The Sunday Times and healthcare

The Sunday Times did not tell all the story in their page two article “Cameron’s MPs want more private health care”. They reported that they “contacted all Tory backbenchers to ask whether they had private health insurance”. They say “Most refused to answer” but name four who said they had insurance. Why I wonder did they not include in their story those of us who said, as I did, we do not have private health insurance? Every word of the article strains to set up Labour’s anti Tory story on health, without the evidence to back it up. Their only quote came from a Conservative MP who is retiring and not fighting the next election, and that quote merely said we need a debate.

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21 Comments

  1. alan jutson
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    I would have thought the headline.

    John Redwood supports the NHS, and rejects Private Health Insurance for himself, would be the bigger story.

    But this headline would not support the image they want to portray of you.

    As said many times before, the Media try to dictate news stories, even when there is no news to cover.

    Its just like printing disclaimers, the original story is all over the front page, often the disclaimer is a paragraph in small print, on an obscure page.

    The media is failing the people.

  2. Simon D
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    1. Journalists are living in the past. Who, apart from the media and New Labour spin doctors, really cares about whether or not MPs have private health insurance?

    2. Many large companies actually pay the cost of private health insurance for senior employees.

    3. If I am treated in a private hospital I am doing the NHS a favour by saving them the cost of my treatment and drugs and releasing a bed for someone else.

    4. Why is it legitimate for MPs to own an expensive car yet be treated as a pariahs if they take out health insurance?

    5. The NHS is not perfect and is not the envy of the world – Singapore holds that title with better outcomes at half the cost. The NHS is important and UK Plc’s biggest employer. Is it too much to expect a grown up debate about how we can use the vast amount of money that we pour into the NHS in a more effective way. Or is the media so debased and trivialised that such a discussion can never happen?

    • Pete
      Posted August 24, 2009 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      “Many large companies actually pay the cost of private health insurance for senior employees.”

      True, but I wonder how much of a good thing that is!

      My wife and I lost company cover on retirement and now find the cost prohibitive as it’s age related and we’d be treated as new entrants – I am pretty sure that, had we paid our own premiums throughout, it would be a lower cost now…

      • alan jutson
        Posted August 24, 2009 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        Pete

        Think you will find Premiums go up with age no matter how long you have been a member, unless you are part of a group where premiums work on average age of the group, and that group age stays the same as people leave and join.

        Do not forget restrictions on treatment for past/existing conditions are often not covered.

        Limits on what catagory of Hospital you are allowed to use are often imposed.

        Some policies only cover for a set period of treatment or cost, leaving you to fund the difference.

        In short the higher their risk the more you pay, same as any other form of insurance.

        • Man in a Shed
          Posted August 24, 2009 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

          I wonder if any state employees have private health care as part of their remuneration package ?

          I wonder if Times journalist have private health care in their remuneration packages ?

          Nothing wrong with either of course – except the hypocrisy involved with Labour and the politically motivated journalists.

  3. David Hannah
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    What’s wrong with private medical insurance? I don’t see why those who do not avail themselves of the services of state-owned monopolies should be depicted as pariahs. Quite the opposite I would have thought. It is of course in the legitimate public interest to find out whether MPs partake in the system they foist on everybody else.

    • Phil C
      Posted August 24, 2009 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

      The only thing wrong with private medical insurance is that like all insurance it is about managing risk, and therefore entirely inappropriate for lifelong healthcare. Fine for unexpected one-offs, like broken bones and acute episodes, but for chronic conditions (of which old age is almost the prime example) and, increasingly, anything for which you have a genetic or lifestyle susceptibility, forget it. The premiums, if cover isn’t actually refused, approach pay as you go prices.

      The reform the NHS needs is to make its cover (comprehensive, non-discriminatory, and free when needed) available from more providers than just the one. Treasury funds should be portable to them all, and flat rate topping-up permitted by their subscribers. At least then people currently paying private medical insurance would get full NHS cover but supplemented. The health sector gets more funding; but this way it gets competition too, improving efficiency, value and is more responsive to its customers.

  4. Frugal Dougal
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    A strange stance for a newspaper owned by Murdoch, who’s challenging the right of his online competitor, bbc.co.uk, to have a website. Maybe he doesn’t know what Mary Whitehouse expressed so forcefully that Harold Wilson would order her letters be “lost” – that the BBC is in truth an arm of the organisation he is spinning for, the Labour Government?

    • Freddy
      Posted August 24, 2009 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, can you cite any sources forthat ?

  5. Acorn
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Since I stopped reading newspapers, it is interesting to stand back and watch a nation being demoralised and divided by its own media. The advent of twenty four hour, so called, news programmes, basically, malicious gossip channels, has made it worse. Unfortunately, a large proportion of this nation believes it.

    And it is not just news based programmes. As was said previously on this site, nobody asks the question, just where does Bianca (Eastenders), get her money from?

    Anyway, getting back to the Lefties other attempts to destroy the nation, see the following video. This is one of the better theories of how the credit crunch started. This is a Columbia University economist, invited to teach lawyers at Boston University.

    http://www.bu.edu/law/events/audio-video/playback.html?instance=buck20090610&stream=2ndspeakerjune10Morin

  6. TomTom
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    British newspapers serve an ever-dwindling group of fanatics just as TV programmes are quite satisfying withy the sound turned off. Both are screeching and squawking at their audience in a raucous bid for attention, and both are losing market share at an accelerating pace

  7. Mike Stallard
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    I fully understand how the Labour Party wants to win the next election by playing “Tory Toffs”.
    But that the once “Thunderer” Times, now one of Rupert Murdoch’s organs, should support them is very, very sad. When Mr Blair took office, the Times was reliable and a lot of my respectable friends took it. Now they still do. Sad. The Guardian and BBC give a much fairer picture of leftie thingies.
    Second: this game is terribly dangerous for Socialist people who are living off the fat of the land. I wonder if, following the example of Shirley Williams, the Labour Grandees all go private? I’ll bet that, as with the education system, it is one rule for the infantile plebs and quite another for the working class (short “a” please) brothers and sisters, who all go private when it comes down to it.
    The Mail delights in stories like this – about Mr Miliband having a rich holiday in Rome, for instance.

  8. DennisA
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    If I had the money I would have private health insurance without question.

  9. NickW
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    We hear a lot about the failure of the benefit culture and the millions on Incapacity Benefit who are kept off the unemployment register.

    It has not occurred to anyone to squarely lay the blame for those incapable of working on the inadequacies of the NHS.

    Our population is getting sicker and an increasing proportion are unable to work through ill health. Isn’t that in itself a serious indictment of the NHS which needs to be fully investigated?

    How many are transient claimants on waiting lists for effective treatment?

    How many claimant’s have been incapacitated by mistakes, delays, and refusal of treatment?

    What role should the NHS be expected to play in reducing the numbers of Incapacity Benefit Claimants?

    Isn’t this what a State run Health Service should be all about?

    • SJB
      Posted August 24, 2009 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

      I was staggered to learn that the UK has an estimated 400,000 heroin and crack cocaine addicts, 350,000 are on benefits.
      (Hansard, 8 June 2009, Col 735W) http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/cm090608/text/90608w0012.htm
      We seem to have become inured to drug addiction in our society.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted August 25, 2009 at 6:47 am | Permalink

      Actually, the NHS is partly to blame, I quite agree.
      But isn’t the real blame on the fraudsters themselves? These are the people who set out to skive, who give up the struggle and dob in their mates, who use the health service as a means to get everlasting life, who “know their rights”.
      “Remember it is not what can I do for my country that matters. It is what my country can do for me.”

  10. no one
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    NickW is correct

    To say nothing of the folk who loose their freelance customers or other means of earning because the NHS wastes so much time for routine stuff

    Try being diabetic, the routine appointments to see GP, nurses, retinal scans, dieticians, consultants, and so on and so on

    How many appointments are supposed to be at 9.00 (often everyone is told to turn up 1st thing with no intention from the hospital of seeing them all then) and many people with early appointments are still there and not seen until 5.00 or 6.00 in the afternoon, I’ve even seen people wait all day to be told “sorry you will have to come back another day” and this is for dieticians not a surgeon who has had to rush off to an emergency!

    the NHS like to rubbish its patients for no shows at appointments, quite the reverse the service the customers/patients get is appauling, try ringing the appointment number and listen to how they talk down to you

    to say nothing of the appointments that are sent by mistake to the wrong address, all of the student appointments released at the end of term (when all the students will be going away), and other such wheezes as corrupt ways of managing the lists down without actually treating anyone! Coventry NHS stand up and take your bow but you are not the only ones!

    to say nothing of the surgeon who says “your GP is correct you do need an operation for trigger finger, but you also need the same operation for 2 other fingers, and I am not prepared to do one finger on its own as multiple operations will be more risky, please go back to your GP and get referred for the other fingers too” pushing that patient right back to the beginning of a real world 12 months wait!

    so yea the NHS has a lot to answer for

  11. no one
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    i meant to say try getting a job with trigger finger in 3 fingers, something which can be solved simply by a quick operation, and yet we have folk out of work for long periods for stuff like this

  12. Frugal Dougal
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    Freddy, sorry for taking so long to get back to you. Here’s a Guardian article reviewing the BBC drama about Whitehouse and reporting the lost letters as an allegation:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2006/jul/21/channel4.broadcasting

    I will look for the soource for the BBC being an arm of Government, but it’ss have to be tomorrow, as I’ve got something else to write right now. – FD

  13. James Sutherland
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    The media have been trying to manufacture a story of this sort for days now – the other part of this non-story was a poll of MPs to gauge support for tax breaks for people paying private health insurance premiums (an idea I wholeheartedly support, but of course to Leftmedia this represents heresy against the Church of NHS) and implying there is some sort of significance to the fact Tory MPs supported it while Labour ones opposed it. No surprise there, the latter would tax oxygen if they thought they could, while the former are generally bright enough to grasp that this would be good for healthcare provision in the UK overall, including for those who rely on the NHS for treatment – but I somehow doubt this was the message the media wanted to convey.

    I’m waiting for these media outlets to apply the same logic elsewhere and do hatchet jobs on all MPs banking with banks other than Northern Rock…

  14. Clare
    Posted August 25, 2009 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    I am astonished at how defensive your blog sounds. Private health insurance is not sin, a guilty secret to be found out, it’s a choice that we should be free to make. Debate is sorely needed over the balance of public/private provision in our future economically straightend circumstances.

    Reply: The blog is not trying to be defensive. It is seeking to show you just how crude the spin is, and the lengths they go to to try to “trip up” Tories. As far as the Labour media are concerned, private health insurance is a sin.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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