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‘Mad’ Patricia Hewitt strikes again

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Warning: This post was published more than 12 years ago.

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Patricia HewittMs Hewitt’s spell of virtual insanity continues, with her now announcing that she wants to make those who spread MRSA criminals:

Private cleaning contractors, managers and even visitors could face criminal liability for spreading the hospital superbug MRSA in the NHS.

Presumably, these people would then be forced to wear the uniforms proposed by her Crazy Cabinet colleague, Hazel Blears.

But, seriously, what does Ms Hewitt hope to acheive by making spreading MRSA a crime? To do so would mean that doctors would have to take every possible step to avoid litigation – is she seriously suggesting that all doctors should have a full surgical scrub before seeing every patient? That would more than triple the length of the average consultation, so I hope she’s got some money squirrelled away for lots of extra doctors. And what about the emergency situation? Are we all to completely scrub up before performing emergency procedures? A few more deaths might well be occuring if that’s expected.

MRSA will only be brought under control with sensible steps to educate medical staff and the public about prevention, and the necessary funding to keep hygeine standards up. If the funding had been available to put alcohol gel next to every bed five or six years ago – instead of only just getting round to it – then MRSA wouldn’t be such a big a problem now. Threatening people with litigation is simply absurd, and deeply unhelpful. And if she’s going to start slapping fines on cleaning companies, standards are unlikely to improve much but costs will sky-rocket. So I hope there’s lots of money available for the government to pay its own fines, too.

Update: Typo corrected

This 588th post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics.






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Comments and responses

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Trackback received at 15:28 on 24th September 2006.

This post has been referenced by another on this site:
sjhoward.co.uk » Blair: Talk about the future, not about the future


Comment from carol


by carol

Comment posted at 21:25 on 29th September 2006.

We are being advised the the NHS is in debt and as a GP recp – I feel the number of people coming into the UK are abusing the system with help from our Government- those not working , not paying tax or NI but being told or Health service is free, it isn’t, money is taken from my wages every week to pay taxes and NI.

We are told of reciprical health agreements between UK and Europe – not so – my mother 84 years – went to Amsterdam, had a fall – no ambulance called – took taxi to Hospital, had treatment – proffered her E111 and travel ins – not needed – until a month after her return we got a bill for £170 for treatment, yet I consistently see young girls 3-4 months pregnant arrive in UK – register – have all the ante-natal care – delivery – and go back home – no charge – we also have to arrange translators as they have no English,
why, because they have to pay for health care back home.

It is about time that Patricia Hewtitt listen to the people on the ground , instead of Government Think Tanks

When peopleare truly victims of war and we have had many in this country, then thet are welcome to all they need – no question – any treatments, any benefits, until they were on their feet, but we have those who come here knowing, without fail we will not say no, because we are to polite and too scared of “human rights” .We will be bankrupt before this Government gets a backbone, our NHS will be defunct.

We have elderlies scared to go to hospital because they feel they will be left to die – and yet they were the ones who have bolstered the NHS all their working lives – for what- seeing others from outside – with no input – getting all they need from the system- come on Patricia – come down to the frontline – step out of your ivory tower.

Today at work we were present with posters and leaflets advising GP how to approach their Muslim pt’s during Ramadan – what about Sikhs, Hindus , Cof E, RC and all other Faiths who do not shout and demand.

The NHS is being priced out of the market and those on the frontline can see it – but are to afraid to speak out in case they are labelled racist, we are not – we just want everyone to have monetary input. When we add to our European partners in 12 weeks – we will be even harder hit, and most if not all GP’s are over subscribed with pt’s – and we all know – except – obviously those in Government – “you cannot get a quart into a pint pot” which is what is happening.


Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)


by sjhoward

Comment posted at 01:11 on 1st October 2006.

Carol – thank you for your comment. I am sorry to hear about your mother, and I hope that she is feeling better.

I agree that Pat Hewitt doesn’t seem to listen to the people ‘on the ground’ of the NHS so to speak, but I’m intrigued as to what your suggestions would be for the improvement of the NHS. The problems are shocking, but all too familiar. The solutions are trickier. From your point of view as a GP recp (receptionist?), how do you think the NHS should be improved?


Comment from carol


by carol

Comment posted at 18:01 on 1st October 2006.

Hi thanks for your reply – mum’s fine now, and yes recp is receptionist –

As for your question about what could be done, well for starters perhaps the Government should stop bleating on about our free NHS, and advise people coming here they should prepare to pay a fee until they have so many credits towards health care.

How many people from abroad – from non EU countries are advised they would have to work for one year and prove they have worked for one year before claiming benefits. None, yet that is advised by the NHS.

It should be made clear that anyone entering this country should be able to support themselves, including healthcare, until the correct number of NI payments are made, and then and only then can they register with a GP.

You have to pay for dental care, why not GP care. Other countries Australia, South Africa etc insist on you supporting yourself – or you are not accepted, yet people from these countries assume it’s ok to make use of something they’ve not paid for “because it’s free”. once again good old Government rhetoric.

It isn’t free to those of us who pay Tax and NI weekly, but it seems to be free for those who waltz in here from where-ever.

Perhaps when young girls coming from abroad at several weeks pregnant – had to give a home address in their counry of origin, which could and should be checked, even EU countries, when they returned home a bill could be sent to them or their Government for payment.

Perhaps people applying to come here from countries with Aids epademic should all have to give a blood test, to prove they are not entering this countr with Aids, as most of the incoming who are discovered to have Aids once they are here, deny they knew they had it .

Once diagnosed , we cannot send them back, as human rights say they will die with out care. I suspect some of them knew before they came , and knew that we would not return them, and it is very expensive treatment.

This then takes money away from our own vunerable people – prem babies no money for incubators, elder people having to sell their homes to pay for nursing home care.

Elder people scared to go into hospital, because there are not enough nurses, to care for them, because there is not enough cash to fund nursing care.

This I hope, would eventually filter through that Great Britain isn’t an easy touch, if only, and perhaps then we would have enough in the kitty to help our own.

Back in 1974 when I joined the NHS, people from abroad who required xrays for instant,(except when they had arrived through A & E) had to go to their embassy and get a number which when treatment had been carried out – the embassy would be presented with a bill quoting the number and pay the NHS. This was phased out no reason given.

If we have such a recipricol agreement with the EU countries, why do we as a nation – when travelling abroad have to carry an E111 AND travel insurance, and still pay, and get it back from our Insurers or Government, yet people who come into Great Britain, from anywhere do not have and have never heard of E111 and never get travel insurance.

I am constantly being told it’s not my job to police the abuse of the NHS from abroad, but I try in my small way, by asking if the person has an NI number and is and paying tax – if they say yes, I request to see a wage slip, also proof they are living where they say they are with a bill in their name if there is nothing forth coming I will not register them, but some other surgeries will.

It also galls me that pensioners still have to pay for optical and dental care, yet asylum seekers and refugees get it for free, even when they are on benefit – because lets face it a pension is a benefit (apparently) even though the person getting it has probably paid all their working life into NI and Tax.

Sorry about this but I’m on a roll. I also thought that if a refugee came here to escape from danger, once it was safe to return to their country they should do so, so can someone explain to me, why families return to Somalia, Kosova etc for a holiday with children,but not to live, surely if it’s safe for a holiday it’s safe to return, but then they would’nt have free health care, housing and generous benefits etc.

Oh by the way – when these families want travel vacs, they are astounded that they have to pay “I’m on benefite, it should be free”. Travel vacs are given as courtosy from the surgery, not a right.


Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)


by sjhoward

Comment posted at 15:53 on 14th October 2006.

Thanks, carol, and I’m sorry it’s taken a while to respond to this. I’m normally much quicker!

I agree wholeheartedly that the government should stop talking about a ‘free NHS’, and be more forthcoming about how it is funded. I think this would help raise public awareness surrounding the reasons for decisions on new drugs, for example, and their availablity on the NHS. If you could turn the question around, and say ‘Would you be willing to pay £x more in taxes for drug y to be available on the NHS?’, then that would open up a more realistic debate.

You say people from abroad should have to pay a set amount into the NHS before getting treatment. That’s an interesting idea, but one that I can’t see working. For example, if you have somebody who comes into the country and is quite healthy, but after being here 12 months contracts some contageous disease, are you going to merely let them infect others? What if they have a heart attack in the street – are they to be left to die? Perhaps certain conditions would be excluded from your ban, but then where do you draw the line? And in many cases, won’t the problems simply get worse over time, meaning that by the time the people get treatment, it will cost more to provide?

And what about children? They make no net contribution, why should they get treatment? And should the elderly only get treatment in line with what they’ve paid over their lifetime, then be turfed out onto the street?

Health screening for immigrants might be helpful, though, I can see that point of view (though I’m not sure I agree with it). It’s also something adopted by many other countries around the world, though I’m not terribly familiar on how it works out there.

As for sending bills back to countries of origin, it’s an interesting concept, but how many would pay up? I have to say I wasn’t aware of the example you cited for X-Rays, but perhaps the administration cost of such a system was greater than the cost being borne by the NHS alone.

I see your point about pensioners having to pay for optical and dental care, but if they didn’t, that would be more money out of the central budget. It does seem incongruous that others don’t have to pay when pensioners do, however.

There are many, many problems with the way the NHS is funded. But I can’t think of a better way of ensuring that the whole country receives quality healthcare. And that aim is something of which we should be proud.


Comment from carol


by carol

Comment posted at 17:26 on 26th October 2006.

Hi – I can see your point of view on children and OAP’s – but in answer to your question, all children are automatically seen without charge no-one with an iota of compassion or commonsense would see a child go without, but in regards to someone collapsing whilst only having been here a short time – the policy is that anyone going to A&E would not have to pay, the payment only starts when they reach the ward, this happens rarely as many of them are elderly, with no insurance.

When we travel abroad, be it EU or other countries we have to take out insurance – or we pay, not once have I heard of people coming from abroad being advised by their country to take insurance before travelling. They turn up, say the magic word’s “it’s free” and expect to get GP registration. The surprise and annoyance when we say they have to pay – as visitors – and they can claim from their insurance when they return home – “but we don’t have insurance” as if it’s this countries fault. Also people with families here -say “my brother/sister etc have paid NI and tax – so I can claim treatment ” are very surprised when we explain those payments cover the person only , not extended families.

I also feel if the cost of prescribed drugs or items were printed on prescriptions, people could see how expensive or cheap each item was and perhaps be prepared to pay more, or be more careful when using the NHS – or am I living in cloud cuckoo land.

When I took out travel insurance and my EU cover recently for travel Southern Ireland, I had to declare any medical problems – and was informed of the ones I couldn’t claim for, thank god nothng likely to kick of in the week I am away.

To your point about someone being here 12 months, NHS directive actually say people from non Eu countries are suppose to work for one year before claiming, but of course if someone came in and was struck down by a contagious disease, be it 12 hours or 12 months , commonsense would say, give thm health care, but the norm is they are here they should pay. How would you feel if someone waltz into your surgery, registered, spoke no English, you get an interpreter at £60.00 per hour, and she want’s extensive plastic surgery, not for a really bad defect, just the usually breast enlargement , tummy tuck etc., taking the mickey don’t you think. It happened, even the interpreter was spitting feathers.

As for your point about the elderly, don’t we read about people who have lived and worked here all their lives, begging to die because of the lack of humane nursing and lack of dignity, starving to death on the wards because they can’t feed themselves, lying in their own faeces, and urine soaked sheets. Something is wrong here, money can be found for the most obscure things , but not for medication to keep the ravages of Altzimers at bay for a little longer, cancer drugs, not until it’s too late, and yes ok let pensioners pay foe dentistry and glasses, but so should everyone else, even those on benefits, because , lets face it our pension is a benefit, even though a lot of us paid for it all our working lives.

Why not have health screening – if you want to go and live abroad, you can be very sure you would have to have a medical and prove that you can pay for your healthcare whilst you are there, check with the Australian Embassy and see what their criteria is for people emigrating, belive me they are tough, I have family living in Oz and they think we are mad not doing more to check people for ongoing health problems.

Our AIDS bill for example is enormous, and a high percentage are people coming here, unchecked, and suddenly having full blown AIDS, but “I didn’t have Aids before I came here” what about HIV?, it’s non-sensical. What about TB – we had almost irradicated it from this country, to such an effect that our local TB unit was shutdown, turned into a Hospice, now our TB levels are higher than they’ve been for donkeys years.

I am, believe it or not, proud of my NHS,( I wouldn’t have worked for it since 1974 if I wasn’t) just despairing of the abuse being perpetrated by people wanting something for nothing and our Government allowng it to happen. OOps there I go again Ranting Lil, sorry for the length of my speil


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