Tag Archives: scaremonger

New scaremongering over cost of NHS ignores vast possibilities for change

The NHS budget would have to rise by two per cent every year until 2066 to be balanced, the OBS said. [Image: Isabel Infantes/AFP/Getty Images].

You didn’t think the NHS crisis would go away just because Theresa Mayfly made a (poor) speech about Brexit, did you?

Not a bit of it! The Tory government and all its stooges have a lot more scaremongering to do, if they’re going to get you to accept privatisation of healthcare and make you start paying health insurance.

(That will be on top of the tax and National Insurance you currently pay for the NHS, because you can bet they aren’t going to cut your taxes any time soon.)

Today’s turn of the screw has it that the NHS will need an extra £88 billion in funding over the next 50 years because medicines and treatments are going to become more expensive and more of us are going to need them.

That is, of course, a preposterous statement.

It assumes that nothing will be done to alleviate the causes of funding pressure on the health service – and that would only be true if the Conservatives stayed in office for the next 50 years, inflicting their wretched rule. They should come with a health warning: “Tories can seriously damage your health.”

This is demonstrably true. Remember when then-Health minister Alistair Burt filibustered a bill that would have provided cheap and effective drugs for the NHS by compelling the Government to seek new licences for medicines that were not covered by patents but which could benefit patients? He probably added billions to the 2067 cost of the NHS, right there.

There are other ways to reduce costs besides the price of medicines, though. For a start – ending bed-blocking. How many healthy people are in hospital beds because there are no care homes for them and their own family members (if they have any) simply won’t have them?

That can be solved very easily, with a little funding for social care, and a little education for family members. There are advantages to having somebody at home all the time, especially a senior citizen, that some families do not realise. I shall not go over those arguments here, but be assured that they are good.

Over time, it is likely that fewer people will fall victim to some health threats, because information enabling their prevention will become available. That should reduce the burden on the health service and prevention is always better than cure.

Some health threats, of course, happen because of workplace conditions created and supported by Conservative policy. Light-touch regulation means companies are able to flout the Health and Safety at Work Act, leading to accidents and also long-term health needs caused by poor conditions in the workplace.

Low pay causes stress, mental illness and also physical illness, as workers struggle to make ends meet. It also causes low productivity and harms profitability, although Tory-supporting bosses get upset whenever that is explained to them.

Proper regulation and decent pay would solve a majority of these workplace problems.

Finally, there is the spectre of private health companies and the huge amounts of money they are stealing from the public health system. Eliminating them – and the bureaucracy that supports them – would free more than £22 billion today. Who knows how badly they’ll be fleecing us in 2067, given the chance?

None of the above requires a breakthrough in medical science.

All it needs is the will to do things in a better way – starting with the removal of the Conservative government that is the cause of so much illness.

Get rid of the Tories and we could – literally – save a fortune.

The NHS budget will need to increase by £88bn over the next 50 years, meaning governments could have to raise taxes or cut spending in other areas to fund it, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has said.

The soaring costs threaten to render public finances generally “unsustainable”, according to the OBR’s latest fiscal sustainability report. It says the government could find it hard to deliver on its pledge to balance the budget during the next parliament.

The NHS’s budget will need to increase from £140bn in 2020-21 to about £228bn by 2066-67 in order to keep pace with the rising demand for healthcare, according to the OBR’s projections.

Source: NHS will need £88bn extra by 2067, says OBR forecast | Society | The Guardian

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Scaremonger Leslie still represents the ugly side of neoliberal New Labour

Chris Leslie: Neoliberal, Blairite, behind the times – another closet Tory.

Today The Guardian wants to tell us the mainstream Labour Party thinks Jeremy Corbyn’s “starry-eyed, hard left” policies would keep the Conservatives in power for another 10 years at least. What a shame the paper is relying on the words of closet Tory Chris Leslie to make that point!

Leslie is the politician who, as shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, told the Huffington Post last year that a future Labour government would not undo the Coalition’s hugely unpopular cuts but would continue to impose the austerity that has kept our economy in crisis for the last five years.

In that case, as Vox Political argued at the time, why bother voting for Labour? We’ve already got one lot of Conservatives in power; there’s no need for any more.

Particularly galling is Leslie’s claim to represent the concerns of the “progressive left of centre” – a part of the political landscape he cannot ever claim to have inhabited. He’s a regressive member of the Uptight Right.

In the HuffPost interview, Leslie told us: “George Osborne has had his five years to eradicate the deficit. I am determined that we finish that task on which he has failed”. In response, This Blog asked how he proposes to achieve that aim, if his methods are the same?

140601uglynewlabour

Chris Leslie’s idea of socialism: Seems a lot like Toryism, doesn’t it?

The man just wasn’t making sense then – and he isn’t making sense now.

Jeremy Corbyn isn’t a hard-left politician; Leslie’s problem is that his politics is too far to the right of the political spectrum for him to belong in the same party – he isn’t a Labour politician at all. Austerity is not the answer to the UK’s woes – five years of insane Tory ideological policies have demonstrated that.

The people are crying out for a change – the overwhelming victory of the SNP, with it’s anti-austerity posture, at the general election demonstrates that – and claims that England is not the same as Scotland in this regard are groundless because many English people have been saying they would have voted SNP if they could.

Mr Leslie is wrong – in what he says, in what he has been doing, and in his choice of political party. Like Chuka Umunna, Liz Kendall and certain other high-profile neoliberals, he should cross the floor and join the party he really represents.

His announcement that he would not work for Mr Corbyn is the best news we are likely to get all day – and he should keep his scaremongering to himself.

The “starry-eyed, hard left” economic strategy of Jeremy Corbyn would hand the Tories at least another decade in power and end up hurting poor people by leading to higher inflation and interest rates as well as cuts in public spending, the shadow chancellor has said.

As Corbyn outlines plans to end “the years of political and economic austerity” to help create a high-skilled workforce in Britain, Chris Leslie has become one of the most senior Labour figures to say he would decline to serve under the veteran leftwinger.

In a sign of the deep unease at senior levels of the Labour party that Corbyn could be on the verge of a historic breakthrough by the left to win the party’s leadership, Leslie told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday: “This is a fork in the road for the Labour party. On 12 September we will know what the fate is of the progressive left of centre. There are millions of people whose living standards and working conditions depend on making sure we get this decision right, otherwise we face a decade or more of Conservative government.”

Source: Corbyn’s economic strategy would keep Tories in power, top Labour figure says | Politics | The Guardian

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The end of patient confidentiality as NHS information is sold to insurers

Americanised healthcare: It is appropriate that the only appropriate image I could find features dollars instead of pounds - because it is clear that the Tory government is changing the NHS into an Americanised insurance-based service.

Americanised healthcare: It is appropriate that the only appropriate image I could find features dollars instead of pounds – because it is clear that the Tory government is changing the NHS into an Americanised insurance-based service.

Confidential information on NHS patients has been sold to insurance companies who used it in combination with information from credit rating agencies to identify customers and “refine” their premiums – increasing the costs of policies for thousands of customers, despite all the Tory-led government’s assurances to the contrary.

According to the Daily Telegraph, “a major UK insurance company… was able to obtain 13 years of hospital data – covering 47 million patients.

“As a result they recommended an increase in the costs of policies for thousands of customers last year.”

The revelation comes only days after plans to sell the confidential medical information of every NHS patient in England were put on hold amid a public outcry.

The care.data system, also called variously the General Patient Extraction Service (GPES) or the Health and Social Care Information Centre, was dreamed up as a money-spinning device by Jeremy Hunt’s Department of Health.

The aim is that, if you are an NHS patient in England, your GP will be forced to provide your confidential records, showing every medical condition you have ever had and providing intimate details of your current state of health, to a huge national database.

From there, your information may be sold on to private healthcare and pharmaceutical companies for “research”. The government has said the information would be “pseudonymised”, in an attempt to reassure you that you cannot be identified from the information to be provided to outside organisations.

Only last Friday the BBC was reporting that critics of the scheme were “scaremongering”.

The Corporation – which has failed to report the new development – quoted Tory MP George Freeman, founder of Patients4Data, which represents charities and drug companies (and not patients, apparently) as follows: “We cannot let opponents peddling scaremongering myths stop patients benefiting from this quiet revolution of modern medicine.”

And last month, NHS England categorically stated: “No data will be made available for the purposes of selling or administering any kind of insurance.”

Vox Political has made it clear from the outset that this is not true, and in fact it will be entirely possible to trace your medical information back to you. Now we have proof.

NHS England has delayed compiling the new database of English NHS patients until the autumn. You could help sink the scheme altogether, if you don’t want your government – and your NHS – to sell your information into the wrong hands. Just opt out of the data sharing scheme, using a form designed by the medConfidential website.

Make no mistake – the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats in Parliament have betrayed you.

They have already sold hospital patients’ information to insurance companies, and there can be no doubt that the intention is to do the same with GPs’ confidential records, with a consequential increase in insurance costs to people across the country.

They are turning your beloved National Health Service into an insurance-based scheme, on the same lines as the vastly more expensive American system.

They have been lying to you.

They intend to profit from selling your information – to companies that intend to profit by using it against you.

Are you going to sit there and let them?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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‘Scaremongering’, Iain? Isn’t that more your line of work?

Iain Duncan Smith reckons there is no link between his regressive changes to benefits and the rise of food banks. Let's check that. First, we'll look at wages - because working people are going to food banks as well as the unemployed. This graph clearly shows how wage increases have dropped (while inflation has continued to boost prices).

Iain Duncan Smith reckons there is no link between his regressive changes to benefits and the rise of food banks. Let’s check that. First, we’ll look at wages – because working people are going to food banks as well as the unemployed. This graph clearly shows how wage increases have dropped (while inflation has continued to boost prices).

As far as the effects of benefit up-rating measures are concerned, reductions in entitlement are unsurprisingly concentrated in the bottom half of the income distribution. The lowest-income decile group see the largest fall in entitlements as a percentage of income (1.5%) as a result of measures in the Bill, and the second decile see the largest decrease in cash terms, losing about £150 per year on average.

As far as the effects of benefit up-rating measures are concerned, reductions in entitlement are unsurprisingly concentrated in the bottom half of the income distribution. The lowest-income decile group see the largest fall in entitlements as a percentage of income (1.5%) as a result of measures in the Bill, and the second decile see the largest decrease in cash terms, losing about £150 per year on average.

What does this mean for foodbanks? This graph, showing the exponential rise in their use, should be self-explanatory - to everyone not at the DWP, at least.

What does this mean for foodbanks? This graph, showing the exponential rise in their use, should be self-explanatory – to everyone not at the DWP, at least.

Iain Duncan Smith needs to think before making unwise statements.

He was in the headlines over the weekend after he accused food bank charity The Trussell Trust of “scaremongering” in order to get publicity for its work.

Refusing to meet representatives of the trust – thereby reneging (in advance!) on a promise we all heard during the food bank debate in Parliament last week – he stated in a letter written during November that the increased poverty forcing people to seek food bank aid was not linked to his regressive changes in the social security system, and that the charity was using this claim to get publicity for itself.

Quoted in The Observer, his letter began by criticising the “political messaging of your organisation”, which “despite claiming to be nonpartisan” had “repeatedly sought to link the growth in your network to welfare reform”.

He went on to reject suggestions that the government was to blame: “I strongly refute this claim and would politely ask you to stop scaremongering in this way. I understand that a feature of your business model must require you to continuously achieve publicity, but I’m concerned that you are now seeking to do this by making your political opposition to welfare reform overtly clear.”

Has nobody noticed that this attitude is clearly contradictory? If The Trussell Trust was a corporation that was seeking to increase its share of a market, then he might have a point, but the entire thrust of this charity’s argument is that everyone involved wishes they were not having to do this work. Any publicity it seeks is intended to reduce the need for food banks, rendering Mr Duncan Smith’s claims about publicity-seeking null and void.

One would have expected him to realise this when he found himself writing that the Trust had “repeatedly sought to link the growth in your network” – a growth that the Trust deplores – “to welfare reform”.

Also, if he wants to refute any claim he must provide evidence to the contrary – a feat that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has yet to manage regarding any of his policies.

But then, as Sir John Major has pointed out, he isn’t very bright.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson, quoted in the same newspaper report, said, “There is no robust evidence that welfare reforms are linked to increased use of food banks.”

Oh no? Let’s resort to a little common sense then. What do you think happens when wages are pushed downwards for a period of more than three years, while benefits are slashed to the bone?

Exactly. Perhaps, if the DWP wants evidence, it should do some empirical research.

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