Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Assessing priorities

It is difficult to comment on the proposal that military veterans should receive priority for NHS treatment without accusations of not wanting to properly look after those who risk their lives, and suffer physical or mental injury, in the service of the state. The matter has almost become a bidding war between the Labour and Conservative parties as to which of them can be seen to be doing most to help ex-soldiers.

But the proposal does need to be properly examined and challenged, because raising the priority of one group inevitably means reducing the priority for others. If it does not have that effect, then it is effectively a meaningless promise; and if it does have that effect, then that should be spelled out, so that we all understand the impact of what is being proposed.

The principle on which the NHS is based is that treatment and support should be provided, first and foremost, on the basis of clinical need; the more urgent the need, the more priority the case should receive. So, if military veterans have the greatest need, they will be at the top of the list anyway; and if they don't, then other people with a greater need based on clinical assessment will be moved down the list to accommodate them.

The emotional case being made through the tabloids for doing more to help 'our brave servicemen and women' is a clear one, and easy to empathise with. But responding to that by pushing non-military cases down the lists - even if the need is greater, and the suffering more intense - is not something that I could justify supporting.

The real question is surely how we ensure that everyone receives the treatment and support they need, as and when they need it. In that case, adjusting the priorities between cases in response to headlines is avoiding the real issue.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's an interesting one because veterans issues in America for example has traditionally been a left-wing cause. The British parties advocating better care for servicepeople leave themselves open to allegations of hypocrisy, seeing as they are misusing those servicemen and women in conflicts that are being proven to be immoral at best and illegal at worst. Plaid can take on veterans issues with a clean slate, as long as they take a strong position on getting the troops out of Afghanistan.

Spirit of BME said...

This is not a issue for Plaid as there is no Welsh Army in the field.
HMF (where Welsh is not recognised or allowed to be used in communications)is a creature of the English Parliament and therefore what they do to their casualties is entirely up to them.

Anonymous said...

I think labour are fighting now to keep the people voting for it, I've left labour after 42 years in the party, I'm slowly moving over to voting BNP, not because I think they are great good or evil, it's the only thing left for me to scare this dam government and others into listening to the people, the poor the working class are now third rate people in our own dam country. and I know because I live it each day

spirit of BME said...

This outside Plaid`s scope.
There is no Welsh Army in the field.
HMF discriminate against Welsh language by banning its use in communications and her forces are a creature of the English Parliament and Queen.
As long as this army is based on volunteers,Blaid can have as much influance as they can on the French Foriegn Legion.

Anonymous said...

What is the army it's a job, politicians who do not want people hurt should think before sending them to a war zone.

I was made disabled by an accident at work, is that any less important then being in the army, we are not at war like it or not, these wars are labour made, not world wars.

John Dixon said...

Spirit,

I disagree that this is somehow 'outside Plaid's scope'. Like it or not, young Welsh men and women are fighting overseas in the British Army and some of them either do not return at all, or return injured, physically or mentally. I am not prepared to ignore that issue just because I disagree with the war that they're fighting or the way in which we got into that war.

Everyones Favourite Comrade said...

Surely the answer is simply, reverse the cuts in the NHS and increase investment so all patients and can get quick and good treatment and stop these imperialist wars of aggression in the first place, the money saved there could go straight into the NHS