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All Your Donations are Belong to Us

It is a truth universally acknowledged by decent people that the shower of utter gits that make-up the British Government are so low that they scuttle on ragged claws along the bottom of an abysmal trench in the Pacific. That’s pretty low but just when you thought they couldn’t sink any further they start using those reagged claws to dig.

Hundreds of millions of pounds of charity donations to hospitals are to be “nationalised” under an NHS accounting change, which critics say will make it easier to slash health budgets.

Ministers are imposing new rules on NHS charities requiring all donations — including those to specialist children and cancer units, local fundraising campaigns, teaching hospitals and local community trusts — to be listed on a hospital’s balance sheet.

The Charities Commission says that this is “wholly inappropriate” because combining the trust and charity accounts will jeopardise the charity’s autonomy and discourage donations. About £330 million was given to 300 NHS charities in the year to June 2008, and they control an estimated £2 billion of assets. A spokeswoman for the Commission said: “The Charity Commission does not agree with the interpretation of the accounting rules in the Department of Health letter to NHS bodies. We are currently engaging with the Department on this matter.”

Charities also fear that the change, due to come into effect in April, will be used as a smokescreen to hide cuts in health spending, with ministers reducing funds for organisations such as children’s hospitals that have successful charitable arms.

Can you imagine a more heinous act than stealing money that people donated of their own free will from a children’s hospital? It’s the sort of act that would have piqued the conscience of Hitler or Saddam – if only briefly. It is a poke in the eye with a pointed stick to all those generous souls who run marathons in deep-sea diving suits and do similar antics. They thought they were doing it to help get an CAT scanner when it turns out they’ll soon be doing it to shore up the thoroughly fucked finances of a country that is rapidly heading to banana republic status without the climate to grow that fine soft-fruit.

Whilst I agree with the take of the Charities Commission that this is cutting NHS funding on the sly there is something else much more important going on here. It is outright theft of course but it’s also a deliberate undermining of civil society of which charities – real charities – not the quangoized abominations that now predominate – are a vital part. Just up the road from me is the Christie Hospital in Manchester. It is one of Europe’s leading cancer hospitals. It has a massive fund-raising scheme supported by the folks round here (yes, I’ve put a few pennies in the tin on occasion in the hope I need never use the facility) and organisations such as Manchester United Football Club. That the tentacles of government are going to grab that cash makes me sick. And grab it they will for this is but the thin end of a slippery slope and all this money will, via smoke and mirrors, end-up in the central money pit never to be seen again*.

It really is another nail in the coffin of a once free nation because fundamentally it’s saying that Whitehall ought to control everything. Forget the time, effort and money given freely by the people of the North West of England** or the consultants (what do they know?) spending it on things they feel they need to improve patient treatment because politicians and civil servants know best.

When I was a kid the local authority declared itself a “Nuclear Free Zone” and blocked the efforts of the local hospital to obtain a nuclear magnetic resonance scanner in their profound ignorance of physics***. This despite the money having been raised charitably. Yes, the money was there but that pesky N-word blocked it. Until some wiley chap at the hospital got it through by calling it a “magnetic resonance scanner”. Same thing of course. I wonder if that’s why it’s called MRI rather than NMR these days?

That is the pig-headed mentality of the people who will now be in charge of such funds. They’ll probably insist it’s all green or something: “Sorry sir, the X-ray is cancelled – not enough wind for the turbine you see…”

And if you doubt the sheer mind-bending incompetence of these people read this.

At this festive time of the year it is enough to make Santa Claus himself vomit with rage.

*Remember all that hoo-hah about the LHC at CERN possibly creating a black hole – Whitehall got there well before the particle physicists.
**If you can think of a more worthy cause than a cancer hospital please let me know…
***Or much of anything else for that matter.

7 Comments

  1. This is wrong in so many ways it is hard to know where to start. Donars will no doubt reduce their donations. The charities may not see a point in working so hard if anything they raise is basically discounted for in the next funding round. In the end either services to the public get further reduced or the cost of providing the same level of services increases! A typical outcome for statism of the worst kind – nationalisation!
    Outrageous.

  2. Paul Marks says:

    This (and all the rest of the bad stuff) was inevitable when the hospitals were stolen back in 1948.

    The weird thing is that it has taken so long.

  3. Nick M says:

    Oddly enough Paul this is specifically over-turning part of the act that set-up the NHS in ’48.

  4. Pogo says:

    “I wonder if that’s why it’s called MRI rather than NMR these days?”

    Yes. The “Nuclear” bit frightened the patients as well. :-)

  5. I don’t think it’s quite right to call this stealing. If the charitable donations were being taken by the government and used for something else, that would indeed be stealing. But this is just our old friend targetted welfare. Which is stupid, and is stealing (from taxpayers in the first place to pay for the welfare), but is not stealing from the hospitals in question.

    The answer is to do what “cheating” welfare claimants do. Accept (in this case) charitable donations on the quiet, but just not tell the government about it.

    Which is not good, I do agree. But merely having your state-bestowed income withheld if you seem able to obtain it by other (and morally superior) means is not quite what I understand by stealing. To talk like this is to regard government micro-spending cuts as stealing, which I absolutely do not.

    I suspect that the experience of this new regime may cause many hitherto devout believers in nationalisation to start wondering: Hey, what if we could pay for the entire hospital with voluntary donations, and tell the government to take a hike?

    And that is good.

  6. NickM says:

    You make a good point Brian but…

    The NHS is the most sacred of sacred cows. Recall in 1998 the Mint issued a 50p coin in honour of it’s fiftieth anniversary. To all practical intents and porpoises it is beyond the political. The very idea that there are other, better, healthcare models kicking around is modern blasphemy.

    Moreover, the fundamental point is that the pros (and I admit the NHS carries some dead wood here but it also has some excellent doctors, nurses and allied trades) say they want an x and folks raise cash for that x and I shall be buggered if I want utter tools like Andy Burnham deciding that what they really need is a y instead.

    Your final point is right but I think, in the context, overly idealistic. In anycase this is about government grabbing those voluntary contributions.

    I have an idea… A very simple one. We scrap GPs as they are. We scrap prescription charges and charge instead to see a doctor. And in most cases the doctor we see is a specialist from the start. None of this “Gatekeeper” nonsense. This can happen. My wife had an iffy mole and she was seen by a guy who has a strong interest in dermatology. That was pure luck because he happens to be a partner in the local GP practice. By which I mean if she’d fallen on the ice and bust an elbow she would have lucked-out because they don’t have anyone (to my knowledge) who’s into orthopeadics.

    And this model would work. It does for dental stuff. It does when the cat has to be taken to the vet though that costs beyond the financial. He doesn’t like going in the box and he has both claws and teeth.

    An ex of mine broke an ankle in London. When she returned to the USA she saw straight-off a sports-injury specialist without having to see a GP. Well the woman was a GP but she specialised. That’s how they worked it at this clinic in Atlanta. You booked an appointment and saw someone who was into whatever seemed to be wrong with you. So if it was high blood pressure you saw a cardioligist without the rigmarole of being refferred.

    Frankly I’m beginning to come round to the traditional Chinese model. You pay a doctor whilst you are well and when it goes wrong they swing into action.

  7. Andrew Duffin says:

    “I wonder if that’s why it’s called MRI rather than NMR these days? ”

    Yes, that is exactly why it’s called that.

    Anything N is too frightening for the ignorant masses*, apparently.

    * Masses above 92, that would be. Ha ha.

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