Archive for the 'Healthcare' Category

30
Aug
09

The NHS – Emotions Not Ideologies.

Before commencing what will inevitably descend into a protracted and unintelligent tirade, The Reddest Tory feels it only appropriate to declare an interest from the outset. One member of his immediate family (who could be described as The Bluest Liberal…) is a doctor who continues to insist they would never undertake private medical work on ideological grounds. It is therefore entirely possible that the following rant has been influenced by the fact The Reddest Tory has had to listen to his relative banging on about the NHS and its virtues on a routine basis.

The Reddest Tory notes that voice of the UKIP grassroots, ConservativeHome, has published another contribution to the NHS debate that appears to be gripping politicians during the silly season. The Reddest Tory cannot help but feel our healthcare system would be in a better position if this intensity of focus was accorded years ago, but then one supposes that we should be grateful for the fact our politicians are finally taking an interest. Anyways, this time it is Shane Frith, the Kiwi bloke at Progressive Vision, who has chipped in with a well written article pleading with us all to get over our apparent misguided belief that the NHS is the envy of the world. It follows hot on the heals of the comments made on the NHS by that bald Tory MEP who keeps sticking his nose into our domestic affairs (snigger) and the more thoughtful, interesting and worthwhile contribution from of qualified medical professional Dr Charles Tannock.

Now, The Reddest Tory would be the first to coincide that the NHS is far from perfect and therefore politicians of all creeds are doing us all a disservice when they flannel around and attempt to shut down discussion on this most important of policy areas. To this extent, The Reddest Tory, a fully paid up member of the I Love Dave fan club, believes Mr Cameron and his Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley have not taken the best course of action by trying to slam the door to stop the debating horse from bolting. Poor show lads.

The Reddest Tory does however believe an equally poor show is the kind of grand abstract idealogical nonsense we have seen from that interfering Tory MEP. The simple fact of the matter, whether the libertarian faction likes it or not, is that the public at large (gawd bless em) are emotionally attached to a healthcare system they see, rightly or wrongly, as the envy of the world. Therefore, Mr Frith can produce all the glossy statistical information he wishes to prove the NHS is a failing socialist leviathan, but the inconvenient truth for the libertarian devotees of Rand is that, just like the traditional pint glass, the good old fashioned inch and the pound in our pocket, we believe the NHS is the best of British. We love our doctors, our nurses and the fact we can trip arse over head and get treated for free. There might be good reason to move to a Singapore, French, Scandinavian or even American system of healthcare, just as there might be good reason to move to pints in plastic, metric measurements and the Euro or Dollar. But we wont. Because the inch, the pint, the furlong, the yard, the ounce, the BBC and the red phone box are all idiosyncratically British and we love them. I believe its called conservatism……………….and I hope the Conservative Party recognises that its pragmatism rather then revolution that we must adopt when it comes to healthcare policy.

That said, and as previously mentioned, we should not be so conservative, so Young England if you will (one for the historians there), that we should oppose good change. Necessary change. Change to Win if you will (one for the Cameronites there). We must debate the NHS and The Reddest Tory believes there is plenty for those who should do so to get their teeth into.

For example, is Cameron being financially prudent to guarantee that current NHS spending levels will be retained under a Conservative government? The Reddest Tory, despite being a dripping wet conservative who loves the NHS to bits, is not convinced by this approach and believes any spending commitments should include a cut to the administrative budget to remove unnecessary waste (44 grand for a laundry manager………..). How do we address the Tannock problem of dealing with those who persistently miss appointments? The Reddest Tory agrees with a comment PPC for Tooting Mark Clarke left on ConHome on behalf of people he has spoken to on the campaign trail when he suggests a deposit for an appointment should be made and returned only if the patient shows up. How do we persuade more doctors to leave behind popular places to work such as London and East of England and instead head for Wales, Wessex and other under subscribed areas? This is a question that could be addressed alongside a comprehensive review of the junior doctor recruitment system, which has been a total farce for years now. How do we address the fact that doctors salaries have got completely out of hand thanks to the incompetence of those who negotiated contracts which allow some just out of medschool F1’s to earn around 30 grand when you chuck in the banding supplement? One suspects this would be one of the biggest challenges a Secretary of State Lansley would have to face and one does wonder if the housewives favourite has the stomach for such a fight. How are we going to stop the culture of litigation from taking hold in the NHS that causes doctors to think twice about what they are doing rather then acting on sound knowledge and instinct, something which occasionally leads to fatal delays occurring just because they are fearful of being sued? How do we ensure hospital wards remain as clean as possible so when you enter a hospital you can be sure you’re not going to get worse rather then better. And how do we deal with those who believe it is acceptable to hit or verbally abuse NHS staff? Do we continue to give such individuals a slap on the wrist, or do we actually punish them in a way that demonstrates such behaviour is totally unacceptable.

The Reddest Tory believes the NHS is one of the things that is great about being British. Its not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and there are many issues we could and should debate within healthcare policy. One thing the Reddest Tory does not doubt however is that the NHS should remain, as far as possible, free at the point of need for anybody requiring it. The day insurance companies get a hold of our healthcare system is the day we might as well pack up our belongings and head elsewhere. We should defend the NHS with pride whilst accepting it has flaws that need addressing. But let us take polish to the NHS glassware, not a massive sledgehammer. And to Mr Frith, a man with experience of working with NZ National politicians, The Reddest Tory suggests he would perhaps be better off advising Tony Ryall rather then Andy Burnham or Andrew Lansley. For over in New Zealand, they have a ridiculous ACC system which covers up acts of gross medical negligence and costs the taxpayer millions. They have a huge recruitment problem that means they have to get scores of doctors from abroad just to run to stand still. They have a 50NZD or so fee to see a GP, leading to follow up appointment rates, particularly amongst poorer Maori patients, being less then impressive. And they have just built a super new hospital in Wellington with less bed capacity then the old one it has replaced, that is expected to incorporate the downgrading of nearby Kenepuru despite having less beds and which could be cut off from the rest of the city in the event of a large scale earthquake…………….

So, lets debate the NHS….but please dear god let us not go down the New Zealand route!