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Private Eye

January 5, 2018

Private Eye Medicine Balls 1461 December 22, 2017
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 7:41 pm

The End of the Nye

Professor Allyson Pollock, a senior consultant in public health medicine, gets far less public recognition than she deserves, because she has a track record of being right and spotting disasters long before anyone else has woken up. She was a fierce critic of the internal market introduced into the NHS by the Conservatives in 1991, arguing rightly that it would be wasteful and inequitable, and had no evidence base. In 1995, she pointed out the dangers of the NHS abandoning long term care of the elderly and farming it out to means-tested social care that transferred the costs of care, and the fear of paying for it, from society to the individual (precisely what Bevan was trying to reverse when he established the NHS 70 years ago) 

In 1997, Pollock was one of the first to highlight the lack of transparency, inadequate risk sharing and unaffordable long term costs of Private Finance Initiative projects, which are now crippling many hospitals. And she immediately saw through Andrew Lansley’s disastrous Health and Social Care Bill, campaigning vigorously for an NHS Reinstatement Bill that would restore the duty of the Health Secretary to provide universal care, rather than

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December 22, 2017

Private Eye Medicine Balls 1460 December 15, 2017
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 7:30 pm

Something has to give (and it’s not the Treasury)


As MD predicted (Eye last), the NHS England board responded bullishly to being given 40% of what every expert authority (apart from the Treasury) deemed necessary to keep the NHS upright for another year. Whilst Philip Hammond and Jeremy Hunt insist the extra money be used to get waiting times back on target, NHS England declared bluntly that ‘NHS Constitution waiting time standards will not be fully funded and met next year’.  NHS England also said that new advisory National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines would only be implemented ‘if in future they are accompanied by a clear and agreed affordability and workforce assessment at the time they are drawn up’. So even if NICE says a new treatment is effective and good value for the NHS, it may only be provided in your area if the funding and staff are available. Pretty much what happens now.


The NHS probably could do more to reduce waste and variations in the quality of care, but it was the Conservative’s lethal Health and Social Care Act 2012 that has squandered billions on unnecessary reform, compulsory tender and transaction costs, substandard outsourcing and

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Private Eye Medicine Balls 1459 December 1, 2017
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 7:28 pm

Hammond’s Trap


Chancellor Philip Hammond had to give the NHS some extra funding to fulfil the government’s pledge of a year on year real terms increase in health funding per head of the population. Predictably, he promised just 40% of what just about every expert authority calculated was necessary for the service to remain upright. He then compounded the pressure by demanding that the extra £1.6 billion for next year must resurrect the long-lapsed targets for waiting for non-urgent operations (18 weeks) and in emergency departments (4 hours). He knows the NHS hasn’t got a hope in hell of doing this, so the strategy must simply be to set up NHS England CEO Simon Stevens as the fall guy for failure.


Stevens incurred the wrath of Hammond and Theresa May by firing a very public pre-budget broadside at a conference in November when he warned that the NHS waiting list was heading for 5 million by 2021, that the government may be forced to “publicly, legally abolish patients’ national waiting times guarantees” and that it would become “increasingly hard to expand mental health services or improve cancer care.” By ordering Stevens to get waiting times back on track

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December 21, 2017

Private Eye Medicine Balls 1458 November 17, 2017
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 11:22 am

The Private Cancer Lottery Part 2


If you have private health insurance and need treatment, should you accept a cash bung to use the NHS? Most insurers offer this, typically £7,500 in the case of a life-threatening cancer. This makes sense in cases where the NHS has access to treatment or expertise that would result in a better outcome, but the motive of the insurers is simply to save money. A standard course of radiotherapy might cost £15,000, with similar fees for surgery, and the new chemotherapy drugs average £75,000 a year . So insurers can save millions by bribing desperately ill patients to switch to state funded care.


Private insurance varies enormously in cost, depending on your age and the level of cover you want to pay for. If you’ve had it for many years, you will likely have paid far more than and lump sum being offered. If you’re in a company scheme, you might be tempted take the cash. But generally, private patients now go to the back of the NHS queue when they switch sides. The days when a consultant you’ve initially seen privately could bump you up the NHS waiting list are largely

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Private Eye Medicine Balls 1457 November 3, 2017
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 11:13 am

The Private Lottery

MD recently met a group of NHS oncologists, most of whom did private work and most of whom had private health insurance. The private work allowed them to supplement their NHS income and practice the standard of medicine they’d want for their friends and family (longer consultations, quicker access to treatment). And their private health insurance allowed them to get the care they’d want for themselves and their family. As one put it; ‘NHS waits are increasing and for some cancers, that dramatically reduces the effectiveness of treatment and your likely survival.’


Private health insurance, and self-pay for private care, is on the increase for those who can afford it, or whose employers wish to pay. With nearly 4 million people on the NHS waiting list after 7 years of flat-line funding, private insurers and providers are eyeing a big opportunity that will only get bigger with any drop in national income and loss of EU health workers accompanying Brexit. The Conservatives lifted the cap on the amount of private work NHS hospitals can do, to allow them to reinvest profits in NHS services. But as one Oxford consultant put it; ‘The local private services offer

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