As Polly refuses to grasp

Especially this one: the NHS took over all the capacity of private hospitals, its 8,000 beds, 680 operating theatres and 20,000 staff, to carry out non-Covid emergency treatments for cancer, stroke and heart patients. In a gesture of wartime necessity, the well-off could not commandeer special treatment.

But the beds were not requisitioned as they might be in wartime; they were officially bought at “cost price” and the sum has been estimated to be £1bn, steep according to many.

Therefore, people buying their own health care, after they’ve already paid their taxes for the NHS, save the NHS £1 billion, don’t they?

45 thoughts on “As Polly refuses to grasp”

  1. Did the government steal people’s resources during the war? From memory I thought the government forced them to sell them.

  2. So Much For Subtlety

    n a gesture of wartime necessity, the well-off could not commandeer special treatment.

    But I bet the politically connected could

  3. “but just think of all the Spitfires and tanks that were built with those railings”

    I think it was aluminium pots and pans they wanted for Spitfires. I think most of the railings were never used anyway. In my home town all the railings taken from people’s gardens sat in the yard of the local scrap dealer throughout the war and when it was all over he got to sell them for a song…….

  4. But Tim, you need to remember the overlaps that exist. For example, I was not aware that there were private operating theatres. People I know who have “gone private” are bedded in a separate place with minimal staff, shipped to the NHS theatre close by and operated on by NHS surgeons, moonlighting for private companies, and NHS nurses. So they divert NHS resources and provide additional income for surgical staff. Happy to be proven wrong.

  5. The limiting factor in health care isn’t the beds it’s the staff, which is why the Nightingale hospitals were a propaganda stunt.

    Stealing the private sector beds would bankrupt the private hospitals and you would still have to pay their staff, and quite likely their leases as well. Simpler to just rent the beds.

    Incidentally it said the beds were supplied at “cost”. It would be interesting to compare the cost per bed of the private and public sectors. After all the private hospitals aren’t awash with diversity coordinators.

  6. They were compulsory bought. The gvt decreed all covid related claims on insurance companies invalid. Insurers were to hand over their capacity. There was no need to say they were covered by the NHS because they had that right anyway. In return the insured were placated by a cash bonus (250quid from memory without checking) if they caught the dreaded lurgi. That’s obviously a slap in the face for perfectly healthy people who pay more than that per month to cover all causes. Tim’s right this helps the NHS. So to have coverage so merrily lifted off people who’ve paid in for years, made choices, sacrifices to do so, at the first sign of this being needed, is a massive, massive disincentive to keep paying in, in the future.

  7. Bloke in North Dorset

    But the beds were not requisitioned as they might be in wartime; they were officially bought at “cost price” and the sum has been estimated to be £1bn, steep according to many.

    Those beds came with staff, not just doctors and nurses but cleaners, administrators, cooks bottle washers etc.

    Is she claiming the private health companies should have kept paying their wages plus electricity bills, food etc?

  8. the sum has been estimated to be £1bn, steep according to many

    A whole billion? Why that’s enough to keep Our NHS going for nearly 3 days.

  9. On the topic of Our Sainted NHS, I was talking with a chap in the logistics business the other day and we touched on the PPE chaos of last spring, when the government went mad and threw billions at anyone who claimed to be able to make or ship face masks etc.

    Apparently, as a consequence of that public sector hysteria and uselessness, the NHS now has 70 years worth of rubber gloves….

  10. “Roué le Jour

    They stole the railings, said he who grew up in a house with a row of stumps along the front.”

    As a kid (7 or 8 I think) I was running along a park wall and managed to put my foot on one of those stumps which was more of a spike. It came up through the sole of my trainers and out through the top…exactly between my big toe and the one next to it. Had my stride been two inches longer it would have been much worse.

  11. Diogenes – my wife’s experience of being an NHS patient given a new hip in a private hospital was nothing like that of the ‘people you know’. I doubt if it was possible for the treatment she received to be any better as a private patient. For example, the post-op physio support was wonderful and frequent. Six physio/hydrotherapy treatments over a period of just more than a month.
    And, according to a friend of ours, the private hospital received the same payment as our local NHS hospital would have received. At post-op appointments to see the Consultant, we didn’t have enough time in the waiting room to finish our coffee before we were shown into his office. Real coffee or tea, by the way, in china cups and saucers at no charge.

  12. My ENT surgeon does half a week private and half a week in the NHS. I had the option of paying for him to cut me up in his theatre, or waiting for him to bundle up a whole day’s worth of patients to and book the NHS theatre for a whole day. I chose the bundle option to encourage his efforts to maximise the utility of NHS resources. Plus I’m skint.

    In informal chats he’s fighting against a culture of: Mr Smith does an ENT 9am-10am, clean out the theatre, stand down his staff, Ms Jones does an appendix 11am, clean out, stand down, slot Mr Smith back in at 4pm, make sure his staff are still on site. He’s pushing a culture of gathering a team and a full day of booking and do a full 8am-4pm/5pm. One set-up, one wash-down, no hand-overs, no theatre down time, no Mr Brown booking out the gas’n’air Mr Green booking it back in again.

  13. Wonky Moral Compass

    @MC, enough rubber gloves for 70 years? If so, I bet we paid top dollar for them. Shame they only have a shelf life of 3-5 years, isn’t it? Still, other people’s money and all that.

  14. Unless it has changed, a GP referral is required for a private patient to be treated in a private hospital. That being so, the private patients who would have been treated in those private hospitals would be treated anyway, but at NHS expense. How would a GP know whether a patient needing surgery had a private policy or not?

  15. Diogenes – my wife was an NHS patient, referred by her NHS GP. The consultant was treating an NHS patient, free at the point of delivery; so yes.

  16. When I had to get a private X-ray done nearly 2 years ago it was done at my local NHS hospital after hours by the NHS staff using NHS equipment. They also gave me a cd with a copy of the images on, not sure if you get that with an NHS x-ray.

    The most difficult part of the process way paying and them trying to process my credit card. I half expected them to break out one of those old manual carbon paper imprinters!

  17. How would a GP know whether a patient needing surgery had a private policy or not?

    Mainly because you have to tell them if you actually want to see the referral and get a copy for the insurance company.
    Had to do it a couple of times. Each time, get the look of death from the useless cnut GP.
    How dare I not use the NHS, blessings be upon it

  18. Addolff
    January 15, 2021 at 1:29 pm
    Mr Womby, one (to me anyway) startling factoid was that the first NHS built hospital opened in 1963.

    Maybe this is another. Until the 1911 National Insurance Act, 75% of the population had private health insurance, via mutuals, Friendly Societies, Union schemes, community schemes, which could also include sickness/unemployment insurance as well other insurance. Health provision was overseen by the members. Doctors, nurses were hired and fired by them. The doctors and for-profit insurance companies didn’t like it, and lobbied for State Insurance. There was no clamour from the people, but it suited the political interests of the Liberal Party, stealing a march on the fledgling Labour Party, by showing they cared about the workers, even though the workers didn’t want it.

    The 25% without private insurance, were covered under the Poor Laws, community, charity, pro-bono. The 1911 Act, which made contributions compulsory, destroyed the private health insurance market… and still left those 25% uncovered. With many of mutual schemes out of the way, the for-profits picked up other insurance, life, property, etc. The doctors no longer reported to people wearing cloth caps and with dirt under their finger nails, just remote bureaucrats who knew nothing about the quality of service to the Great Unwashed and cared less.

  19. @Mr Womnly- as I understand it the voluntary hospitals were owned by charities who carried on but were only allowed to support the hospital, not cover the running costs. I used to work at Guys and St Thomas’, which has the 3rd largest medical charity in the UK, formed from Mr. Guy’s bequest. It was only spent on artwork and improving the sites, plus the occasional Capex (IRC they paid for the construction of the Evelina children’s hospital)

  20. “Did the government steal people’s resources during the war?”

    They stole my father’s guns, in that the Home Guard never returned them.

    They stole my parents’ Gypsy Caravan, in the the Observer Corps never returned it.

    Never, ever, lend something to an arm of Government as a public-spirited act if you want the bloody thing back.

    “Didn’t the government ‘steal’ all the (then) private hospitals when the NHS was created?”

    Many were not private, being owned by charities, trusts, and local authorities. But yes, as far as I know they were stolen.

  21. Chernyy_Drakon
    January 15, 2021 at 1:54 pm
    How would a GP know whether a patient needing surgery had a private policy or not?

    Mainly because you have to tell them if you actually want to see the referral and get a copy for the insurance company.

    But only if you want to make a claim. Since the NHS is footing the Bill, you don’t. My point is: “… the well-off could not commandeer special treatment.” – they would not have to as they would get it as a matter of course and since no commandeering would be necessary, no need to ask for a copy of the referral, the GP could not know. In any case it seems unlikely the GP would care nor would it be ethical to make a distinction.

  22. @diogenes

    You are very wrong. There are large numbers of private hospitals with operating theatres all over the country.

  23. Thank you, snag. Perhaps you should have read the thread in full before writing

    A few months ago, there was a TV programme about some nonentity celebrity’s ancestry and her grandfather had actually administered a Welsh district society’s health scheme, providing healthcare for members for a reasonable weekly subscription. Of course, when the NHS was created, they snapped up his hospitals and general organisation and made him redundant because he wasn’t a proper civil servant. Of course the celeb was brimful of pride at her forbear’s career and the fact that he ran a forerunner of the holy NHS. She didn’t seem to pick up the bitter irony of how the NHS took away his job

  24. When I had my operation at St Mary’s, Paddington Imperial College NHS Trust, I went straight to the organisation for that particular field (surgery) and saw the consulting surgeon without ever talking to any GP, I wasn’t even registered with GP/NHS at that time. £5500 (incl. £200 consultation) later I was better than when I was born.

  25. @chernyy

    “Had to do it a couple of times. Each time, get the look of death from the useless cnut GP.
    How dare I not use the NHS, blessings be upon it”

    You should try telling an NHS GP that you went to a private GP for a second opinion… Much blustering about how it disrupts ‘continuity of care’.

    The original ‘care’ they are talking about was a one-line text message from a no-reply number in response to an email ‘appointment’ under their wonderful triage system* during the pandemic. Needless to say there was zero information content in the text apart from ‘I don’t think you need to worry about it’.

    Hey, it was only a neo-natal problem, not that important right?

    Unfortunately it was my polite wife doing the second follow-up appointment (on the phone this time) rather than me, so what needed to be said wasn’t fully said, although at least she didn’t feel like she should apologise or anything.

    * the system appears to be – don’t come to the GP surgery. Don’t expect referrals for anything not urgent. If it is urgent, don’t come asking for a referral, go to A&E. If in doubt, leave us alone, sort it out yourself. There’s a pandemic on, don’t you know?

  26. dearieme: we were still paying the mortgage on our cottage hospital when it was taken from us. Many local oldsters were kiddies who donated their pocket money, “sixpenny shares” and suchlike.

  27. @Diogenes…People I know who have “gone private” are bedded in a separate place with minimal staff, shipped to the NHS theatre close by and operated on by NHS surgeons, moonlighting for private companies, and NHS nurses. So they divert NHS resources and provide additional income for surgical staff. Happy to be proven wrong.

    Have experienced it myself a couple of times on basis the surgeon asked me if I would do him a favour and agree to be transferred and have the op in our local 3* NHS facility instead of the 5* private facility I’d booked, to accommodate his schedule – so that he could fit in another NHS patient that day. No skin off my nose…glad to help out.

  28. Andy: I had to have a heart CT scan at Papworth on the NHS (nothing wrong, fortunately). I asked the radiographer if I could have the DICOM files and she looked at me quite blankly. I did eventually get them by negotiating with their Data Manager. It’s quite interesting to view them – 3D view from any angle of my heart, lungs & spine.

  29. “Unless it has changed, a GP referral is required for a private patient to be treated in a private hospital. ”

    I think the closed shop attitude between doctors is beginning to break down – I’ve managed to get to see private specialists in my local private hospital just by ringing them up and making an appointment. It appears once you’re on their computer system they’re not too worried about stepping on the NHS GP’s toes any more, they’re quite happy to take your money. They also have a private GP service so if push came to shove you’d just pay for a private GP appointment, who would then refer you you the appropriate specialist.

    Back in the summer I was involved in an accident at work on the farm, crushed my foot, luckily a lot less damage than there could have been. After a few weeks it was still very painful so decided to get another Xray done to check A&E hadn’t missed something. Rang the private hospital on a Monday, had an appointment on the Thursday with the specialist, had xrays done there and then, he then looked at them, declared himself happy with what he saw, no further action needed, just more time to heal. Had I attempted to get the same out of the NHS I expect I’d still be waiting now.

  30. Why do we have to negotiate this labyrinth of bureaucracy in order to access our healthcare? My cat doesn’t have this problem.

  31. “Why do we have to negotiate this labyrinth of bureaucracy in order to access our healthcare?”

    Because it gives all the people within the healthcare system more power, prestige and pay as a result. It wouldn’t do to have a system whereby the patient is in control of his or her own medical needs, no that must be handed to other people and the patient kept as a supplicant pleading for care, and pathetically grateful for whatever scraps of attention the system deigns to grant them.

  32. Well, now when the socialist USA democratise their healthcare system, when you criticise ours they can’t whine ooh so you want the US system instead eh you tory scum? There is some comfort in that. But of course they still can do that and will.

  33. I don’t really mind a 2 trillion shot in the arm and asset bubbles, I’m quite comfortably in psysical gold, bitcoin, property and equities, and my lifestyle is very modest. I am happy with any old small banger that gets me to Morrisons. There was a time when I needed to show off and buy a porsche, house in Surrey, etc, got it out of my system. I tell you secret, people up north are much friendlier, nicer, polite, less traffic, no school runs really, no coons here, the biggest problem I think is litter by the roads. Haven’t seen seen a dark face since my February London trip. I guess I might live right inside that Red Wall.

  34. “Haven’t seen seen a dark face since my February London trip”: how odd. The first dark faces I ever saw were oop North. Leeds railway station.

  35. I went private back in 2003 at Little Aston Hospital. My parents paid £280 for an appointment with an ENT, booked direct with the hospital no need to go via GP. After examination he gave me a treatment I knew would not work as its how I sleep every night. Went away annoyed at the puffed up consultant who wasted my parents money.
    So went via my GP, referred to Walsall hospital (slightly further away than Little Aston hospital) and saw ….. the same consultant.
    Apart from ordering a very dangerous (to me) test he didn’t find anything wrong. Yet I could not walk a half dozen steps across a room without falling over.
    The test? Run water through ears – and was cold water, lethal to me if done long enough.
    The screaming when they ran it was kind of a clue….

    Never saw that consultant again, still undiagnosed 17 years later. Yet still the same problem walking unassisted in a room I don’t know well.

  36. @Jussi & dearieme

    It depends which bit of “oop North”: Lancaster, very few dark faces; Blackburn, very few pale faces. Speaking of which, I see there’s a new series of The Bay (Morecambe) starting this week. I’ll bet they’ll have a West Indian plod again – I suspect the nearest real life such to Morecambe would be in the Met (or maybe Brum).

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