Monday, May 27, 2024
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NHS workers get private healthcare – and WE pay


IN AN increasingly rare feat of proper journalism, the Telegraph has revealed a scandal that ought to be on the front page of every newspaper and in the headlines on TV news channels. At the weekend Edward Malnick, the Sunday Political Editor, provided a corker, though unfortunately not on the front page. He reported that NHS workers are receiving private health care funded by the taxpayer. 

The data was obtained by Baker Kell Cumming, a political intelligence firm, which revealed overall spending of more than £37million on private occupational health services whose task is to look after NHS employees’ physical and mental health. NHS trusts are using taxpayers’ money to fund medical tests and treatment for staff, while patients languish on record waiting lists.

Hospitals and ambulance trusts are paying for their employees to have private care, ranging from MRI scans to physiotherapy and psychiatric care, some of it in Harley Street. A firm providing private physiotherapy to hospital staff in Hertfordshire said it had won the business because the trust wanted employees to get treatment ‘much more quickly’ than the 14-week wait facing NHS patients. Health Service employees receive an appointment within an average of 2-6 days. Delays for NHS patients for MRI scans range from six weeks to more than three months. In another instance a hospital spent thousands of pounds on private insurance for staff. A number of cases are revealed in the Telegraph news article, but here is just a small selection:

West Midlands Ambulance Service spent £1.4million.

East Midlands Ambulance Service £81,000.

A mental health trust paid more than £2million.

Having encouraged the ‘Covid only’ NHS to neglect patients through his ridiculous and unnecessary lockdowns last year, Boris Johnson announced an additional £36billion in funding for the health service. Not only was this not an act of generosity on his part, since he dipped into ordinary people’s pockets for a National Insurance increase, but it was a cosmetic gesture directed to those gullible members of the public who support the deification of the NHS, as witnessed in the pathetic and self-righteous ritual of the weekly clapathon. No attempt has been made by Johnson’s administration, or any previous government, to reform the NHS, which is a bloated bureaucracy replete with useless and obstructive managers on high salaries, languishing in non-jobs such as overseeing and developing ‘diversity policies’.

What this latest revelation shows is not only that the NHS is inefficient and has been neglecting patients, many with serious and life-threatening conditions, but that it has been concealing a culture of corruption. The fact that that NHS trusts do not consider NHS services good enough for its own employees also shows that it is not good enough for the rest of us. But to echo Orwell’s satirical phrase, ‘some animals are more equal than others’. So when you hear devout believers claiming that ‘the NHS is the envy of the world’ you have even more reason to see that they are wilfully blind and have been hoodwinked into a cult. To such people there is no limit to the billions that should be ploughed into this black hole. Incidentally I can anticipate the retort that many employers provide private health insurance for their employees. So they do. But not at the expense of the taxpayers.

There should be widespread anger and disgust at this corruption, and it should be widely exposed for what it is. But I doubt this will happen. Can you imagine Sajid Javid, our Health Minister, saying – and meaning it – that now the necessary reforms will be undertaken? Perhaps too many are becoming inured to our betters being two-faced. It is not that long ago that some of our political lords and masters sneered and laughed behind our backs as they partied away, showing that they didn’t themselves believe a word of their own propaganda about the need for the social isolation they imposed upon the rest of us. And no doubt they are rich enough themselves to afford private healthcare.

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Frank Palmer
Frank Palmer
Dr Frank Palmer is a philosopher and author. He was taught by Roger Scruton who was his PhD supervisor and during the 1980s was part of a thinktank of academics Roger formed to fight damaging trends in education. Frank’s last book was Literature and Moral Understanding (Oxford University Press).

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