Category Archives: NHS

apply National Insurance Contributions to pensioners’ earnings, think tank reports

A new generational contract is needed to tackle the big challenges Britain faces for young and old, covering a better funded NHS and care system, a radically reformed housing market, and a new citizen’s inheritance to boost the prospects of younger generations. This is according to the final report of the Intergenerational Commission published today (Tuesday).

Over the last two years and via 22 reports, the Intergenerational Commission – chaired by Lord Willetts and including TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady and CBI Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn – has investigated the stresses and strains on Britain’s contract between generations, and what can be done to renew it.

The generational contract reflects the fact that we judge the success of a society by how it treats its old, and believe strongly that each generation should have a better life than the one before.

However, the Commission warns that the public are increasingly questioning whether Britain is offering young people the prospects previous generations have enjoyed. This is not just confined to younger generations either, with healthcare now the most pressing area of worry for British adults.

The Commission finds that much of this pessimism is borne out by the evidence it has uncovered:

Income and wealth progress for young adults has stalled

New analysis shows that the disposable incomes of millennials at age 30 are no higher than the generation before them (generation X) at that age – despite the economy growing by 14 per cent over the last 15 years. In contrast, the incomes of baby boomers at age 30 were more than one third higher than the generation before them.
Millennials are half as likely as the baby boomers were to own their own home by 30, and are four times as likely to rent in the private sector.
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Our comment: That ‘Millenials’ are less well off than previous generations is understood, and the need for appropriate levels of funding for the NHS, though we believe that the cost should be shared by all. Older people have already lost the Age Related Tax Allowance.

NHS hospitals in England made £174m from car park charges in 2016/17, and NIL in Scotland or Wales

Car Parking Charges

NHS hospitals made a record £174m from charging patients, visitors and staff to park in 2016/17, up 6% on the previous year.

Data from 111 hospital trusts across England shows that as many as two-thirds are making more than £1m a year. More than half of trusts now charge disabled people to park.

Some trusts defended the charges, saying they were essential to pay for patient care. But opposition parties and patient support groups were critical, with one group saying they were “cynical” but blaming the state of NHS finances rather than the trusts themselves.

The Liberal Democrats condemned the charges as a “tax on sickness” while Labour said it was committed to ending them.

Guardian Today: the headlines, the analysis, the debate – sent direct to you
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The government condemned “complex and unfair” parking charges and called for reform, but a Department of Health spokesman said they were a matter for local NHS organisations rather than central regulation.

Our comment: A founding principal of the foundation of the NHS was created out of the ideal that good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth. We regard the way hospitals are charging for hospital parking is incompatible with that principal.

Parking remains largely free at hospitals in Scotland and Wales.

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Some constructive alternatives for funding care of the elderly

There are a lot of comfortably off pensioners. And lots of poor ones. And there are a lot better ways of finding money for elderly care than Theresa May’s manifesto commitment to whipping the houses off people who need care at home.

Under the Conservative’s plan, people needing either domiciliary (aka at-home) or residential care will have to pay for everything until the value of their assets, including their home, is down to £100,000. The Tories promise that no one will be forced to sell their home in their lifetime to pay for care, with the cost instead deferred and taken from their estate after death.
Care of the Elderly Costs
The plan is superficially seductive. The older generation have benefitted from spectacular – and largely unearned – increases in the value of their property. Why should younger working people, through income tax, pay for the galloping costs of elderly care when they can’t even dream of affording to buy a home themselves? Doesn’t it make more sense to instead take the money out of the congealed wealth sitting in property? And, indeed, there can be no justification for the state protecting the inheritances of the well off by taxing hard-pressed working people.

But there are two major drawbacks. Firstly, there is the risk that the elderly will delay seeking support at home because they won’t want to enter into a domiciliary care plan involving a charge on their property. They won’t get early treatment and will fall on the NHS.

The second drawback is more serious. No one chooses Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s – they choose you. Health inevitably deteriorates in old age, but the conditions that will result in intensive care costs, whether domiciliary or residential, are largely random. A quarter of the over-85s are likely to develop dementia and a third will need constant care. But that leaves large numbers not in need of intensive care. Indeed, only one in eight over-85s are in care homes.

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We don’t for a moment think that someone in their 50s with breast cancer should have a lien put upon their home to pay for their care. We share the risk by paying through our taxes for the NHS and community care services. Why, then, should we think that a random third of the over-85s should have charges added to their homes but the other two-thirds not?

But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the increasing cost of care for the elderly needs to be found somewhere, and it would be unfair for the young to shoulder all the burden.

One of the oddities of the tax system is that we stop paying 12% national insurance on our earnings once we reach state pension age. The idea is that NI is basically a savings system that pays for our pensions, so once we’re in receipt of a pension we stop paying in. But NI, when first set up, was a system of insurance against illness and unemployment. If NI is supposed to help fund the NHS and care services, there is no reason why pensioners – the better off at least – shouldn’t be paying it, albeit at a reduced rate.
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overfull A&E departments in NHS Hospitals

HospitalA&EOverflow2
Nurses at NHS hospitals are treating patients in corridors because of severe overcrowding in A&E departments.

Footage taken by the BBC shows patients waiting more than four hours to be seen at Royal Blackburn Hospital, where at one point last week 33 beds were available for 95 seriously ill people.

Nurse Danielle Turner told the broadcaster: “We actually have corridor nurses now as well, which shows times are very desperate”.

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Surgeons furious at NHS ‘cost-cutting’ plans to ration hip and knee replacements

Surgeons have slammed NHS plans to ration hip and knee replacements.

Three areas in the West Midlands have proposed slashing the number of patients who qualify for hip replacements by 12% and introducing a 19% cut over who is eligible for knee replacements.

Board papers of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) suggested an “opportunity to reduce expenditure on hip and knee replacement surgery” by £2million a year.

This would include only treating “severe to the upper end of moderate” cases.

And people who are obese with a body mass index of 35 or over needing to lose 10% of their weight unless their problems were very severe.

Patients in pain would now need to have such severe levels of pain that they cannot sleep or carry out daily tasks.

Documents said a “patient’s pain and disability should be sufficiently severe that it interferes with the patient’s daily life and/or ability to sleep”, according to the Health Service Journal.
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Our comment: A pity this country is too poor to afford a proper health service.

Controversial Scheme to vet hospital referrals draws MPs ire

There is concern that patients in County Durham have not been notified that GPs must now ask a private company to decide on referrals to specialists.
North Durham Clinical Commissioning Group has awarded a contract to About Health, which will advise on the best way to manage a range of conditions.
A local MP said it was “disgraceful” the system had been put in place without a public consultation.
Health bosses said the move would save money, and GPs had been consulted.
Under the contract, doctors across north Durham will write to About Health for advice on whether a patient should be sent to a specialist or whether they should try other treatments.

Labour MP Roberta Blackman-Woods has called for the contract to be cancelled

The conditions include cardiology, gynaecology, dermatology, or gastroenterology, but will not relate to suspected cancer or other urgent cases.
Durham Labour MP Roberta Blackman-Woods has said that taking the GPs’ right to refer away is wrong and wants the contract immediately scrapped.
She said: “It is absolutely disgraceful that they have gone ahead with this with no public consultation.
“I am going to demand that the put a halt on this … because I honestly believe it could compromise patient safety.”
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112 NHS Trusts are STILL hiking hospital car park fees despite Health Secretary’s pledge to clamp down on the rip-off charges

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt last year vowed crackdown on charges for visitors and patients, but 63 per cent have since raised their fees with one hiking prices by 960 per cent.

Hospital Car Parking chages

Last night campaigners and MPs called for legislation to curb or even wipe out the charges.
Wye Valley NHS Trust (pictured, Hereford County Hospital which is part of the Trust) was one of the worst offenders after raising its average hourly rate from 33p to £3.50

One of the worst offenders was Wye Valley NHS Trust, which raised its average hourly rate from 33p to £3.50 – a 960 per cent increase. Whittington Hospital NHS Trust in London also angered patients, doubling its average hourly charge from £1.50 to £3.

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Car Parking Charge increases

40 per cent of people think public transport access to hospitals is not convenient

LABOUR has attacked a “postcode lottery” in bus services after new figures revealed just 60 per cent of people think public transport access to hospitals is convenient.

Levels of satisfaction fall to 56 per cent for those aged over 60 and 46 per cent for people living in rural communities, according to figures from Transport Scotland.

The party has called on the SNP to back proposed legislation aimed at strengthening regulation in the bus industry.

Labour MSP Iain Gray’s Bus Regulation (Scotland) Bill would allow local authorities to bundle together profitable and loss-making routes into one franchise that operators could bid for and give authorities a greater say over details such as frequency and fares.

Mary Fee, the party’s spokeswoman for infrastructure, investment and cities, said many people would face difficulty visiting family members in hospital over the festive period.

She said: “Spending any time in hospital can be lonely but during the Christmas and New Year holidays it’s even more important that patients have their family visit as often as possible.
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Pensioners charged £20 each way for ambulance for hospital visit

ANGRY pensioners have hit out at what they have branded an “outrageous” decision to make patients pay transport costs for medical care.

Sisters Doreen McColl and Wilhelmina Llewellyn, both widows, forked out £40 to get to and from an appointment after the launch of a new ambulance vetting system for patients.

From this week, people are being quizzed to see if they are eligible to use an ambulance for free, or if they will have to pay for their own transport.

Health bosses have admitted that some people who previously enjoyed free transport to hospital will now be left out of pocket.

But Mrs McColl, 74, and her sister Mrs Llewellyn, 69, both of Trent Avenue, Hebburn, have blasted the new medical transport charges, warning that some hard-up pensioners will struggle to afford costly taxi rides to hospital and clinics.
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ELDERLY patients in Scottish Islands are being asked to pay £80 for transport to hospital appointments

ELDERLY patients are being asked to pay two-thirds of a week’s state pension for transport to hospital appointments – leaving them just £33.75 a week to live on.

People living in Kintyre are asked for £80 if they need to go to Glasgow and £60 to travel to Lorn and Islands Hospital in Oban, although the state pension is only £113.75.

The charges are being applied when a patient has been assessed, via a telephone booking system as not qualifying for NHS transport.

With no public transport available to take people to the hospitals and back the same day, patients with no other means of travel are told to use Red Cross transport.

Although all but £10 of the fee can be claimed back a month later, patients have to pay the Red Cross driver on the day.

The NHS Highland arrangement has been labelled “bureaucracy gone mad”, and a campaign has begun to end the situation which is denying pensioners money for food and bills.


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