporate theft of all our images on the Internet, the part-privatisation of the government unit that has been carrying out illegal psychometric experiments on jobseekers… and the publication of my letter to the local newspapers, deploring a previous missive from a Conservative politician who was determined to parrot disproved assertions from his superiors in London, rather than treat us like intelligent creatures and try to connect on an equal footing.

We’ll start with the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, which received Royal Assent last week. Under this act, any image that does not contain information identifying the owner (or has had that information stripped away) will become available for exploitation by commercial organisations.

These so-called “orphan works” are placed into “extended collective licensing” schemes. Any user wishing to, say, put that silly photograph you uploaded to Facebook onto a T-shirt, only has to perform a “diligent search” for the owner which, when it comes up with a blank, will allow them to proceed with impunity. And they won’t have to pay you a single penny for the use of your work.

What can you do about it? Nothing, unless you can afford costly and cumbersome legal action – despite the fact that, previously, ownership of your creation has been automatic, enshrined in the Berne Convention and other international treaties where it is still considered to be a basic human right.

Would you like to know how the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills describes the changes? Like this: “For the first time orphan works will be licensed for use; these are copyrighted works for which the owner of the copyright is unknown or can’t be found.”

That makes it seem like a good thing; in fact, it’s quite the opposite – as you’ll soon find out.

Meanwhile, we see that the government’s Behavioural Insights Team – otherwise known as the Cabinet Office’s ‘Nudge Unit’ – is being part-privatised after causing immense embarrassment to the government when it was revealed that a psychometric test it had devised for the Department for Work and Pensions to use on jobseekers was not only fake but, in fact, illegal.

The team was established after the 2010 election to – according to the government – find ways of getting people to make better choices themselves, rather than through state intervention.

But the psych test foisted on jobseekers by Iain Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions was the exact opposite of this. Firstly, workless people have been forced to take the test or lose their benefits. Next, the results have been proven to be a sham – it seems you get the same set of personality results, no matter what answers you enter – so there is no possibility of personal choice. Finally, it turns out that the whole exercise is illegal according to both UK and EU law, as “informed consent” is required before anyone takes part in a test of this kind. This is because the test has been presented as research – a “randomised control trial” (see that use of the word ‘control’? Dodgy!) according to a Cabinet Office blog.

As fellow blogger Steve Walker stated in his Skwawkbox blog on the subject earlier today (which I have reblogged), “the test itself is not the point – what is being trialled here is the supposed effect of going through it on the subjects of the trials – the unemployed people being made to participate”.

Informed consent must be given before people take part in such trials, according to the law. A person cannot be pressganged into it; they must freely make a decision to take part – written, dated and signed – after being informed of its nature, significance, implications and risks.

There is also a data protection issue.

Apparently a competition is to be held to find a business partner for the Nudge Unit. It might be hard to envisage many reputable firms seeking to collaborate with an organisation that is known to have been acting illegally, but even worse is the possibility that this will be the first of many instances where parts of the publicly-owned, operating for the benefit of everybody in the country, civil service will be hived off into private, profit-making ownership by a government of privateers who can’t wait to get their hands on all that lovely moolah – that should belong to the people, not them.

Finally, the letter I wrote last week, in answer to one from the local Conservative Parliamentary candidate, was published today in the local newspaper. It responded, with evidence-based information, to a series of groundless assertions about the bedroom tax, the benefit cap and Employment and Support Allowance, that had clearly been handed down to him from Conservative Central Office. Particularly incendiary was the parroted claim that 900,000 people dropped their claim for ESA rather than take the work capability assessment. This had been disproved and ridiculed on the same day Grant Shapps originally came out with it!

It takes a special kind of contempt for your intelligence to repeat, as fact, a claim that we all know is false. The Coalition government seems to be trying to make a living out of it.

The attitude that we see, time and time again, is “oh, they’ll take what they’re given. As long as we put a nice spin on it, they won’t even notice what’s happening to them”.

What’s happening is, of course, that our freedoms are being stolen from us, and all we’re getting in return is meaningless soundbites.

There is an election tomorrow (as I write this). You can see that certain politicians, currently in office, have no respect whatsoever for you, your opinions or your freedoms. You can’t shift them out yet.

But you can – those of you who are voting tomorrow – send a message to them and, if you have any self-respect, you will.

I hope you get the representatives – and the respect – you deserve.