The Plastic Hippo

July 27, 2013

Cost effective

Filed under: Health,Politics,Rights,Society — theplastichippo @ 2:30 am

Even given the levels of coalition government cruelty, any suggestion that the millionaires in cabinet are actively pursuing a policy of infanticide is as ridiculous as the notion of selling human plasma stocks to venture capitalists or the Church of England competing with Wonga loan sharks.

Tory ministers might be greedy, bigoted, heartless bastards and their Libdem fetish slaves will never grow another pair or, indeed, a spine but it would be madness to risk the lives of babies for the sake of bogus deficit reduction. That idea is so preposterous that you might as well invent anti-coalition propaganda stories suggesting that the government will charge £25 for a routine check-up by your GP or that the Home Office intend to drive vans around multicultural communities emblazoned with the words “Go home or face arrest”. This nonsense is completely laughable; the British public simply would not stand for anything so totalitarian. Oh, hang on a minute. No, surely not.

During a very good week to bury very bad news about babies, our government has decided not to introduce a vaccination programme to protect children from meningitis B. Of all the health challenges facing very young children, meningitis B must be one of the most terrifying. It is a bacterial infection that can cause inflammation of the brain and spinal cord and the majority of the almost 2,000 cases that present each year are children below the age of five. One in ten die a painful death and one in four of those that survive endure brain damage or the loss of limbs. A vaccine called Bexsero has been developed by one of those huge humanitarian pharmaceutical companies that would never dream of putting profit before saving lives and, having taken “expert” advice, the Department of Health has concluded that vaccination against this horrible disease would not be “cost effective.”

Clearly, no health minister would take such a decision without ensuring an alibi was in place before being dragged out of the commons and lynched on Westminster Bridge by an angry populous. With knowledge of health provision that extends only to how much money they can make by flogging off the NHS to their business chums, the likes of Jeremy Hunt need to summon up “expert” advice to cover their tracks and be absolved of any responsibility. In the case of the meningitis B vaccine, the “independent expert advice” came from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. The beauty of this is that the general public haven`t a bloody clue who sits on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and makes the decisions that put a monetary price on the lives of children. Accountancy and bean counting are not covered by the Hippocratic Oath and instead of pledging allegiance to Apollo, Asclepius, Hygieia and Panacea, faceless and well paid medical doctors and academics swear an oath to Novartis, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and the rest of Big Pharma. We may never know who these “independent experts” are or what could possibly influence their deliberations but it seems that the wealthier they become, the more they fail to remember why they became doctors and forget that medicine is intended to cure illness and protect life rather than serve corrupt government and big business.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation huffed and puffed about a lack of evidence and uncertainty of the effectiveness of Bexsero against meningitis B and talked vaguely about further clinical trials. But their report to government gave the game away by stating:

“On the basis of the available evidence, routine infant or toddler immunisation using Bexsero is highly unlikely to be cost effective at any vaccine price based on the accepted threshold for cost effectiveness used in the UK and could not be recommended.”

It is tempting to adopt the mannerisms of James Robertson Justice playing the arrogant surgeon Sir Lancelot Spratt in the early Doctor films. “You there at the back. Have you got it into your thick skull? Yes, yes, yes, it`s likely to work but highly unlikely to make any money. Move along, next case Matron.” It seems likely that the members of the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation screamed blue murder when some self-publicising quack suggested that the MMR vaccine was linked to autism and in so doing questioned their professionalism and medical reputations. Now the faceless, unknown guardians of immunology are counting the pennies and pounds rather that counting the unusually high rates of infant mortality in the UK.

The selling off of the NHS is being achieved by withdrawing resources until the system fails. The ministers and senior medical practitioners who feel that treatment for free is abhorrent can then blame the NHS and demand privatisation. These “reforms” are continually dressed up as offering patients “choice” of hospital, doctor, and treatment. The reality is that if you can afford to pay, you might have a chance of not dying. Perhaps the parents of the next child to fall victim of meningitis B should demand treatment from one or more of the doctors on the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation and in particular the members of the Meningococcal Sub-committee who decided that the life of a child is not “cost effective”?

In a week that finally saw a Big Pharma company admitting to bribing doctors to use their overpriced drugs, it looks like the unwarranted attacks on the NHS have succeeded. I bet there is no shortage of Bexsero at Kensington Palace.

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