My Word by John Craig, ex-Wiltshire fire chief - Plugging the black hole...

My Word by John Craig, ex-Wiltshire fire chief - Plugging the black hole...

My Word by John Craig, ex-Wiltshire fire chief - Plugging the black hole...

First published in News

We all know that the NHS is facing serious financial problems.

It was with great interest and some concern that I recently read of the proposals to deal with this growing crisis put forward by Labour MP, Frank Field.

His suggested remedies for what ails the NHS centre around changes to the National Insurance (NI) system, starting with increasing the amount being paid by those still working.

However, being a pensioner, what really caught my eye was Mr Field’s proposal that pensioners should be made to continue paying National Insurance contributions after they start drawing their pension.

His ideas go further and include the proposal that unless a pensioner pays NI contributions he or she will not be entitled to free NHS treatment at the point of delivery and they should be made to pay for it as if receiving private treatment.

Apparently, the reasoning behind such thoughts is that elderly people make greater use of the NHS than younger and fitter folk do and therefore they should be made to cough up cash before getting the health care they need.

Of course, Mr Field’s proposals are controversial because if adopted they would mean the Government jettisoning some of the core principles upon which the NHS was founded in 1948.

Nevertheless, from what I have read, Mr Field has been given a fair hearing by both the Health Secretary and members of the Shadow Cabinet and this tells me that his proposals have not been dismissed out of hand.

It will be interesting to see what appears in the political party manifestos as we approach the General Election next year.

I am but one of millions who, during my days in employment, paid a lot of money in NI contributions without making many claims on the NHS, for which I am very grateful.

However, it is inevitable that as we grow older and parts of our body start to creak, click, dry up, leak or drop off, the times we need health treatment and care will increase.

I am sure that most pensioners share my view that we can draw on the services of the NHS with a clear conscience, having paid handsomely in earlier years for the help of the NHS needed in our twilight years.

Evidently, Frank Field doesn’t see it this way and chooses to brush aside the insurance monies we paid the Government in our working days as being irrelevant when the time comes to start making claims.

Many readers will have experienced the anger and frustration created when a private insurance company, with which we have an insurance contract and to which we have paid our premiums faithfully over many years, then tries to avoid paying out when we need to make a claim.

To my way of thinking, Mr Field’s proposals come close to being a parallel of this.

I accept that the NHS is in serious trouble and radical steps will probably have to be taken to safeguard its future.

A way has to be found of filling the ‘black hole’ that has opened up in the NHS budget. My proposals differ from Mr Field’s.

I urge Mr Cameron and whoever occupies 10 Downing Street after May 2015 to wage war on waste in the NHS, starting with trying to find some way of stemming the loss of billions on failed computer projects.

If there really is a desire to tax the heavy service user in the way suggested by Mr Field’s proposal, doesn’t this open up the debate about charging binge drinkers for the financial burden they place on the NHS, said to be over £20billion a year?

Comments (7)

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4:00pm Sun 31 Aug 14

A.Keat says...

The last paragraph of Mr Craig's article makes absolute sense. Those people who choose to drink excessively and need the services of the NHS should be sent a bill for their treatment. For years, if one was invilved in a road traffic accident, they would be sent a bill be the Hospital, in my time about £35.00. This was usually passed to their insurance company for payment. What is wrong in the insurance industry coming up with a policy for people who like a drink and who may or may not drink to excess? That way there would be something in writing for the policy, making it creditable.
Sorry, Mr Craig, your suggetion about pensioners continuing to pay National Insurance has to be a non-starter. Consider the University fees debacle, the powers that be would just raise contributions each year.
The last paragraph of Mr Craig's article makes absolute sense. Those people who choose to drink excessively and need the services of the NHS should be sent a bill for their treatment. For years, if one was invilved in a road traffic accident, they would be sent a bill be the Hospital, in my time about £35.00. This was usually passed to their insurance company for payment. What is wrong in the insurance industry coming up with a policy for people who like a drink and who may or may not drink to excess? That way there would be something in writing for the policy, making it creditable. Sorry, Mr Craig, your suggetion about pensioners continuing to pay National Insurance has to be a non-starter. Consider the University fees debacle, the powers that be would just raise contributions each year. A.Keat
  • Score: 0

5:04pm Sun 31 Aug 14

kimcrawley says...

Frank Field is a wonderful example of the malign influence of privatisation within the NHS. Most pensioners have paid NI contributions for nearly 50 years. Those contributions were to cover the cost of treatment irrespective of the lifestyle they led. The drinkers are making an excessive contribution to the treasury by paying the highest rates of duty in Western Europe.
Frank Field and the pompous ex Fire Chief ( Tell us how much your pension is worth compared to the average fire fighter ) should shut up and think about what they are proposing. What next making overweight people pay because they have eaten too many doughnuts?
Yet another example of those with a gilded retirement trying to squeeze money from people without the means. If you want to make pensioners pay NI contributions and for treatment why not means test it and set the qualifying level for people who receive less than £15k income per year. Oh look the pompous prats both get far in excess of that. To the Fire Chief: Shut up and go back to Trumpton. To Frank Field: Resign and fight your seat as an independent, you should be thrown out of the Labour Party, you are a disgrace trying to victimise the sector of society who have already made their contribution. Go after the thieving bankers who wrecked the economy. They should not be allowed off the hook by implementing this sort of twaddle.
Frank Field is a wonderful example of the malign influence of privatisation within the NHS. Most pensioners have paid NI contributions for nearly 50 years. Those contributions were to cover the cost of treatment irrespective of the lifestyle they led. The drinkers are making an excessive contribution to the treasury by paying the highest rates of duty in Western Europe. Frank Field and the pompous ex Fire Chief ( Tell us how much your pension is worth compared to the average fire fighter ) should shut up and think about what they are proposing. What next making overweight people pay because they have eaten too many doughnuts? Yet another example of those with a gilded retirement trying to squeeze money from people without the means. If you want to make pensioners pay NI contributions and for treatment why not means test it and set the qualifying level for people who receive less than £15k income per year. Oh look the pompous prats both get far in excess of that. To the Fire Chief: Shut up and go back to Trumpton. To Frank Field: Resign and fight your seat as an independent, you should be thrown out of the Labour Party, you are a disgrace trying to victimise the sector of society who have already made their contribution. Go after the thieving bankers who wrecked the economy. They should not be allowed off the hook by implementing this sort of twaddle. kimcrawley
  • Score: 2

8:50am Mon 1 Sep 14

politepanda says...

Let's not stop in refusing treatment to those who drink to excess. What about those who overeat - those who are deemed not to have had enough exercise in years gone by? Those who were going through stressful times and never applied for assistance to alleviate the stress - those who were involved in extreme sports leading to difficulties in mobility in later life.
Or simply insist ANYONE who is able to afford to retire provide insurance for ALL medical requirements?
Job done. Freeing up millions to ensure better treatment/equipment etc for those remaining on NHS lists. Oh, wait - that's not what we do, is it??
But how good will we all feel when the millions saved can provide the NHS Managers with another round of pay rises and Local County councillors with another big chunk toward expenses. Lucky us!!
Kim C is right - let's look to those who OWE millions - rather than choke those who've already paid their dues.
Let's not stop in refusing treatment to those who drink to excess. What about those who overeat - those who are deemed not to have had enough exercise in years gone by? Those who were going through stressful times and never applied for assistance to alleviate the stress - those who were involved in extreme sports leading to difficulties in mobility in later life. Or simply insist ANYONE who is able to afford to retire provide insurance for ALL medical requirements? Job done. Freeing up millions to ensure better treatment/equipment etc for those remaining on NHS lists. Oh, wait - that's not what we do, is it?? But how good will we all feel when the millions saved can provide the NHS Managers with another round of pay rises and Local County councillors with another big chunk toward expenses. Lucky us!! Kim C is right - let's look to those who OWE millions - rather than choke those who've already paid their dues. politepanda
  • Score: 2

10:02am Mon 1 Sep 14

kimcrawley says...

Well said PP. If we apply the same rigour to Craig's statements and apply it to him we can have: As a fire chief Craig took early retirement on a huge pension after wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers money within the fire service . Not nice is it Mr Craig. Stick to the fire service your interpretation of what is wrong with the NHS is economically illiterate. Remember it was Cameron who said "No more top down reorganisation within the NHS." and then went on to do it. The irony of somebody receiving a huge public service pension telling the rest of us we should pay more is beyond belief. Perhaps Mr Craig could write for Pravda in the future.
Well said PP. If we apply the same rigour to Craig's statements [£20 billion spent on drinkers] and apply it to him we can have: As a fire chief Craig took early retirement on a huge pension after wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers money within the fire service [Devizes combined centre]. Not nice is it Mr Craig. Stick to the fire service your interpretation of what is wrong with the NHS is economically illiterate. Remember it was Cameron who said "No more top down reorganisation within the NHS." and then went on to do it. The irony of somebody receiving a huge public service pension telling the rest of us we should pay more is beyond belief. Perhaps Mr Craig could write for Pravda in the future. kimcrawley
  • Score: 0

3:02pm Tue 2 Sep 14

Don Jones says...

The old 'they brought it on thehmselves' argument opens up a right can of worms. Where do you stop? Smoking? Drinking? Sporting injuries? Cycling to work? Overeating? Illegal drugs? Making a daft mistake? I would guess we all have our own boundaries and thoughts on the matter.

And terms such as 'binge drinking don't help much. According to the NHS and National Office of Statistics, a bloke drinking more than 3 pints of 6X in a session is binge drinking.

If we want a health service that's free at the point of delivery, we have to fund it on that basis. If not, we're due a big rethink.
The old 'they brought it on thehmselves' argument opens up a right can of worms. Where do you stop? Smoking? Drinking? Sporting injuries? Cycling to work? Overeating? Illegal drugs? Making a daft mistake? I would guess we all have our own boundaries and thoughts on the matter. And terms such as 'binge drinking don't help much. According to the NHS and National Office of Statistics, a bloke drinking more than 3 pints of 6X in a session is binge drinking. If we want a health service that's free at the point of delivery, we have to fund it on that basis. If not, we're due a big rethink. Don Jones
  • Score: 1

10:36pm Tue 2 Sep 14

kimcrawley says...

We could fund it easily if we were not giving Branson and his chums twice as much in subsidies than all of BR for just operating a crappy train service. Or how about the billions we gave the bankers for ruining our economy, or reducing the housing benefit bill because Tesco and other crap employers only provide part time jobs (To save on employers NI contributions). Equally we could stop buy to let Landlords charging more in rent than a mortgage would cost. A real 'free market economy' does not require the level of subsidy required by the so called entrepreneurs. who manage to avoid paying any tax by hiding their wealth off shore. There is nothing wrong with the NHS it provides one of the most cost effective services in the world. It's a myth propagated by the supporters of privatisation. They don't want a better health service they just want more tax payers subsidies for providing rubbish service. Not one single privatised body has improved, on the contrary they are taking more and more of our money for providing less. The real crisis is the con trick perpetrated by the likes of Balfour Beatty, just look around at the mess it's getting worse by the month.
We could fund it easily if we were not giving Branson and his chums twice as much in subsidies than all of BR for just operating a crappy train service. Or how about the billions we gave the bankers for ruining our economy, or reducing the housing benefit bill because Tesco and other crap employers only provide part time jobs (To save on employers NI contributions). Equally we could stop buy to let Landlords charging more in rent than a mortgage would cost. A real 'free market economy' does not require the level of subsidy required by the so called entrepreneurs. who manage to avoid paying any tax by hiding their wealth off shore. There is nothing wrong with the NHS it provides one of the most cost effective services in the world. It's a myth propagated by the supporters of privatisation. They don't want a better health service they just want more tax payers subsidies for providing rubbish service. Not one single privatised body has improved, on the contrary they are taking more and more of our money for providing less. The real crisis is the con trick perpetrated by the likes of Balfour Beatty, just look around at the mess it's getting worse by the month. kimcrawley
  • Score: 2

10:40pm Tue 2 Sep 14

kimcrawley says...

I see that that the tory trolls have been voting but are too frightened to make a comment. Are you worried about losing pensioners' votes? Come on tell us what you are going to do.
I see that that the tory trolls have been voting but are too frightened to make a comment. Are you worried about losing pensioners' votes? Come on tell us what you are going to do. kimcrawley
  • Score: 0

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