Thursday, 7 June 2007

Health Minister denies NHS anti smoker 'witch hunt'

Plans to get smokers to quit before being given surgery are not a form of "health fascism", argued Health Minister Lord Hunt, after he was urged to step in and overrule plans by local NHS trusts, which peers feel look like part of an anti-smoking "witch-hunt".

Yesterday, Conservative Lord Naseby raised the matter of an NHS primary Care Trust wanting smokers to give up, before having surgery, as managers felt it might improve recovery time. He pointed out that it was one example, of several similar proposals, for smokers, as well as those which targeted obese people.

He observed "there are all sorts of activities which, if stopped, would save the NHS money and ensure that people got better treatment."

Independent Labour peer Lord Stoddart pointed out that smokers paid much more in additional taxation than non smokers when they bought tobacco products and were "entitled to at least the same treatment as others".

He demanded to know by what right the "twenty five percent of adults who smoke - and the millions who are technically obese - all of them have paid their taxes and national insurance - are to be denied certain NHS surgery".

Lord Tebbit enquired how Lord Hunt would feel if similar rules were being applied to people, for instance whose sexual habits, "make them vulnerable to particularly unpleasant sexually transmitted diseases".

Lord Hunt avoided the question, blustering that it was "quite ridiculous" and in any case "This is a completely different issue"

Lord Stoddart asked Lord Hunt to use the NHS Acts to overrule the "discriminatory action". Adding, "There is an impression that there is a witch-hunt against smokers in particular.".

Lord Hunt argued that it was a clinical judgement, in the patients' interests and did not amount to a ban on smokers. He indicated that it had not been drawn up by the government but by Doctors and in any case it had not yet been approved.

He went on that it could mean fewer heart and lung complications, faster wound healing, faster bone fusion and shorter stays in hospital and said "This is not health fascism, it's not about discrimination against smokers, this is about what's best in the interest of the patient in terms of clinical judgement, and that is how it should remain."

No wonder the Government would like to emasculate the House of Lords, a difficult lot who tend to say “Now hang on a minute…” at inconvenient moments.

Now, since the subject of ‘health fascism’ came, up an observer might think that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck….

As for the “it hasn’t been approved yet” argument! Yet is the operative word and they were trying to ensure the proposals never were. We can be sure they will come up again – and again – and again…

2 comments:

Mark said...

Dear Phil, re comments on Roger T, I have a gmail account, how do I set up a "blogger" account that shows my full name "mark wadsworth" as my "blogger display name" when I post e.g. here or there?

gmwadsworth@gmail.com

Phil A said...

Mark, I thought A-ha! A comment!

I looked in anticipation of an erudite deconstruction of my pathetic mental meanderings only to find myself doing IT support instead ;-) c'est la vie.

If you don’t actually ‘sign in’ and come to this page you should see under the ‘Leave your comment’ box a “Sign up here” link.

Click on it, or the one in this message, it should take you straight to a ‘Create Blogger Account’ page. Just follow the instructions.

Once created, you can change your set, or change, your ‘Display Name’ i.e. what appears when you leave a comment to "mark wadsworth". It seems to default to lower case no matter how you type it in.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to sign up and prefer to use uppercase as well, you can just click the ‘Other’ radio button and Type in ‘Mark Wadsworth’. This works on my blog, but not all blogs allow this.

Hope this helps - Good luck.