Thursday 11 July 2013

The NHS Organ Grab

What are the three largest employers in the world?

Well, there is the army of the People's Republic of China.  It serves a country that holds vast territory, has extensive borders and a population of a billion people.

Then there is the Indian National Railway.  Public transportation and infrastructure for a country that holds vast territory and has a population of a billion people.

Then in third place there is the NHS.  It looks after the health - supposedly - of a medium sized island nation with a population of around 62.7 million people at the time of writing.

There's something wrong with this picture, isn't there?

Don't get me wrong.  For all of my libertarian principles, I quite like the NHS.  Not for what it is, but for what it could be.

I have had to make use of their services on occasion.  I don't mind paying taxes for an efficient healthcare system that is free of charge at point of use.  The trouble is that the NHS is not efficient; if the money spent on management were instead to be spent on front line staff and material, then it could be much better than it is.

But what makes things worse is that politics has crept into our national healthcare provider, as well as complaisance.

Smokers face the greatest discrimination, followed by the obese.  If you are in either - or both - of these groups, then the NHS will look down its nose at you.  They may even refuse to treat you - and it won't be long before they refuse to treat any illness caused by smoking.  Smoker?  Need new lungs?  Forget it.

And this is part of what bothers me about the proposal to create a system whereby, upon your death, your organs will be harvested unless you have specifically opted-out of the scheme.

ya bastards
Keep the noise down, sir.  You're distracting the surgeon.
I appreciate that there is a shortage of donors.  I also appreciate that those who are vocal in their opposition will make sure that they opt-out.  I understand - I really do.

Things is, there are four very good reasons why I don't like this in the slightest.

Firstly, as I have said, if you are a smoker, there is a good chance that you will be turned down as an organ recipient.  As an organ donor, however, you will be acceptable;  Professor James Neuberger, associate medical director at NHS Blood and Organ Transplant has said on record that "...organs from people who smoked and drank regularly could also still be used despite their lifestyles."

So we could be faced with a system in which many of us could be considered fit to donate but not fit to receive.  Regardless of the fact that the annual tax revenue on tobacco is several times the annual NHS budget, your lifestyle choice makes you a second class citizen.

Secondly, as the linked article states in the headline, those who do not opt out will get preferential treatment. Quelle surprise, there, but it's the fundamental lack of respect for the wishes of those concerned that bothers me.

So, if your lifestyle is less than healthy, we'll take but we won't give.  And if you opt-out of giving, you are less likely to receive.

Thirdly, I have little confidence that those who opt-out will have their wishes respected.  Just what mechanism will be in place to ensure that, when a patient dies (especially if it's in A&E following an accident) that they won't automatically be turned into Soylent Green have their organs removed?  Wouldn't be the first time.

Finally, I really do not like the precedent it sets.  If your body is the property of the state when you die, then it doesn't take much for that to be extended to the state owning your body whilst you are alive.  And if that seems far-fetched, consider Stalinist Russia, modern day China, or even Britain at the beginning of the Twentieth Century; how many men were conscripted and sent to be shot, shelled and gassed in the trenches of the First World War?

It is hideously ironic that many people would embrace this sort of statist vassaldom as being progess.

Harvested from Anonymong.  Well, he didn't opt-out, did he?

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