Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The Shiny Pebble In The Crown

About ten days ago, the BBC was gushingly reporting on how valuable - even cost-effective - NHS smoking cessation centres have proven to be in the past decade.

Faithfully reproducing quotes from a selection of pharma shills with clear conflicts of interest, Nanny Beeb was thrilled to report that the service was the "jewel in the NHS crown".

Chris Snowdon fisked the unutterable garbage here, and Lord did it beg for it.

But, embarrassingly for our {cough} world-respected news gathering organisation, their overtly-partial simpering to the public sector tool of tobacco control has been rendered even more pathetic by, err, tobacco controllers themselves.

Here is what Aussie smoke-haters Simon Chapman and Mike Daube have to say about the glowing report of NHS 'success' at the BMJ.
West et al report that across 10 years, 5,453,180 smokers attended and set quit dates at English smoking cessation services operating through 151 English Primary Health Care Trusts (PHCTs). However, they do not specify if these were unique individuals or included multiple attendances by some smokers. 
By applying relapse estimates to their four week data, they calculate a 12 month cessation yield above that which would have been expected from just writing a prescription for a smoking cessation treatment. For the most recent year this was an additional 21,723 ex-smokers. Averaged across the 151 PHCTs, this is 144 per PHCT, less than 3 each week.
Not great for an outlay from our taxes of £84m per year, eh? When even rabid anti-smokers describe state-sponsored nagging as an abject failure, the waste of taxes is shown to be even more stark, no matter how much the state's mouthpiece try to pretend otherwise.

Jewel in the crown? Not really. More accurately one of those pretend gems like cubic zirconia, paste, or maybe a shiny beach pebble which kinda looks pretty but is just an inconsequential and valueless piece of rock.

Still, it's nice to see - in this era of much-needed austerity - our antipodean friends making a damn good case for the cutting of another wasteful £84m per annum from our obscenely swollen public sector.

What are you waiting for, Gideon? Get the fiscal shears out.


nisakiman said...

What are you waiting for, Gideon? Get the fiscal shears out.

Ha! Not much chance of that, DP. Too many interested parties with snouts buried deep in the trough of tobacco control.

Blimey, what I could do with £84m! I reckon I'd be able to bring decent sanitation to tens, if not hundreds of thousands of folk in the third world for that kind of money. (Unlike that other fiscal incontinence of 'foreign aid', which goes on palaces and ammunition for corrupt despots). What a monumental waste of hard earned cash.

I do wonder if the paymasters will ever wake up to the extent to which they are being conned by these shysters and parasites.

Greg Burrows said...

Hi Dick, it is not £84 million here is a copy of a post I put on Forest.
have found the cost of the NHS stop smoking service, its not £84
million because they have not included pharmacutical costs ie champix
etc, once this is included it comes to £146.3 million per year, this
changes the cost per person to (£146.3 million divided by 14,600 people)
= £10,020 Ten Grand per person.

Its here on page 87.
Health and Social Care Information Centre.

In 2012/13 the Net Ingredient Cost
(NIC) of pharmacotherapies used to
help people stop smoking
was just
over £58.1 million
£88.2 million was
spent on the NHS Stop Smoking
Services in 2011/12, the latest available report.

What the.... said...

“…..pretend gems like cubic zirconia, paste, or maybe a shiny beach pebble….

I would have thought something more along the lines of a hardened

Steve Brown said...

In 1971 I brought decent sanitation to the village of Chief Kasakulawi on the shores of Lake Tanganyika for the princely sum of NOTHING.

I was tasked as the day's leader of a troop of men on an Outward Bound course at the Lake School (now sadly defunct). I was told to organise my team to dig latrines for the villagers.
I took a different course of action. I got the two youngest sons of the Chief to pee into bottles, centrifuged the results and showed the Chief the bilharzia parasites infecting his sons. I then told him how best to protect his family and his village from further infestations. Stop using the Lake as a latrine!
I asked him to provide a dozen or so young men to dig latrines the appropriate distance from the Lake. They were provided and, in the time it would have taken my team to dig one latrine, there were five dug.

The Swedish Red Cross provided appropriate treatment for the infected villagers and, when I re-visited the village over ten years later, I was shown by some very proud people, the latest latrines they'd dug and religiously used. The Red Cross Nurse in attendance said that the incidence of bilharzia infection in the village had fallen dramatically.
THAT is what effective overseas aid is all about, not pissing millions of pounds into the pockets of corrupt government and local 'officials'.

Jay said...

Odd to find TC not presenting a united front (and haven't there been other instances as well?). Are its various arms subject to the same petty jealousies found in other organisations or are they fighting for a share of the same, hopefully, increasingly limited funding? Whatever...bring it on for exposure!

JonathanBagley said...

Fairly soon 10% of smokers will have switched to ecigs and they will be claiming the credit and that it was money well spent.