Rt Hon Nasty Mr Johnson
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Alan Johnson, the Secretary of State for
Health for Great Britain, is neither right nor honourable but he is
plain nasty and never has he shown it more than in the unfortunate cases
of those ordinary people who have had to make one of the most
frightening decisions anybody could have to make.
In the nasty Mr Johnson's NHS it is not possible to fund part of your treatment yourself. Now, normally this would not matter very much - although it goes on all the time when people have chest infections they are given antibiotics funded by the NHS and they are encouraged to buy their own cough mixture. And why should they not, you may ask? Indeed, probably because it doesn't amount to a great deal of money a blind eye is turned to the unpleasant Mr Johnson's rule.
Mr Johnson's Rule comes into effect when his economic lapdog, the ostensible arbiter for the clinical availability of medicines on the NHS, the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), fails to make a prompt decision on the more expensive medicines, such as cancer treatments.
It matters little to the arrogant NICE that the whole world may have found a particular drug to be effective in treating cancer, either alone or in combination, if NICE hasn't finished its own, dilatory considerations on financial, cost-effectiveness the NHS will not fund it. Tough cheese, to those with those cancers.
However, these people grit their teeth, sell their houses or go begging to family and friends for the funds to pay for the drug which has been shown elsewhere could prolong or save their lives, themselves. And we are not talking pennies here but hundreds of thousands of pounds over a course of treatment.
Having managed to scrape the cash together they are then stunned by the evil Alan Johnson's knock-out blow. "Sorry, mate, you've gone private so you'll have to pay for all your treatment now. We can't have a two-tier health service, you know. You can't afford it? Well, you'll just have to die then. We can't have you jumping the queue. The penalty for that is death. Well, it is in my Department whilst I'm in charge, anyway."
Now, I admit that he doesn't actually say those words but he does not lean on the PCTs to compel them to fund such treatments and it is his responsibility.
A refusal to fund effective treatment to save a life - and I am only talking about clinically proven (even if not in the UK) effective treatment - is, indeed, tantamount to killing a patient or condemning them to an earlier death. A crime elsewhere described as either murder or manslaughter and punishable appropriately. Health Ministers, however, continue impassively on their ways.
But in fact, that is precisely what happened in England recently. A Mrs Linda O'Boyle had developed bowel cancer and was recommended a drug, cetuximab, which NICE wouldn't allow on NHS prescription but which her oncologist felt would boost her chances of survival. What a choice to make but she and her family made it only to be then told by the NHS Trust that she would have to pay for everything from then onwards. She couldn't afford to and she died. Others are in a similar unenviable position.
A callous NHS employee told the Press that patients have the right to choose. Presumably, to choose which way to die. With the drug they pay for but no NHS drugs, or, alternatively no recommended drug but to continue on failing NHS drugs but, in Johnson's NHS, patients cannot have a combination of drugs. That would be a two-tier health service and to him, that is a heinous crime apparently punishable by death.
Now, Johnson, can't blame the shortage of money because his boss, the blundering buffoon, Gordon Brown, late Chancellor of the Exchequer is telling the world that he's been throwing cash at the NHS for donkey's years. Maybe he's right and he has, but the foolish Johnson and his predecessors have been shovelling it out of the window faster than a steam railway fireman throws the coal on the fire of an express train going up hill. It's gone on useless computer systems, paying off private business "partners", funding foolish polyclinics and the rest. Anything but funding essential treatment for cancer sufferers. patients don't matter. Crackpot ideas do.
But, what can you expect from an ex-postman? He probably still thinks he's playing with penny stamps rather than with people's lives..