A longstanding 'public health' lie came close to destabilising the NHS over the weekend.
A move that could have seen obese patients refused surgery in an attempt to save money is to be reviewed after national NHS bosses intervened.
A proposed restriction by the NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group would have seen non-life threatening procedures delayed by a year for those with a body mass index exceeding 30.
The rule would also apply to smokers.
NHS England, which can intervene as the CCG is under special measures, said the group had agreed to rethink the move.As Snowdon has already noted, this is not how most people would expect the NHS to operate.
Rationing healthcare on the basis of lifestyle was never part of the NHS's plan in 1948. It it had been, there would have been even more resistance to the nationalisation of the industry than there was. But after years of wrongly scapegoating smokers and fat people for the NHS's spiralling budget, it's no surprise to find the service being turned from a free-at-the-point-of-need Ponzi scheme into a tool of outright coercion and punishment.Indeed.
It's what happens when health nazis torture statistics in order to play on bigotry and prejudice and pretend that smokers and the overweight are taking more than their fair share of NHS resources. Because that's exactly what this is all about, as alluded to in the BBC article.
"They are trying to lose weight in the vast majority of cases and to deny them treatment that they need on the basis of their weight, without then offering them effective help to help them lose weight is rather like discriminating [against] a segment of the population on the basis of their colour or religious persuasion."Besides which, it has, quite simply, never been true (like almost everything you ever hear from 'public health') that unhealthy lifestyles unnecessarily harm NHS finances. Whenever economic costs of socialised healthcare are calculated, it is always the 'healthy' - and not those who choose riskier lifestyles - who put the most burden on health services.
It should be obvious, especially since 'public health' wants to simultaneously tell us that smokers and the obese live far shorter lives. Healthcare costs for those who are considered healthy are more expensive to the system both short and long-term, and the largest financial commitment any government commits to - pensions - are hugely more costly too.
When tobacco controllers, or any other 'public health' charlatan, tell you that x costs the NHS y amount of money, they are lying by way of only giving you one side of the equation.
It's not hard to understand really.
While smokers and the overweight are often criticised for the financial impact of their unhealthy lifestyles, an obese person's medical bills actually average 10 per cent less overall than those of a person of normal weight.
Smokers require even less treatment, say the researchers.
The reason is that the healthy tend to live longer and so, while they might not have to battle lung cancer, heart disease or diabetes in their fifties, they may need long-term care for illnesses of old age such as Alzheimer's.
As a result, any "savings" made by them being healthy when young are more than offset by their being ill in old age.Tobacco controllers - who know better than the rest of us that smokers don't actually cost the NHS more than anyone else, quite the opposite - usually counter this incontrovertible fact with shrill straw men such as "so you're saying that governments should encourage smoking because it's good for the country's finances?". Well no, we are just arguing that 'public health' lobbyists should stop using outright lies to push their agenda.
The result of all this wholesale lying by health lobbyists is daft policies like that proposed by the ignoramuses at NHS Vale of York. To save money, they have taken the stance that the best thing to do is penalise the people who cost them the least amount of money in the long run. It's why they are not handling budgets or performing actuarial calculations in the private sector .. because if they were they'd be sacked.
Restricting treatment is just one stupid policy recommendation that 'public health' lying creates, the other is the regular call - which you may have heard from the most easily-gulled in society - to charge smokers, drinkers and the obese for NHS treatment. You know, because it's self-inflicted, innit, and why should they pay for the healthcare costs of others.
This is very dangerous ground for the NHS. Once you get into that line of thinking it renders the NHS unworkable. There's little need for those lucrative sin taxes now, is there Mr politician? Just think of all those treatments the NHS provides which the public regularly object to, and there are very many. If we can pick and choose who is treated and who is not, there are going to be a lot of green ink letters from Mr & Mrs Disgusted of Cheltenham.
There are also dozens of dangerous activities anyone could name that might end in long-term and incredibly expensive palliative care, why should the public collectively pay for extreme risk-taking? And you know that unwritten contract we have whereby we pay our taxes and you promise to treat us accordingly? Well, there is just the taxation now, if the benefit is being withdrawn for large sections of the population, we'll see those taxes dramatically cut so we can source healthcare elsewhere at our own cost, Mr Politician Sir, or we'll see you in court.
You can't have a protection racket without the protection, now can you?
It only takes one successful case and the NHS could be holed beneath the water line. Imagine the free-for-all as those most able to negotiate the red tape and best-placed to afford it opt out of a portion of their taxes and go private. Oh joy!
I've written about this kind of backward thinking from NHS administrators (who ironically are the biggest direct drain on the NHS) before, and whenever I do I find myself thinking "bring it on!", just before health service grandees intervene and tell the local idiots to shut the fuck up and stop trying to derail the gravy train.
Just like this weekend.
Oh well, these instances are becoming more and more frequent, so better luck next time, eh?
As a footnote, Snowdon also mentioned the appalling 'nurse' Jane "They'll just have to die" DeVille-Almond in his piece. If you've not heard her contribution to the "do no harm" principle of the medical profession before, you can listen to it below.