NHS no longer “free”
Cutbacks mean NHS does not cover some things at all — so pay up or go without treatment. Skin surgery, for instance, is not covered. But skin cancers can be quite distressing and may even metastasize, eventually killing the patient! Ain’t socialized medicine grand?
And I know a bit about skin cancer. I had two of them excised today in fact (in Australia, where I live) by a private plastic surgeon. I needed to make an appointment only a couple of weeks in advance but I was on the operating table within ten minutes of arriving and back home an hour later. That shows you what is possible if you live in a country where hard work enables you to save money for a rainy day. Health insurance will pay part of his fees but because I go to the top guy in town I have to raid the piggybank a bit too — JR
Patients expecting minor operations on the NHS have been told by their doctors they will now only be treated if they pay. GPs have sent out letters to those on waiting lists telling the procedures are ‘no longer paid for by the NHS’ but that they have ‘options’ as a private patient.
Thirty patients waiting for minor skin surgery were told they may have to pay up to £250 for their treatment.
Doctors leaders’ said that such practice created worrying potential for conflicts of interest, warning that they could become commonplace as the NHS tries to save £20billion by 2015.
But the Haxby Group Practice in North Yorkshire, which sent the letters, denies any wrong doing, insisting that the private option was a pragmatic response to funding problems that could spread countrywide. The local primary care trust, however, says it has ‘significant concerns’ and is now investigating the scheme.
John McEvoy, the managing partner at the practice, wrote to patients saying: ‘We are holding your details on a list of patients who require a minor surgical procedure that is no longer paid for by the NHS.
‘We have waited to see if the situation would alter but unfortunately … we can no longer offer your procedure as one of our NHS services. As a result I am writing to make you aware of some of the options that you have to have the procedure completed as a private patient.’ One of the private providers listed is Haxby Group Ltd, which is wholly owned by Haxby Group practice.
Mr McEvoy insisted that it was not handing over patient details to a commercial organisation. ‘It isn’t a direct mail shot from the company,’ he said. ‘We’re being very above board about the link between the practice and the company. Patients have a choice about whether to use that service or another.’
He said the practice partners were ‘not driving around in Ferraris’ and were offering private treatment only because the health trust was ‘skint’. ‘We’re doing this at cost because we feel the service needs to be offered. I don’t want to be in this position, I’d like to offer the service under the original contract we had with the NHS.’
Local health chiefs said it was wrong to claim that the procedures would never be available locally.
David Geddes, medical director of NHS North Yorkshire and York, said: ‘We have significant concerns about this letter. We were not made aware of it in advance. Had we been consulted we would have advised against its release.
‘Patients need to know that where we do not routinely commission services, we recognise there may be exceptions. If a GP feels there is clinical merit for a patient to receive such a treatment, they can request approval to be granted in exceptional circumstances from our individual funding panel.’
Mr McEvoy said the Haxby Group scheme had been cleared by the Local Medical Committee, which represents GPs, but agreed that ‘guidance would be useful’ about what sort of private offerings are permitted.
Richard Vautrey, the deputy chairman of the British Medical Association’s GPs committee, said guidance was being prepared.
‘The dire finances of many Primary Care Trusts means that many more NHS treatments are likely to become unavailable. The BMA is very concerned by potential conflicts of interest,’ he said.
Clare Gerada, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘Once the Health and Social Care Bill becomes law — together with the impact of £20 billion cuts — we believe that the boundary between what a GP offers under their NHS provision, and what is offered for a private fee, is in danger of becoming increasingly blurred.’
Foreign thugs to lose human right to a ‘family life’ in Britain
The do-gooders are already howling about this, of course. One wonders whose side they are on: certainly not on the side of the British people
Illegal immigrants, foreign criminals and welfare tourists are to be stripped of their ‘human right’ to a family life in Britain. Home Secretary Theresa May will today promise to change immigration rules to end much of the rampant abuse of Labour’s Human Rights Act.
It comes amid demands from senior Tories and the public for the hugely unpopular legislation to be ditched altogether.
Currently, foreign nationals who have a child or marry in the UK can be spared deportation under the controversial Article 8 – the right to a ‘family life’. Little or no thought is given to the misery they inflicted on their victims. But in future, judges will normally be expected to boot out any foreign national who flouts the law – regardless of family circumstances.
The new rules will explicitly say that, if children were fathered while the immigrant was in Britain illegally, the right to ‘family life’ should be discounted. It will also apply where they have committed a crime or cannot support themselves without milking public funds.
Officials expect this to lead to the deportation of hundreds more offenders. Currently more than 200 criminals escape removal every year using Article 8.
There have been a string of shocking cases of criminals – including killers – using the Act to make a mockery of British justice. Most notoriously, Iraqi illegal immigrant Aso Mohammed Ibrahim, who left Amy Houston, 12, to die under the wheels of his Rover car, was allowed to stay because he had fathered two children in Britain.
Mrs May – who heaped pressure on David Cameron to scrap the Act at the weekend – said the case had been one of the reasons why she decided to take action.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail ahead of her speech today, she said it was time to ‘rebalance’ human rights law in favour of the law-abiding majority. ‘Article 8 is one of the things that really annoys people about the whole environment of human rights. It is not an absolute right. My personal view of the Human Rights Act is that I would like to see it go. Meanwhile, this is something practical that I can do to help deport people who should not be here.’
The announcement came as Lord Carlile, the senior Lib Dem peer, warned that ‘the promiscuous use of Article 8 risks placing the contemporary concept of human rights into disrepute’.
It marks a victory for the Mail, which has led the way in highlighting the way the Act has driven a coach and horses through our border controls.
The changes will be introduced using secondary legislation, which allows the Government to make changes to the law without a full vote of MPs and peers. The Lib Dems have agreed the policy, Mrs May said.
It will force judges not to view immigrants’ right to a family life in isolation. Instead, the existence of children or a partner must be balanced against the havoc the offender has wreaked. Where there has been a crime or breach of the rules, this should outweigh family concerns.
Tory MP Dominic Raab, who has led calls for reform of Article 8, said: ‘This is a welcome step. But, under the terms of the Human Rights Act, the only way to guarantee we can deport criminals claiming spurious family ties is through an Act of Parliament which can’t then be overruled by judges.’
The changes will have no impact on the separate Article 3 of the Human Rights Act – which bans the deportation of people to countries where they could face ill-treatment or torture. Last week, it emerged that a string of convicted terrorists, including two fanatics who helped the July 21 bombers, were using Article 3 to fight deportation.
Lord Carlile, formerly the independent reviewer of terror laws, said that where somebody tries to harm Britain there should be a ‘higher bar’ for saving them from removal. In a blistering article for the Policy Exchange think-tank, he warned: ‘We should remember that there are over 100 extremist offenders in custody, of whom some are shortly to be released, and probably over 60 already released since 2007.
‘Most are in the community: the deportation of several of foreign nationality has been frustrated by a narrow interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights.’
London’s ghettoes ‘are sleepwalking towards a schools apartheid’
London has become divided into ethnic ghettoes that are ‘sleepwalking towards Johannesburg’ under apartheid, according to a leading independent school head teacher.
David Levin, head of City of London School for boys, has spoken of his ‘increasing alarm’ at the way communities in London are split along race lines, with youngsters of different ethnicity rarely or never mixing and the inevitable tensions that causes.
At one school, Stepney Green Maths and Computing College, in Tower Hamlets, East London, 97 per cent of pupils are Bangladeshi. And at another, in Peckham, South London, pupils are ‘overwhelmingly’ West African.
South African Mr Levin, whose school routinely tops GCSE and A-level league tables, suggested the worsening situation could lead to racial tension as people ‘fear those they do not know’. He said: ‘I think London is sleepwalking towards Johannesburg – the ghettoisation of the community. It means they are not mixing with people from other faiths, different races and different socio-economic backgrounds.
‘One of the things I have learned pre and post – particularly post – apartheid is that your imagination is much stronger than the reality. ‘You may not like someone, but if you know them then you do not fear them.’
He claimed there are parts of London where ethnic minority youngsters never leave their council estate let alone their borough. He called on private schools to send mentors and teachers into the ‘ghettoes’ to ensure that disadvantaged pupils mix with youngsters of ‘different races and socio-economic backgrounds’.
Mr Levin, whose school has pupils from 41 countries, has set up outreach projects with some schools, such as Stepney Green, to teach maths and science. City of London also offers scholarships to talented pupils.
Children from white families are in the minority in both Birmingham and Leicester, as well as most London boroughs.
Stepney Green, a boys’ school, has almost 900 pupils aged 11 to 16. It was rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted this year. Despite being in a deprived part of London, some 82 per cent of its pupils got A* to C in English and maths GCSE in 2010.
Mr Levin, who is vice-chairman of the association of leading independent schools, the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, was speaking yesterday at its annual conference. He is leading an initiative to encourage private primary schools to help sponsor academies [charters].