It’s Still the British Government

As the euphoria of Labour’s ejection from Government recedes and the novelty of the new coalition Government wears off, it’s time to realise that the more things change the more they stay the same.  Here’s what to expect:

There wasn’t much conservative left about the Conservative Party before the General Election. David Cameron was already on the left side of his party with the Thatcherites severely marginalised. Now that he in in coalition with the LibDems, he has sold off the rest of the family silver. That was the price of the deal.

There is no question about the UK becoming less socialist. In this country it is not a matter of whether socialism but whose socialism. The new Government promises to spend more on the NHS year-on-year, but it will be spending less than was being spent. All the other money went to the banks. There will still be rationing. After promising that everyone will have access to the health care they need, the new Health Secretary admitted that there will never be enough to meet the demand, but that by shuffling around the nurses into various roles everything will be gloriously better.

Having poured the public purse into the bankers’ bonuses, new money to run the Welfare State will have to come from somewhere. They aren’t talking about the tax increases. It’s all about the spending cuts. However the reality is that the Conservatives have dropped the marriage (and civil partnership) tax break they promised during the campaign. That’s £150 per year per couple. They have dropped plans to raise the inheritance tax limit. (Inheritance tax is the tax penalty for dying after saving any of the money that has already been taxed.) There will be a very significant rise in capital gains tax (this means that everyone will dump whatever shares they can before it comes into effect and will drive down the market). VAT (that’s sales tax) will rise to at least 20%, though it could very conceivably go higher. The Tory promise of not implementing the Labour Government’s rise in National Insurance tax is being kept in part. Employers will not have a rise in their NI contribution, but employees will pay more.

The new Conservatives are every bit as liberal on social issues as Labour. They partners the LibDems are even more so. The man who would have been expected to take over as Home Secretary has been left out of the Government because he unwisely sided with a family who would not let gay couples share a double bed in their Bed and Breakfast. Since David Cameron took over from Iain Duncan Smith (an actual conservative Conservative), the Tories have tried to be pinker and greener than any other party. Abortion is not even a political issue in this country, despite the 200,000 that are performed every year.

What remains to be seen is just how the new Government will deal with Labour’s surveillance society. Both the Tories and the LibDems have promised to get rid of ID cards. How far they will go in otherwise getting out of the lives of individuals and families has yet to be seen.

There will be no conserving of the British constitution. The House of Lords, already nearly bereft of the hereditary peers who populated it for 800 years, will be turned into an elected Senate, elected by the LibDem’s preferred method of proportional representation. Like the Lords it will be an upper chamber in name only, with the centre of power still firmly in the Commons, even if it will no longer have the claim to the greater legitimacy of being democratically elected.

As a trade off for the Conservatives taking on the LibDem tax increases, the LibDems only lose one significant one significant policy, which is the only one for which I had any sympathy. The Tories are opposed to amnesty for long-term illegal immigrants, so there will be no amnesty for at least the length of this fixed-term five-year Parliament.

I’m glad to see Labour gone. I’m hoping that the new Government will not be as arrogant as the last, though the British Government is typically quite arrogant, regardless of who is in power.

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Buying Drugs

Paracetamol (as it is known in most of the world) or acetaminophen (as it is known in North America) is the most commonly overdosed drug. Nonetheless, in the US you can go to Wal-mart and get a tub of 225 of them, since they are perfectly safe when taken as directed. In the UK you can get 16. That’s right. The biggest pack of paracetamol is 16.

Legally you can buy six packs, but most stores, convinced by propaganda, will only sell you two. In fact, when the discount store Poundland started offering three packs for £1, there was quite a kerfuffle. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society is ‘extremely concerned’.  The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency wants to change the law because they accuse Poundland of exploiting a loophole.

It’s not the price. You can get three 16s at Asda cheaper. Of course you would have to buy two packs,  take them out to your car, go back into the store and buy another pack, because this is apparently effective suicide prevention. The Goverment here thinks that you will buy the 32 (enough at once to damage or kill you anyway), and then think, “I’d like to do the job right, but since I’ll have to walk back into the store and pick another pack off the shelf, and go to the self-checkout, and fish out another 30p from my pocket, and take my receipt, and walk back out to my car… I’ll just go ahead and get on with my life.”

But the propaganda war as virtually been won. As reported in the Daily Mail,

Nurse Nichola Sheehan, who was stunned to spot the offer at her local branch in Chatham, Kent, said the offer could prove deadly and accused the chain of the ‘height of irresponsibility.’

Mother-of-two Mrs Sheehan, 47, who has worked for the NHS for more than 20 years, fears the offer could lead to tragedy as a dose of just eight paracetamol can prove fatal.

If eight is fatal, it’s seems like one pack of 16 would be more than enough. By Mrs Sheehan’s logic, they shouldn’t be selling it over the counter. In fact, they probably shouldn’t be selling it at all. It should only be available in a hospital administered by a doctor and locked in a cupboard.

Do we ever wonder why this country is going down the pan? The Government is busy micro-managing our lives, telling people how much paracetamol they can buy.

Errors

I have been marking exams and writing Year 11 report comments almost non-stop, but I saw something in the news that I thought would be helpful to those of you looking forward to healthcare in the Obamanation.

The Liberal Democrats, our third largest political party, have published data showing that patient deaths due to errors by medical staff have increased by 60% over the last two years. There are two ways of seeing everything of course. As you might imagine, Government experts see it that other way. They say the higher figures are due to better reporting rather than worsening care.

No one outside the governing Labour Party is actually buying that argument, but even Labour’s excuse is frightening. It means either more people are dying, or the National Health Service has heretofore been hiding the true cause of a huge number of deaths under the rug. Given that they have shoved more up there than we ever want to know, it would not be surprising.

And speaking of shoving things, after my dad had surgery for asymptomatic Stage 3 colon cancer, the doctors at MD Anderson suggested that especially since I already had the kind of polyps removed that were benign but could turn cancerous nearly three years ago, I should let my doctor know so I could have another colonoscopy ahead of my scheduled scoping in 2011 (only scheduled because I had the polyps, because the NHS does not allow for any preventative colonoscopies at any age). My GP contacted my specialist with my concerns and I was flatly turned down. I hope I don’t turn out to be another “error”.

Prioritised to Death

One of the nice things about socialised medicine is that it is reasonably easy to see a GP. You generally have to start calling at 8:00 am to get an appointment for that day, but they also run emergency appointments and will squeeze you in. However, when you need to see somebody other than a GP, your mileage, as they say, may vary.

I was fortunate in 2003 when I was rushed to the GP who decided that I needed to go to the hospital immediately. He called an ambulance and I was taken straight in, given morphine and stablised. They couldn’t figure out what was actually wrong with me, so after an overnight stay they scheduled me to come back in ten months to have a specialist look at me.

Stewart Fleming wasn’t so lucky. His GP gave him a note to take to the hospital saying he must be treated immediately. He was admitted after waiting six hours in A&E. By then it was too late. It took two weeks for him to die, but he could have been saved if the hospital had simple followed the GP’s instructions. He just wasn’t a high enough priority.

Giving the Gift of Death

Give the gift of death for Christmas! Do you know someone who needs a little extra cash to get that abortion? Buy them a Planned Parenthood gift voucher.

First alerted to this by Mere Comments, I found a more comprehensive story on Indianapolis Star website. I checked the PP of Indiana website (link intentionally not provided, but easy to Google) and sure enough they can be purchased in increments of $25, $50, $75 or $100.

The website does not indicate how much as abortion costs. You would think that would be a FAQ worth answering. Perhaps they don’t want the casual website viewer to know how cheap life (or death) really is. However, you can probably ring for that information before you buy your vouchers.

The Future of Health Care in the Obamanation

For those of you looking forward to the Obama promise of socialised medicine, read the article in today’s Sunday Telegraph, “Standards at UK children’s hospital ‘worse than in developing world‘”.

Leftovers

Reading about Elizabeth’s tooth reminded me of information I got from the Unnamed Woman over dinner yesterday.

She took the Older Child to the dentist because a filling had fallen out, whereupon it was discovered that he had a (fortunately painless) abscess under the tooth. The dentist is always quite snooty to the Unnamed Woman and always feels she has to remind the Woman what sort of foods are dentally appropriate for our children. The Unnamed Woman, being rather intelligent and healthy food conscious, never fails to take a bit of offence at this condescension.

Remarkably, the Ms Dentist was subdued. It turns out that the abscess was due to the dentist leaving something behind in Older Child’s mouth at the last appointment. The Unnamed Woman was a little pleased to see to the dentist bumped down a peg.