Market Madness 161


The first post of 2013 comes to you from the cardiac care unit of the QEQM Hospital in Margate. Three days ago I collapsed for the second time in two days; an ambulance was called and a paramedic arrived within 5 minutes, with a full ambulance arriving inside a further five minutes. The NHS at its amazing best. I am well looked after.

This is how the NHS should work; public services provided by the state quickly, efficiently and directly. Yet a couple of weeks previously I had an example of just how the NHS should not operate. I returned from Ghana with a persistent ear infection, resulting in pain, deafness and loss of balance. I went to see the GP who agreed to refer me to a consultant. A few days later, instead of an appointment, I received a letter outlining the NHS “choose and call” programme listing a number of hospitals and phone numbers, and giving me a code to use to book an appointment. This is all in the name of patient choice.

But I really do not want this choice. I want my local hospital – and every local hospital – to have an ENT consultant working to a high standard who can sort out an ear infection. Then I want an appointment to see them quickly. I am not buying a novel or a washing up liquid. The idea that every transaction involving provision of state services should be based on an expensively created and entirely artificial market mechanism is an ideological frippery. Behind that letter lies a mass of administration to record my choice and shuffle invoices and financial transfers between my GP’s practice and whichever hospital I pick. Those invoices and transfers are all entirely internal state administration yet add massively to – multiply – the cost of simply getting a man to look down my ear canal.

There is a parallel here to the private sector distortion by which the middlemen who transfer the money for transactions have contrived ways to complicate that function until they are the major beneficiaries of economic activity.

Thankfully in emergencies this craziness is not yet applied. But I do not rule out one day being stretchered into an ambulance, asked where I want to go and handed a telephone.


161 thoughts on “Market Madness

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  • Paul Sparks

    Sorry to hear about your medical problems. The NHS remains superb when one’s circumstances are life-threatening, but (for the reasons you give) is increasingly frustrating when dealing with chronic conditions, which it once used to be equally efficient at tackling. Another triumph for the free market! I wish you a speedy recovery.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Very sorry, and shocked, to hear of your ill health, Craig – all best wishes for a speedy recovery! And to Nextus too – lots of bugs doing the rounds at this time of year.

    I wholeheartedly agree with your comment, Craig. Well said, too, David Halpin, Pete and the others. Yes, all this nonsense began in the late 1980s and it is ideologically-driven.

  • Mary

    Cameron who should be ashamed of his betrayal of the NHS having promised that it would be safe in his hands, and especially after having received its wonderful care for his disabled child, is on Marr this morning along with the actor Rupert Everett and the comedian Rory Bremner. That’s a trio to behold.

  • Mary

    Sorry to hear that Teapot. He was fairly recently here on the Al Hilli site, making multiple posts through the night as far as I recall. No wonder when you read this from the site quoted. Poor man. A terrible disease with much pain relieved with morphine thank goodness. RIP.

    ‘i spoke with his sister this morning. she is at his home now. he was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma in 2006 and had a kidney removed. in 2007 he learned the cancer had spread to his lungs. he went on an agressive treatment of super drugs that halted all further cancer growth. he has lived a full life since. recently he began experiencing back and leg pain. he had a mri and a ct scan the week before christmas. as of the 22nd of december when i spoke with him last he was awaiting those results. in the meantime he was administered loads of pain medications including liquid morphine. he went to sleep in his favorite chair watching videos christmas night and never woke up. the family expects to hear from the coroner Monday or Tuesday. a service will be held in his current town of residence on the River Thames. he will be cremated.’

  • Ken

    Very best wishes to you Craig and a Happy New Year.
    Hope you make good progress.

    Long time follower of your blog here but only post rarely. Usually everyone articulates things much better than I can.

    But have just found this, Dr David Kelly on PressTV’s website. In two episodes.
    http://www.presstv.ir/doc/aperture.html#The Death of Dr. Kelly-An Open Case

    Have just started watching.

  • guano

    I went to see my 92 year old neighbour in hospital recently. Denial had taken over. ‘This is my place. I live here’ He said, glancing over at the next door sleeping patient + catheter.
    It made me think how much of our lives we live in denial because we cannot change the outrageous realities. Not to deny is to commit the thought crime of questioning the appalling facts of economic post Thatcherism. Today my daughter flies to India to escape Western brainwashing and corporate lies in favour of a realler environment.
    To deny, is the meaning of the arabic word kafir, disbeliever.
    So please use your temporary physical incapacity to reflect on the reality of your Creator, who gave us a mechanism for holding ourselves upright, and get better soon.

  • Arbed

    John Goss, Clark, Mary, Fred, Frazer, and others… Total hoax, don’t worry about it:

    https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/287631460985344001

    However, this is worth worrying about:

    http://falkvinge.net/2013/01/04/two-swedes-renditioned-to-the-us-possibly-to-death-penalty-in-secrecy-and-without-lawyers-knowledge/

    This 2nd Jan 2013 article in the Independent illustrates better how both the UK and the Swedish governments co-operated ahead of time to serve the political will of the US:

    Rendition gets ongoing embrace from Obama administration:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/rendition-gets-ongoing-embrace-from-obama-administration-8434963.html

    Note the way Britain stripped its own citizen of citizenship to smooth the way. Note the Swedish government’s complete unwillingness to even protect the rights of its own citizens – it just served them up on request (wonder how a non-Swede or Australian would fare…?). Note the existence of a secret Grand Jury indictment handed down months before these individuals were detained in Djibouti – only unsealed just after arrest. And before you say “ah, but they’re terrorists”, note that the UK (ex-)citizen was a Somalian-born care worker working in Britain who filed a formal complaint in 2009 claiming harassment by the MI5 intelligence service, who threatened him with all sorts of trouble if he didn’t become an informant.

    For the kind of questions being asked about the legality of this case in Sweden, see this SvD Opinion article:

    http://translate.google.co.uk/translate?u=http://www.svd.se/opinion/brannpunkt/ud-bor-forklara-hur-utlamningen-gatt-till_7793002.svd

    Not a whole lot of speculation needed to see from the above what would happen to Assange if he went to Sweden. All the better (from their point of view) that the ridiculous sex allegations case is so weak it can be dropped almost instantly in favour of a US request for extradition.

  • Clark

    Craig, best wishes to you, and Get Well Soon. I apologise for getting sidetracked by software licensing issues earlier.

  • guano

    Mark
    It is not helpful to Syria to take evidence from Shi’a Press TV.
    Imagine that Wales had been taken over by democratic process by Druids, which is more akin to the Alawi religion than any aspect of Islam or Christianity. Now they are going to make a coalition with other Celts in Ireland, Scotland and parts of France and right wing, xenophobic forces of the Tories and UKIP and EDL to put pressure on England. Put yourself in the position of being under the control of a government of extremist minorities backed by Irish America.
    You have now lived like this for 40 years. Compassion commonsense, criticism of those in power will get you and your families tortured and disappeared. Will you not enlist the help of outsiders in order to re-establish normality in the country of your origin? The situation has changed simply because of Assad’s behaviour. If he had capitulated to the pressure from commonsense and external power to relinquish his Alawi/Druidic insanity, dismantle his Fascist coalition, and exit to safety in Russia, he might have had some sympathy. Now we are waiting for this Alawi/Druid and his pack of racist EDL/Shi’a hounds to be permanently exterminated. The moment is very near when commonsense is going to be returned to Syria, even though these madmen detest the idea of falling from their French=donated, Israel-protected, Iran-funded, Russia-sponsored power.

  • Clark

    Arbed and others, thanks for confirming that the “Assange arrested” story is a hoax. Yes, the rendition situation is maintained by US power, and undermines international law.

  • John Goss

    Arbed, thanks. I have been following that case. It is why I am convinced Julian Assange did the right thing in taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy. Another travesty, more rendition, and more opportunity for the United States to break international law.

  • Clark

    Techno, 5 Jan, 9:09 pm, thanks for your reply.

    “But in the short run we have to respond quickly to technical problems – there is 24 hour support – so we have to have complete control over the code.”

    The company can retain control and still publish the source by restricting log-ins for writing to the hub. Obviously, other parties could publish a fork, but your company isn’t required to offer support for forks.

    “I would prefer to work with open source but I needed a job :)”

    Well, precisely. Companies restrict access to source code for one basic reason – commercial advantage. You’d prefer open source, and it would be in the interests of the health service and the patients, but the (evil?) company says “No!”

    What is most worrying is that, by definition, we don’t know what it is that the company wish to conceal. The company could be merely suffering typical commercial paranoia, but they are also avoiding scrutiny, and could also be hiding unethical practices.

    Here, you may find this interesting:
    http://blog.havenbastion.org/2012/12/heart-gadgets-test-privacy-law-limits.html

    Incidentally, comments here no longer need placeholders for paragraph formatting; Jon fixed it.

  • Kempe

    “Come on, my insult was almost carry-on funny. Really, it was too obvious to resist. I did try. But you are offended so please accept my apology.”

    Yes of course; maybe I was being a bit over-sensitive.

    The creeping privatisation of the NHS does concern me but I think the worst threat is the mountains of debt building up through PFI deals which successive governments have actively encouraged. When the cuts come it won’t be any of the several tiers of management that go but front-line staff and services.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/debtridden-nhs-trust-to-be-scrapped-8231436.html

  • Jim McDonald

    Hi Craig, Hope your better and Happy New year, All the best for you and your family.

    Tried watching the Press Tv Doc about David Kelly’s demise. Can’t get the last 10m 40s of the second part to play…. Am I the only one?

  • Suhayl Saadi

    I’m very sorry to hear about the death of Anders7777. Crumbs, I didn’t know he was ill. He seemed so spirited. I hadn’t seen any posts for a while, but assumed he’d just gone elsewhere on the web. He had been posting on the Al Hilli threads like there was no tomorrow. I guess that was exactly it. How utterly dreadful for him and his family. One of my relatives died of renal cancer, aged 47. Awful. My condolences to his family.

  • A Node

    @ guano 6 Jan, 2013 – 1:42 pm

    It is not helpful to Syria to take evidence from Shi’a Press TV.

    I doubt anyone here is treating this Press TV documentary as “evidence”. It is just another source of information which can be weighed in the balance with the rest. It is valuable because the source lies outwith our mainstream media, and as such is an alternative source of information.

    Most of the ‘information’ by which we have to judge the world (and our position in it) comes from sources with a common agenda. A good strategy is to acquire information from sources outwith these vested interests, when possible, and then to compare the credibility of the two.

    The fact that Press TV has been banned from British TV goes a long way to proving its independence from our MSM.

  • A Node

    Resistance takes many forms. Art thrives on hardship and injustice. Here’s a moving selection of Intifada posters.

    The poster tradition is an exceptional element of Palestinian cultural heritage, and the posters themselves are important repositories of primary data. Palestine posters created by artists at the time of the first Intifada provide a unique lens through which today’s audiences can gain insight into the attitudes and aspirations of people directly involved in the resistance as it emerged. The Palestine Poster Project Archives contains 230 posters in its “Intifada” Special Collection (posters that contain the word “Intifada” or obvious visual references to the Intifada). Below is a selection of twelve posters from around the first year of the Intifada that provide a representative history of that watershed event.

    http://desertpeace.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/posters-of-the-first-intifada-roots-of-resistance/

  • guano

    The C of E has made its position 100% clear on gay bishops.
    They may be homosexual but they must not be found out. Actually it would make quite a good manifesto for any of the institutions of the UK. Raw Bitch feminist would be bishops are delighted that the male church hierarchy has exposed its soft underbelly for the public to sniff its hypocrisy-hormoned balls. They can switch the manifesto easily from gay bishops’ gay romps to their own hell-fire adulteries.

  • guano

    Laysa ba’d al kufri thanb/ not that their adulteries are worse than their open disbelief in the Oneness of Allah. Bless ’em.
    Like the boy who clearly remembered Savile’s monster metal cross banging on his back while he was being raped. The feminist clergy hang their husbands up on the cross to get them out the way while they shag their way up the greasy pole of the church hierarchy, like the bulging dead eyes of a mousy caught in the mousetrap. Men are fine for doing baby-sitting and doing household chores. But don’t let them in the larder where the tarts are.

  • guano

    I wish I had killed my wife when I first found out she was having sex with the neighbour and I wish we could have a war against the British Establishment like the one in Syria. Apart from those two things Happy New Year!

  • Suhayl Saadi

    “Raw Bitch feminist would be bishops are delighted that the male church hierarchy has exposed its soft underbelly for the public to sniff its hypocrisy-hormoned balls.” Guano.

    Guano, that’s repulsive.

    Anyway, it all sounds a little like ‘Father Ted’!

  • Suhayl Saadi

    “I wish I had killed my wife when I first found out she was having sex with the neighbour” Guano.

    Excellent opening line for a stage play (about something completely different)!

  • guano

    A Node
    If someone uses a link to express an opinion they should obviously disassociate themselves from the unacceptable ideas contained in the link if they don’t agree with them.

    The Syrian people feared that the insurrection against Assad would end up being bloodily and brutally put down with many thousands murdered by the regime as had happened both in Iraq and in Syria before. That does not mean that they have ever opposed the insurrection as Press TV are implying.

    Their other concern is that the powers that be would impose another leader after Assad like Mursi in Egypt who would persecute the people through an American cobbled together version of one-sided Shari’ah law. Mursi knows now that he cannot do that without himself being ejected from power.

    The Syrian people never had the reservation that the Libyans had that their dictator had resisted the international banking system, created peace and stability and nationalised the oil wealth which the bankers have now reserved entirely to themselves. There is nothing for the West to steal in Syria, and therefore no reason for them to invade apart from the chemical weapons that they themselves sold to Saddam which Israel secretly transported to Syria.

    Would you like to buy back your smelly old car after someone has set it on fire?

    The Syrian people have always been prepared to sacrifice their lives and possessions if it resulted in the throwing out of external powers. Now that Mursi has been tamed alhamdulillah the Syrians can expect to gain a measure of autonomy. It had seemed previously that they would be swapping one form of dictatorship for another. Even if the West take their hands out of their pockets to remove Assad, they cannot ever make a Lebanon out of Syria.

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