Monday, May 04, 2009

Government Waste

A follow up to the previous post on government-run health care. And this isn't even going to touch on the fact that our Foreign Secretary thinks it's a good idea to waste money like this in a time of economic hardship.

Gordon Brown and David Miliband are to charter private jets to carry them on official business around the world.

Private flights typically cost £8,000 an hour, with the average bill for a return trip to Washington around £80,000.

For a flight to India the cost of a regular airline is £1,803 while a private jet will cost a staggering £160,000.

So how does this relate to health care? Well, while NICE denies drugs to patients based on their cost alone, the government thinks it's a good idea to fritter away tens of thousands of pounds on private jets to trips overseas. Not only is there a more cost-effective solution available, one has to ask how many of these trips are essential? What about Miliband picking up the phone or teleconferencing? Not quite so glamorous but when people are having to wait for six months for a scan on the NHS there is obviously a more pressing need for this taxpayers' money.

But no- the government (and this won't change under the Tories if they win the next election) has to have their trappings of power. That they don't agonise over how to spend every penny of taxpayers' money on their job, that they think it's fine to spend ten times more the going rate to fly to America, is a sure sign that the health and lives of the people they represent is of little concern to them. In fact, I'd be surprised if it had even occurred to a single one of them that saving a few thousand pounds here and there could transform a seriously ill person's life- if not save them outright.

And the same thing will happen in the US if Obama has his way. While people will have to wait for treatments, while they will be denied costly treatments, the government will carry on spending money like a drunken sailor.

But that money wasn't in the health care budget, they might argue if confronted. Well, we must respond- why the hell not? Why are you wasting our taxes on luxury flights instead of finding the most cost-effective solution and then transferring the unspent money in your budget over to the health care sector?

The only conclusion we can reach is that they really don't care. When was the last time a British politician declared- "I slashed my department's/office's budget and have X thousand pounds left over. Here, NHS, use it to treat the seriously ill"?

The answer is never.

And if the current administration gets their way the President, to name but one example, will still go on utterly unnecessary trips overseas with a legion of followers and security personnel at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars- at the same time the taxpayer funded health care system will deny drugs, scans and treatments to patients because the budget just can't bear it.

Senators will still go on holidays fact-finding missions on the taxpayers' dime, like Obama's wasteful trip to Kenya, while people die because they couldn't get the scan needed to detect an illness early enough to be treatable or because they drugs needed to control the illness have been declared too costly.

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