Monday, 28 January 2008

Quote of the day

” Losers make promises they often break. Winners make commitments they always keep.”

Denis Waitley

Is the UK’s Welfare State actually still functional?

What is the point of the National Health Service (NHS) and social care under the ‘Welfare State’ if many of us will apparently be effectively barred from making use of it - whilst still being required to pay through the nose for it, under ever increasing levels of taxation?

If New Labour intend to exclude large numbers of the public from enjoying the dubious benefits of the ‘welfare’ state - and it seems it is in a ‘state’ ;-) for ideological, or moralistic, reasons. Then those affected should be allowed get their money back and opt out, to allow them to be able to make other arrangements.

It is expected that a report to be published tomorrow (Tuesday), will confirm that drastic tightening of rules over which elderly people qualify for state-funded care in their own homes is leaving hundreds of thousands bereft of help and in dire straits.

Lack of funding is being blamed for many councils only supporting the seriously ill or incapacitated. In some cases, pensioners are having to sell their homes to help pay for private care, or beg their families for money.

The Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) thinks the problems are likely get worse.

The Audit Commission has been instructed to produce produced a report ‘backed’ by New Labour Ministers. It demands councils should "make better use of charging" for services, including home care, rubbish collection and parking. This includes removing caps on charges for home helps and other services for the elderly who have managed to save for their old age.

The intention is to force people who have paid their share of local tax and National Insurance over the years, but can manage to find the money themselves somehow, to switch over to private care companies.

The Commission say: "In making council home care services less competitive by removing the weekly maximum charge, some councils have sought to encourage their most affluent service users to purchase services from other providers, freeing up council resources."

Strangely, this is the exact reverse of the argument deployed by New Labour against Grammar schools and Independent schools.

Now, according to a survey conducted by Doctor magazine, Doctors want to withhold NHS treatment from patients they judge are too old, or who lead unhealthy lives.

They want to bar; Smokers, drinkers, the obese, elderly and those seeking "social" abortions from receiving some treatments/operations.

They say the NHS can’t afford to provide free care to everyone. About one in 10 hospitals already deny some surgery to obese patients and smokers, with restrictions more often found at hospitals unable to manage their debt.

Advocates of refusing treatment argue that £1.7 billion a year is spent treating diseases caused by smoking, such as lung cancer and emphysema and this drains money away from treatment from the more deserving.

They conveniently fail to mention that non-smokers, who have never recklessly exposed themselves to so-called passive smoking, can also suffer from these illnesses.

There is something else they don’t mention when attempting to justify their views. It applies equally well to alcohol as tobacco.

In 2005-06 the excise duty raised on tobacco was £8 billion, The VAT charged on, the cost of Tobacco, plus the excise duty paid on it, was £1.9 billion. So that year the State milked the British Smoker to the tune of around £10 billion pound. Tax on tobacco products has risen since then.

This leaves aside their actual contribution to the NHS.

If New Labour are only spending £1.7 billion on smokers alone then that leaves them £8.1 billion in pocket – New Labour are making a tidy profit out of smokers.

There may be some extra temporary costs associated with sickness/disability payments but this is more than compensated for by smokers reduction in life span and the reduced pension payouts that follow. According to the Dr’s logic Smokers are paying the State for pensions they may never get to collect in full.

The Economic argument for with holding treatment does not hold water. Economically it would almost certainly actually pay the State to encourage smoking, so the underlying moralistic health fascism is exposed.

This is more evident still in the evident desire to punish women who fall pregnant by accident and produce another generation of state clients. Again the economics are clear. The cost of an early abortion is as nothing to that of child benefit and a single mother on benefits.

Finally where is the line in all this? What are the limits to what our self appointed masters and moral guardians will impose upon us? What other forms of behaviour they disapprove of? Who else will they refuse to treat? There is something deeply disturbing about this attitude.

It seems we are all in danger of having services we have paid for and rightly expected to benefit from randomly and arbitrarily withdrawn when we are most in need of them. Especially if we have committed the crime of being prudent, or enjoy a glass or two of wine – and whatever happened to the health benefits of wine we were told about?

If we can no longer expect to receive the services we are entitled to, because we have paid through the nose for them, then surely it is unreasonable for the State to expect us to continue to pay for them, effectively having to pay for them twice - and unwise of us to continue to do so?

If they can’t deliver they should get out of the business and leave it to those who will honour a contract and actually can deliver.