Category Archives: NHS

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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Some in northern counties envy the Scottish benefits – but would they last?

Men from the Ministry/Scots Referendum
As we near the fateful day, it perhaps isn’t surprising that there are people south of the border who are envious of the benefits which people in Scotland enjoy free:

  • Prescription charges
  • Elderly Care
  • University Tuition Fees
  • Bus Passes from age 60
  • Bedroom Tax
  • Hospital parking charges
  • Bridge Toll Fees

Listening to some of the televised debates one could take an implication that an independent Scotland would be able to make more things free. In reality we think it might be wise to keep hold of this list, and see how many remain after a few years of independence, and the facing of reality alone. I’d put a better chance on them remaining if Scotland decides to remain part of the Union.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to reform hospital parking rules

Relatives of chronically ill patients must be given free or cheap hospital parking under new rules announced by the Government.

Patients with disabilities and those with frequent appointments as well as staff working shifts will also benefit from the shake-up, according to Jeremy Hunt.
Hospital Car Parking chages
The Health Secretary said new guidelines for English hospitals had been drawn up to put an end to the stress of “unfair” charges.

Trusts should waive fines when an overstay is beyond the control of the driver, such as treatment taking longer than planned, under the reforms.

Mr Hunt last month admitted he had concerns about the fees being charged to park at some hospitals after being pressed by Conservative backbenchers to put an end to the “rip-off” costs.

The guidance sets out for the first time that hospital trusts are responsible for the actions of any privately contracted firms they use to run their car parking operations.

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