Friday 11 February 2011

Time To Destabilise The NHS, Says Righteous Moron

Boy! If implemented, there's going to be acres of fun to be had with this.

Drunk people should pay for the treatment they receive at accident and emergency units, a patients' group has said.
A group populated by vacant pillocks with the foresight of a circus clown waving to the crowd before walking into a door, presumably.

[Margaret Watt, chair of the group,] said drunk people should be charged for using ambulances and for the time of staff who treated them.

She said that the money generated from such a scheme should then be invested in increasing NHS staff numbers.
I'm just trying to imagine the meeting where, having come up with such an empty-headed idea, she looked round the table and asked if anyone could see any potential problems, only to be met with furious head-shaking and heroic ignorance. Anyone with something between their ears more substantial than silly putty, of course, would have been throwing their hand in the air and shouting "ooh, ooh, Miss!" (or Ms, it would seem) at this point.

Let's start with the obvious one. What happens if someone is injured badly and decides to tough it out instead of getting this newly-chargeable treatment? Alcohol is well known to impair judgement and to increase a sense of invincibility, after all (though admittedly such a concept is likely alien to these stupid purse-lipped crones). Is a bit of time spent treating a patient - who may well have already paid plenty into the system by way of taxation - preferable to, say, their dropping dead from subsequent haemorrhaging?

Too far-fetched? Oh I don't think so, chummies. I'd give it a month before we hear of the first fatality.

Charging for the ambulance is a great idea (sarky alert), but the same scenario applies. If the patient knows that there will be a bill at the end of A&E treatment, many will refuse. What's the answer to protect them if the paramedic suspects their injury to be serious? Are they to be forced to hospital against their will? I believe there's a law against extortion and 'extracting money with menaces', isn't there? That's some pretty important primary legislation to be drafted to avoid the NHS being dragged to court even more than they are already.

This is without asking how drunk is drunk enough to be charged? There really isn't any definition except the one currently used to define too drunk to drive, and I truly believe that a public sector which is itself intoxicated on other people's money will find such a level extremely attractive for this purpose.

"Sorry Mrs Prunehat, you've had three sherries, so we'll be charging you £261 for accidentally falling down your staircase tonight. You can pay in instalments out of your weekly pension, OK?"

And, naturally, once this precedent is set the same will inexorably follow for the overweight, smokers, drivers in 31mph+ accidents, and everyone else Ms Watt and her dozy ilk disapprove of.

Still, the private sector will naturally step in and we will see a new market in insurances for any such event. In fact, the more choosy the NHS becomes as to which behaviours they are willing to treat out of the huge extorted funds they currently enjoy, the bigger the insurance industry will get. And the more who feel obliged to pay insurance premiums for NHS care, the louder the call will be for a refund of NI contributions which were paid over their lifetime, in good faith, on the promise of healthcare which is "free at the point of delivery".

Oh my! Are we talking about a system of healthcare where those who are financially able will take out insurance for potential health mishaps, whereby those who are less well off suffer the consequences? I think we are, you know.

What a fucking great idea, Ms Watt. You're in effect advocating moving towards a slow break up of the NHS in favour of personal responsibility and insurance-based treatment.

Congratulations. Idiot.


Curmudgeon said...

Not to mention the sports injuries, of course...

The Filthy Engineer said...

Pity that they didn't have a comments section with that article.

Dick Puddlecote said...

PC: Quite.

TFE: My comment would have probably been a raucous belly laugh which I enkoyed as I read it. I really hope they bring this in, it'll be bloody hilarious to see the fallout.

The Filthy Engineer said...

Do the ambulances have credit card readers?

Ivan D said...

Spot on Mr Puddlecote. Margaret Watt is a classic example of the self righteous puritanical moron. The people who founded the NHS knew that it had to be universal and free at the point of service or fail for the reasons that you explain so well. Watt and her kind are the greatest enemies the NHS faces in this time of sound bite politics and irrationality. She is a nasty publicity seeking specimen who hides her extremism behind a so called patient’s rights group. I wonder if her corporate sponsors know the real nature of the organisation

The Filthy Engineer said...

I can't find out anymore from their website but the board only consists of two. I take it that they have some staff?

marksany said...

If you use a hospital in connection with a car accident, you are sent a bill which your car insurer will settle.

The Filthy Engineer said...

And this is what a Doctor has to say about this biddy.

"Go fuck yourself, Margaret Watt. And take your self-appointed 'association' with you."

Ooh err.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Is that true, Marksany? Hadn't heard of that before. So motorists are already charged twice for this 'free' service then? Interesting.

Curmudgeon said...

A further point is that most people admitted to hospital with drink-related injuries are likely to be men (or women) of straw without the means to pay for their treatment. Apparently ABC1s on average drink more than C2DEs, but are six times less likely to turn up in A&E with drink-related injuries.

Although maybe those of us who are not fans of socialised healthcare will welcome this intervention as creating a crack in the edifice.

Dick Puddlecote said...

PC: That is another unintended consequence which I expect to see. So do the NHS charge people on benefits or - as is more likely - they will get away scot free while those who actually do pay into the NHS coffers pay more.

It's loaded with fun factor, this. :)

Anonymous said...

Then, of course, the NHS will feel compelled to charge for all those frightfully expensive, life-long drug treatments which they currently provide free for those of the unsafe-anal-sex persuasion.

Oh, hang on, that wouldn't be very PC would it - it's OK to limit free treantment for heavily-taxed drinkers and smokers, but they'll still exclude the self-harmed, untaxed gay brethren from it. Wonder why ?

Dick Puddlecote said...

TFE @ 20:26: Have you a link for that quote? It's glorious. :)

Mark Wadsworth said...

I saw that on the BBC and read as far as the word "should" and then I knew that the rest wasn't worth reading. But I read it and came to the same conclusion as you anyway.

JuliaM said...

"Is a bit of time spent treating a patient - who may well have already paid plenty into the system by way of taxation - preferable to, say, their dropping dead from subsequent haemorrhaging?"

To the sort of pinch-faced, purse-lipped, dry old crone that, without Googling, I fondly imagine her to be?

Probably not.

Longrider said...

"Is that true, Marksany?"

Yup, been the case for years. My father was charged for an ambulance when a pedestrian stepped out in front of his bike. She admitted that she hadn't looked properly, but never mind, he was on a motor vehicle so his insurance picked up the tab. This was in the mid to late nineties.

marksany said...

Here you go. NHS cost recovery

banned said...

@marksany & Longrider, 40 years ago I was sent a bill from the ambulance people for being The Driver in collision with a pedestrian even though the police took absolutly no action against me (ie it was her fault for being a bad pedestrian).

back o/t, a mate of mine, a building site groundworker got pissed up on a Sunday night, broke his ankle; struggled into work the following day and hurled himself into the nearest trench and thus got sick pay as the result of "industrial accident".Under this silly new proposal he would likewise wait until he'd sobered up the following day before presenting himself at A & E thus making his subsequent treatment more expensive.

Angry Exile said...

I'm just trying to imagine the meeting where, having come up with such an empty-headed idea, she looked round the table and asked if anyone could see any potential problems, only to be met with furious head-shaking and heroic ignorance.

Like The Filthy Engineer I've had a look at their website and I suspect that rather than looking around the table she looked across it... at the only other person there. It's not just that the board lists only Watt as Chair and a Dr Jean Turner as Chief Exec, but looking at the page of health news the only people they can ever find to give quotes to the meeja are Watt and Turner. Having a .com rather than a .org address I take as indicating that whatever it is it's not a charity, fake or otherwise, and it seems to get by on contributions from a list of sponsors I'd avoid dealing with (in the unlikely event any decide to open a branch 10,000 miles away from the rest of them). A third name, Margaret Davidson, is mentioned on their About Us page, and Googling that name I see that she founded the thing in the 80s. I suppose if she hadn't then someone else would have, but don't you wish it had been a book club or something?

Re ambulance charging. I've come round to this from living here in Upside Down Land for a while. The thing is an ambulance call out can be fucking expensive even before you start thinking of air ambulances from some remote bit of the bush. Just talking intra-urban the costs can still rack up. Here you either get ambulance insurance to make sure you're covered if you need one, or you take your chances that you won't need one and get a big bill if you do. Whose fault it is doesn't enter into it - either the user of the ambulance service pays or their insurance does. Nobody's forced to buy ambo insurance and it's not dear, so a fair system I feel. Oh, and just to inform Watt, Turner and anyone else who happens to have walked into a SPAss meeting and not found a way to leave politely yet, charging doesn't stop pissheads and morons ringing up and asking for the ambos to give them a lift home or get beetroot out of their slippers. Really.

Angry Exile said...

Hmm. Last comment missing. There were a few links so in moderation limbo?

Dick Puddlecote said...

Sorry AE, you got stuck in Blogger's spam filter.

That's another unintended consequence, too. Once the patient knows they are paying for the service, don't expect the benign gratitude which one normally gets, they'll want a bloody good service for their buck. Somehow I don't think NHS staff will enjoy a more demanding kind of 'client' who has had a skinful. ;)

Oh boy do I hope they do this. :)

t said...

er, surely drunk people have already paid for their treatment by getting pissed on highly taxed alcohol, probably paid for with highly taxed income.

Angry Exile said...

Or beer vouchers paid for with someone else's income being highly taxed ;-)

DP, no worries. I thought that might have happened. My own fault for putting the links in despite knowing Blogger's spam filter gets all excited about that sort of thing.