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.

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.

Professional Secrecy

I didn’t blog last week about Alex Dolan, when she was suspended by the General Teaching Council for undercover filming in schools. The footage was shown on the Channel 4 investigative program Dispatches and actually brought the state of Britain’s schools into the open. She showed very bad behaviour in four different schools, including teachers hiding badly behaved pupils from Ofsted inspectors, and pupils openly threatening violence against her. She revealed that the education emperor has no clothes and the GTC did not take kindly to being exposed.

This week it is the turn of Margaret Haywood, who filmed the neglect of elder patients in a hospital for Panorama, the BBC investigative program. Even though all the patients gave consent after they were filmed, she was charged with breaching confidentiality and struck off the nursing register. Because she was too concerned about patient care, she was declared no longer fit to be a nurse.

I’m also reminded of the cops who beat up newsagent Ian Tomlinson from behind as he walked down the street with his hands in his pockets during the G20 summit. Tomlinson later died. Apparently the balaclavas over their faces are part of their uniform to protect them from fire, but they are still supposed to wear their identification number. Their numbers were not visible, so it took a while to identify them from the video footage.

Is it any wonder that three of the areas of public service people know aren’t working are education, nursing and law enforcement?

Obama’s Deadly Confusion or Diabolical Deceit

It is hard to believe that President Obama hasn’t made the connection between science and theology. He’s either not so bright or ever so dishonest. First of all, he calls it difference between facts and ideology. It is nothing of the sort.

I’m sure all readers have seen the video clip of Obama signing the executive order lifting the ban on federal funding for killing embryonic humans. Here’s what he said: “As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering. I believe we have been given the capacity and will to pursue this research — and the humanity and conscience to do so responsibly.”

Here’s what he means: “As a person who wants to claim to be a Christian while offending no one, especially my liberal constituency, I believe we are called to care for those humans whose lives do not offend the abortion rights lobby and work to ease the suffering of a select group of humans at the expense of the lives of others. I believe we have been given this capacity by a Generic Non-judgmental Supreme Being, and the ability to choose our will to pursue this research — and the inhumanity and lack of conscience to think we can take innocent lives responsibly and call it science.”

So what drives Obama? It appears that the US can’t afford to let scientists in other countries get ahead of research in the US. Why? The only thing I can think of is that all of this federal funding will go to creating treatments  that will then make millions and millions of dollars for the health care industry. As Obama said, “When government fails to make these investments, opportunities are missed. Promising avenues go unexplored. Some of our best scientists leave for other countries that will sponsor their work. And those countries may surge ahead of ours in the advances that transform our lives. No, we can’t let other countries transform people’s lives!

And why shouldn’t it be us? “But in recent years, when it comes to stem cell research, rather than furthering discovery, our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values.” That’s right if scientists say they are doing something based on facts, then there can be nothing wrong with it. It’s the fact, ma’am, just the facts.

So how can Obama then flip around and say “We cannot ever tolerate misuse or abuse. And we will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction. It is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society, or any society.” So killing humans is not profoundly wrong and has a place in our society. And how, exactly is Obama going to guarantee the government never opens the door to human reproductive cloning?

After all, he has just opened the door to non-reproductive (in other words, embryonic experimental) cloning. Where is the ethical distinction that reproductive cloning is profoundly wrong yet killing embyronic human life is not? What if scientists decide that there is either great research value in a birthed clone or that even greater life-enhancing suffering-easing advancements will be accomplished this way? If those are the scientific facts, what right has ideology or theology to stand in the way?

Don’t Say Anything

Caroline Petrie has gotten her job back – for now. Given the overwhelming support she received in the press (including a petition started by the Daily Telegraph) and the broadcast media, North Somerset Primary Healthcare Trust probably didn’t want the backlash they would face if they sacked her.

That doesn’t mean that healing will be allowed to be associated with the Healer. The officially Christian country is still run by an aggressively anti-Christian Government. The Department of Health has issues guidelines that mean anyone working for the National Health Service who talks about their faith in any way to patients or colleagues could end up joining the ranks of the unemployed. It could be considered harrassment and intimidation.

This is further evidence that we are not living in a non-religious society, but rather an anti-religious society. (Not that I need further evidence, as I am confronted with this every day.) When Mrs Petrie was interviewed on the Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2, she was followed by an atheist psychologist. This woman was very concerned that someone would ask to pray from an ill person. She expressed that she would be very upset if someone asked to pray for her. (She made the point that she even rebukes those who say “God bless you” in passing.) The guest host of the show couldn’t understand why it would matter if someone wanted to pray to a God the atheist didn’t even believe in. This would obviously be done by someone showing care for her welfare. But for some reason the very mention of God to her is enough to set her off.

How do you hate Someone you don’t even believe exists?

Cease Praying in Somerset

Caroline Petrie is a community nurse who offered to pray for patient during a home visit.

The patient said she wasn’t offended, but she reported the “incident” to the nurse that changed the dressing on her leg the next day because she thought someone else might be offended if Mrs Petrie offered to pray for them. I suppose if someone is laid up with a bad leg, they have time to ponder the potential for political correctness in everyone else.

As a result, Mrs Petrie has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of an investigation. No doubt it will take a terrbily long time to determine if she offered to pray for the patient (which she acknowledges) or if the patient was offended (though she claims she wasn’t). I suppose they will want to find out if Mrs Petrie has actually offered to pray for anyone else. This would not be germaine to the actual incident for which she was suspended, but bureaucrats aren’t best known for due process.

What I’m not clear on is whether North Somerset Primary Care Trust has an actual official policy against prayer or whether it is rather a general policy against Christians.

Given the Third World quality health care in this country that can’t afford to pay for treatment that is standard in the rest of the civilised world, you would think they could use any available help, even in the form of divine intervention.

Birth Control as Population Control

I was about to go to bed when I saw that Nancy Pelosi said birth control will help the American economy. I had to say something. According to the Daily Telegraph, she has already angered conservatives with this. Clearly this conservative is a little slow in getting the news.

Her reasoning is that cutting back on the number of children will reduce education and health care costs and save the several States money in their cash-flow crises. How short-sighted can you get?

The school children of today are the taxpayers and wealth creators of tomorrow. They will be the ones funding Social Security. It’s not time for a Chinese one-child law.

Perhaps Nancy’s next idea will be to kill off old people. After all, they use far more health care dollars at the State and Federal level than children do. That will immediately free up tax money. It will cut down on Social Security costs as well.

Yes, the Democrats are in charge now.

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.

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.

Free Prescriptions for Rationed Drugs

Gordon Brown’ popularity is at an all-time low. The Labour Party looks to walloped at the next General Election.

At Labour’s annual party conference, Brown needed to pull a rabbit out of hat to try to revitalise his prospects, particularly to ward off challenges within his own party. There’s nothing Socialists like better than giving away something paid for by someone else’s money.

Gordon will be giving free prescriptions to cancer patients. Sounds really good doesn’t it? Well, the Scots are already phasing out charges and the Welsh have already abolished them. So really, Gordon is giving free prescriptions to English cancer patients.

If you live in the States, you may realise how expensive cancer drugs can be. In England, they cost £7.10 a bottle. Everything costs £7.10 a bottle. So you’re thinking, wow, from $14.00 per prescription to free – not bad a deal.

It’s not a bad deal as long as you can get the drugs you need. Gordon never said he would pay for all cancer patients. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) will still control which drugs are available. It will continue to work out its matrices and decide whose life is worth saving and whose isn’t. Some cancers and cancer patients are worth treating and some aren’t. That’s the reality of socialised medicine. That’s the reality Gordon Brown can’t do anything about.

And if you are in the States you may think, well, that’s just Britain; nothing like that can happen here. That’s the reality Barak Obama won’t be able to do anything about, if he gets Hillary’s way.

Joe Biden’s Disabled Thinking

I’ve been quite busy with work, so I haven’t had a chance to write anything the last couple of days. I had ideas about which subjects to broach, but having just seen this story, I know now what I want to say.

At a campaign stop in Columbia, Missouri, Joe Biden said: “I hear all this talk about how the Republicans are going to work in dealing with parents who have both the joy … and the difficulty of raising a child who has a developmental disability, who were born with a birth defect. Well, guess what, folks? If you care about it, why don’t you support stem cell research?”

This was clearly aimed at Sarah Palin, because John McCain supports stem cell research. I don’t agree with him, and neither does Sarah, but he does. But it exposes Biden’s attempt to appeal to emotion without any regard for logic or reason. Biden assumes that to care about children with birth defects, it is necessary to choose doing something about them as the ultimate moral action, trumping all others.

Biden is saying that if you really care about birth defects, you cannot believe that the human life of the embryo is sacred. Only people who believe in the disposability of embryonic life can call themselves caring.

Biden also ignores the fact that stem cell research will do nothing for those parents who already have a child born with a birth defect. It will not ease their difficulty one bit. So why would someone who is going to “work in dealing with parents who have both the joy … and the difficulty of raising a child” with birth defects have to support stem cell research? Biden is only playing on the ignorance of his audience.

And Sarah Palin does not opposed stem cell research. She only opposes embryonic research. There is a lot of research that is ongoing using the stem cells of adults. After all, we all produce stem cells. Why doesn’t Biden mention that?

Is this the best attack he can make – to combine logical fallacies and factual errors? Is this what Sarah Palin is up against?

I thought Joe Biden might put some substance to Obama’s empty platitudes. I thought we might see something more than smoke and mirrors- something more than unsupportable policies built on the sandy foundation of emotional appeal and the politics of envy. Is it really any surprise that the Republican ticket is moving ahead in the polls?

Updated Update

Results have come back from the CT scan of my father’s lungs. One of the spots that appeared the first time has disappeared and the other has shrunk considerably, so there is a positive diagnosis that it is not cancer. It would appear to have been a small infection of some kind. The biopsy has been cancelled.

We will still be going back to Houston next week to set up his chemo plan for the colon.

Thank you for your prayers.

One Man and Two Women

The creation of Franken-byros continues.

Ten human embryos each containing the DNA from one man and two women have been created in a project that within three years could lead to the first genetically altered babies being born in Britain.

These embryonic humans were killed after just five days.

The point of the exercise was to replace cell mitochondria, thus removing the potential for certain diseases. This has already been done in mice, gestating them to birth and then using them to reproduce.

Scientists involved and other proponents say this is not creating designer babies, because the mitochondria don’t affect the development of appearance or personality. However, it is clearly obvious that this is the next step. Once the mitochondria can be interchanged and the baby grown to term, swapping out genes will be easy to introduce without causing to much of a fuss. It wouldn’t be a fuss, because it would already be legal.

Lord Walton of Detchant has proposed an amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill currently working irs way through Parliament. It would allow this treatment to be used with the approval of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. No further legislation would be required.

Left to Die

If someone’s going to go an kill a baby in the womb, they ought to at least do it properly. The NHS apparently isn’t do such a good job.

That doesn’t mean these babies born alive are allowed to continue living.  They are just left to die. Sounds particularly barbaric, doesn’t it?

It’s Not All Bad

They say if you can’t say anything nice, you shouldn’t say anything at all. This is clearly a policy to which I rarely adhere, as my wife if often keen to point out. About no topic is this more true than the National Health Service.

As I recently noted in a comment to another post, I have had good orthopedic (or orthopaedic, depending on where you are reading this) care. I know that when it comes to this specialty (or speciality, again depending on where you are) I am winner in the postcode lottery, but there you go. To that I would have to add emergency care.

This afternoon I tripped in the kitchen and didn’t have the sleeve of my prosthesis pulled up. As I fell forward, I left it behind. All 14 stone came down on my stump. (Yes, 14 stone – I ate, as they say in this country, all the pies.) I almost passed out from the pain.

My wife called an ambulance. They arrived very promptly and provided very good care in getting me to hospital. I don’t think this was affected by me telling them that not only had I formerly been an ambulance driver (as a volunteer during my college days) , but also a lawyer.

Once in the A&E (as they call the ER here), they put some ice on it to keep the swelling down and gave me some pain medicine. After time for both to work, I was wheeled into X-ray and within minutes I was looking at the pictures on a computer screen with the advantage of digital zoom. There appears to be no fracture.

I was home within two hours of the incident. Even though the bone appears to be intact, I can’t take any weight or even pressure on it. Hopefully I will be able to walk by Monday.

Cloning Without Consent

In all their excitement to legalise cloning, the Government seem to have overlooked one small thing. People may not want to be cloned. Never mind.

Ministers want to amend their Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill to remove the need for express consent before cloning tissue.

This will first apply to tissue that has been donated for research. It is then a small step to applying it to any tissue. Since the Government wants DNA samples of the entire population so that everyone is a suspect in every crime, there will be no reason why they can’t use it for cloning. Eventually, they will be able to search through the population and find whatever characteristics they want to recreate. Somebody could have a real doppelganger and never know it.

Babies Playing the Postcode Lottery

The debate in Parliament over the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill has provided the opportunity to members to present amendment to either liberalise or further restrict abortions. There is a big push amongst some MPs and in certain outlets of the MSM to reduce the number of gestational weeks during which an abortion can be procured for social reasons. It is currently at 24 weeks, having been reduced from 28 week in 1990.

But that’s all over the news. You don’t need me to tell you something you can read anywhere. What I didn’t know is that there are only 180 neo-natal units in this country. That’s roughly one for every 333,000 people.  As you would expect, they are not evenly distributed. It’s another example of the NHS postcode lottery.

If you get yourself to University College Hospital in London, your baby has one of the best chances of survival in the country. In the years just after the legislation was amended to it’s current state, 1991-95 the rate of survival for babies born at 23 weeks was 44%. It has risen since then. At 24 weeks, over the same periods, survival rose from 50% to 81%.

Live where there is no unit and the outlook isn’t so good.  Sometimes even the right postcode doesn’t help. As reported in the Daily Telegraph, “according to a National Audit Office report each unit had to close its doors an average of 52 times during 2006-07.” Even if those closures were for only one day at a time, that’s still an average of once a week. Chances are that at least in some cases, the closures were for longer.

Given these problems with the health service, it is surprising that the survival rate for neo-nates is as high as it is. It is not surprising that the rates are higher in other countries.

No End to Mixed Sex Wards

It is no surprise that if you put women and men together in the same hospital ward, there might be some cases of assault. And of course there’s the whole embarrassment factor when it comes to certain bedside medical procedures or discussions. But if you are in the US, you are wondering why anyone would be talking about same sex wards. In fact, you may even be wondering what a ward is. (It’s like having a shared room, only with 5-7 other people.)

The Labour government promised it was going to eliminate mixed-sex wards in the National Health Service. It has now abadoned that promise.  Health minister Lord Darzi has now admitted it is “an aspiration that cannot be met”. That’s the reality of socialised medicine.

All the Democrats running for president are promoting socialised medicine in one form or another. I just wanted you to know what you have to look forward to.

Dying for Socialised Medicine

A lot of Brits I talk to can’t understand why Americans don’t flock to Hillary Clinton because of her favourable views about socialised medicine. After all, there’s nothing Brits are more proud of than the NHS.

Sure Britain has some of the worst survival rates for cancer in the Western world, but no one has to worry about paying for it. But as they say, you get what you pay for.

Socialised medicine in a country divided up into Primary Care Trusts (PCT) equals the post code lottery. In other words, each trust decides how it’s going to divide up it’s little slice of the health care funding pie. Each local board of bureaucrats prioritises which patients deserve to live and which ones don’t. In a rationed system, a few people get paid a lot of money to play Lifeboat every day.

When it comes to cancer, I’ve drawn one of the short straws. To preserve my anonymity, I won’t say exactly how much is spent per cancer patient per year here. I will tell you that the top spending PCT spends three times as much as the lowest. I could say that my PCT spends less that £10,000 per patient per year, but out of 159 PCTs, only 39 spend more. No, my PCT is comfortably in four figures and comfortably in the bottom 10%.

I suppose I can’t afford to stop eating my fruit and veg and grains. You can’t afford to elect Hillary.