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Thursday, 8 February, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 8 Feb 07, 06:11 PM

clarke203.jpgCharles Clarke: time to pay for health and education? China's munificence in Africa; and John Simpson on Jo'burg violence.

Comment on Thursday's programme.

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  • 1.
  • At 06:51 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Colin Chamberlain wrote:

Re CHARLES Clarke on paying for edukayshon and record level of abortions......

.....WELCOME TO THE BLAIR-BROWN inheritance. To paraphrase a well-remembered song: " Things can only get much worse, can only get much worse..... "

  • 2.
  • At 07:02 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Colin Chamberlain wrote:

Re Charles Clarke on paying for 'ealth and edikayshon, to paraphrase a well remembered refrain:" Things can only get much worse ....."
Blair came into office with the hubris of the Dome and leaves it with Iraq and the Olympics. He should be grateful that his pension is not contributory and dependent on the parsimony of his next door neighbour.

  • 3.
  • At 07:51 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Manjit wrote:

Looking forward to hearing Charles Clarke's views on this subject I’ve got alot of time for him.

I think the notion of paying charges for some aspects of health care and education services is something that should be debated more openly. Is there not a case for charging those people who use A&E services on a Friday and Saturday evening? Is there not a case for charging each time you visits the GP like they do in France? It would surely stop pointless visits for the flu. Let's face it all the political parties are going to have to come up with some imaginative solutions to the upcoming funding problem for public services. Some may argue cut waste but the Government is already attempting to find savings, also how many civil servants can you remove before it begins to effect the service that is delivered to the public? Some will argue that scrapping unpopular schemes such as ID cards will solve problems but that is only going to save a few billion. In my view we are going to be hearing alot more about this in the coming years, perhaps not at the General Election because none of the parties will want to discuss it but post election it will be on the agenda when public finances are tight.

(What are the odds that Kirsty Wark spends most of the interview asking about the Blair-Brown relationship and if Clarke will stand for the leadership rather than the substance of the speech? Shame really)

  • 4.
  • At 10:51 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Stephen wrote:

Perhaps Charles could be taken more seriously if he questioned the con trick of PFI...something that is bankrupting the NHS in England, but not in Wales or Scotland where the NHS is in better health because they don't use PFI.

  • 5.
  • At 10:52 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Philip wrote:

Great to have a debate on this, but I am concerned when the comparison is with NHS Dentistry - hardly an unalloyed success. It is right to face up to this challenge, and I might be willing to agree to some limited pay-as-you-go.

But I know that it would scare the living daylights out of my retired parents, and give them sleepless nights. One could argue that it would be, to use that dreadful word, 'targeted', but the targets are often missed, because older people hate the form-filling hurdles to qualify.

  • 6.
  • At 10:52 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Ali Abbasi wrote:

I think I am paying enough tax to be covered by the NHS. Isn't it time to spend the taxes on the health service rather than spending it on venturing war in other countries?

  • 7.
  • At 10:54 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Grant wrote:

What we need is instead of oridinary Joe Bloggs paying for health care, we should have a system where if someone commits a crime that involves someone recieving medical care the person who has committed the crime should have to pay for the health care. This would save the health service money and who act as a deterant against crime!

  • 8.
  • At 10:56 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Muride Saricicek wrote:

This is a complete sham, how are the poor people suppose to pay NHS bills, and lets face it, must of us need to use the hospital quite a bit in our lifes. I for one, i'm diabetic, and have been since the age of 12. I've relied on the NHS support, and funding for my medical needs, there is no way i could afford, to pay for the supplies i need, working on a minimum wage, I think you'll find, isn't exactly to be able to buy everything you need.

NHS, get funding from the government, i do not see why we should have to take our money out, and pay for medical needs we have, when the government prints money everyday.

I'm definatly not for paying our medical bills.


We respect the NHS, and they respect the people who pay there wages.

Think about the homeless and poor people. Think about your sons and daughters, and think about if you didn't have a well paying job, and you had 2 diabetic children, would you be able to live life paying for all medical needs, when you're on a mimiumum wage.

Sorry but i most cerainly, object to this.

  • 9.
  • At 10:57 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Tom wrote:

If you want to fund the Health Service, and you're worried about unequal access as some people can afford the charges and some can't, then surely it's simple. Ban private healthcare, take the billions spent on it over the years in taxation that is less easy for the rich to avoid, and don't make the decision on what to charge based on what the treatment is, make it on how rich the patient is. Progressive taxation in the extreme, one might say, but it would work.

  • 10.
  • At 11:00 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Philip wrote:

Great to have a debate on this, but I am concerned when the comparison is with NHS Dentistry - hardly an unalloyed success. It is right to face up to this challenge, and I might be willing to agree to some limited pay-as-you-go.

But I know that it would scare the living daylights out of my retired parents, and give them sleepless nights. One could argue that it would be, to use that dreadful word, 'targeted', but the targets are often missed, because older people hate the form-filling hurdles to qualify.

  • 11.
  • At 11:01 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • mark wrote:

clark,blair and the citizens of the uk/the world have to accept that education, health care and enviromental funding, via taxation, will be an ever increasing burden for all. This is normal and humane. The problem is with goverment spending taxed monies wisely and transparently - as ever.

  • 12.
  • At 11:04 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Ciaran wrote:

Re Charles Clarke on paying for 'ealth and edikayshon, to paraphrase a well remembered refrain:" Things can only get much worse ....."

Charlse Clarke is a pompus baffoon charging for health care and education will achieve nothing but price poorer working class people out of these services.

These same people who initially supported new labour and voted them into power after the dark days of tory power, which many people would regard as one of the worst periods in britain both politically and economically.

New Labour is showing it's true colours as old tory in a red mask, Blair is nothing but a Thatcherite and this out burst from Clarke is further evidence of Labours abandenment of traditional Labour values.

However this suggestion from Clarke should not be taken seriously as he is obvioulsy still hurting from his removal from the cabinet!

  • 13.
  • At 11:05 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

This seems like woolly thinking - we are living healthier lives and for longer. We should be smoking less in the future than now and heart disease apparently may be a thing of the past in the under 65s in the future...

https://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3560671.stm

So do we charge for face transplants? Well, is this a clinical need? I'm not sure there would be a problem with charging for abusive no-show appointments.

This seems like a publicity seeking non-debate - we can afford in my view to fund a comprehensive health service that is free at the point of use.

  • 14.
  • At 11:05 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Jeanne wrote:


Charles Clarke says that we must consider every new advance of medicine and how that will increase the demand on the NHS budget. We hear nothing about taxpayers' money invested in the ever-increasing new developments of military hardware. NOT proper protection for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, but new 'bunker-buster' 'mini-nukes',etc., in Aldermaston's billions-pound budget increases for 'new-generation' nuclear weapons, and the proposed renewal of our nuclear 'deterrent', yet more billions of pounds. Meanwhile, we are on the brink of bombing Iran, because of the (distant) possibility that Iran might eventually possess a nuclear weapon!

  • 15.
  • At 11:05 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Ciaran wrote:

Re CHARLES Clarke on paying for edukayshon and record level of abortions......

Charles Clark is a pompous buffoon.

This outburst is obviously in retaliation to undermine the government due to his dismissal from the cabinet and is an attempt to kick start his long anticipated leadership challenge!

New Labour is a joke, NHS and education charging will achieve nothing except for pricing out the poorer working class people who incidentally won labour the previous elections.

If New Labour did introduce charging for these services it would be yet another example of Labour abandoning their values.

Blair is nothing but a Thatcherite and New Labour is Old Tory in a Red Mask.

  • 16.
  • At 11:07 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • mark wrote:

clark,blair and the citizens of the uk/the world have to accept that education, health care and enviromental funding, via taxation, will be an ever increasing burden for all. This is normal and humane. The problem is with goverment spending taxed monies wisely and transparently - as ever.

  • 17.
  • At 11:07 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Lesley Wade wrote:

Thank goodness at last someone is brave enough to suggest we might not be able to afford a health service that continues to be "free at the point of delivery". The world has changed since the inception of the NHS, people are living longer due to developments in health care; people are surviving conditions that previously would have killed them due to developments in health care and babies are being born that would never have been born previously due to developments in health care. People should be entitled to benefit from these developments, whether it is receiving Aricept for their dementia or Herceptin to treat their breast cancer and they should not have to be rationed, but we simply can't afford to provide it free for one and all. I work in the NHS and it is desperately frustrating continually trying to meet a need that just keeps growing and knowing that so much more could be done to help and support people. I don't have the answer but I do believe we need to step back and take an honest look at what and how we fund things. Why not start with prescription charges. I have epilepsy and get free prescriptions. Not just for my epilepsy medication but for ANY medication I am prescribed... why?

  • 18.
  • At 11:07 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Geraldine wrote:

I was appalled by the 'debate' on Newsnight about abortion. The statistics presented included women up to age 24, who were repeatedly referred to as 'children'.

There was barely a suggestion that women having safe and early abortions is preferable to them having unwanted fatherless kids.

And all this talk about binging and TV being all about sex took no consideration of the relentless pursuit by the media - including the BBC - to turn everybody into passive consumers of junk everything: junk entertainment, junk thinking, junk personalities, junk sex.

  • 19.
  • At 11:13 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • mark wrote:

the nhs,like education and the enviroment will continue to be massive burdens for all. it leans on goverment to be transparent and wiser about how our taxes should be spent.

  • 20.
  • At 11:23 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Peter Dewar-Finch wrote:

What rubbish Communist Labour spout through their mouthpiece Charles Clarke. Anyone who can read can look at a book (say Pears) containing a table of governments throughout the 20th century and look at how many Labour governments there have been, and how many Conservative (and Liberal) governments there have been and see quite clearly that not only were Conservative governments in power a lot more than Labour but that growth has generally prospered in the NHS under conservative governments, whereas damage and shrinkage has generally occurred under Labour governments.
As Labour are now trying to abolish parts of the NHS and privatise the remaining bits which they haven’t yet put into an oblivion caused by gross mismanagement it becomes plain, even to the most ardent communist that Labour has been in power for far too long.

  • 21.
  • At 11:32 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Peter Hayward wrote:

The funding crisis for health care is only just beginning and most people are still thinking about 50 years in the past. Charles Clarke is trying to drag us all up to speed and I wish he could succeed but I don't have much hope.

  • 22.
  • At 11:44 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Leslie Forsyth wrote:

Did I really hear a female journalist refer to women who have more than one termination as "repeat offenders?"

Was getting a late middle age man to pontificate about female reproductive rights the best that newsnight could do?

  • 23.
  • At 11:49 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • S MacDonald wrote:

Charles Clarke is a hypocrite. He has been a senior player in NuLab for many years now, so was party to the 'only 24 hours to save the NHS' kind of electioneering that has stifled debate about the NHS.

Any attempt by the Conservatives to address these problems were shouted down, with the connivance of much of the media, together with allegations that 'the Tories wanted to privatise the NHS'.

People like Clarke have encouraged the growth of a semi-religious view of the NHS, but now he has had a Damascene conversion. I suspect this has more to do with sour grapes than an intellectual re-birth.

I don't want the State to run health provision, and I do want the poor and the chronically ill and the elderly to be treated properly - the two are not actually incompatible.

  • 24.
  • At 12:20 AM on 09 Feb 2007,
  • Jennifer wrote:

I found the debate on abortion patronizing and disappointing. As someone with first hand experience of this I was offended at the emphasis on foolish young women getting pregnant in booze crazed abandon. Binge drinking is indeed a serious and endemic problem - the standards for which are set by adults not teenagers. Again all sorts of people have regrettable sexual encounters - a former home secretary had an unexpected child with a married woman.
Young people do need to know more about what an abortion actually involves - this would be a pretty strong contraception. As for 'repeat offenders' (no I don't like that criminalization) did it ever occur to the programme makers that these women might have difficulties in their lives beyond being reckless. The problem of unwanted pregnancies has existed for ever, I merely thank God that I live in a country where I had the right to a safe abortion. I don't have the answer to encouraging safe and responsible sex, but neither did this programme. I am pretty sure it doesn't lie in proscribing daft and poorly conceived judgements. Whilst I quite liked Claire Rainer it would have been nice to hear the view of one of these under 24 'children'. Not all of us are vomiting up alcopops - some subject themselves to newsnight.

  • 25.
  • At 12:42 AM on 09 Feb 2007,
  • steveg wrote:

Same old Labour Government, same old answer to their mismanagement of the economy. Charge the Population again for something we already pay for with income tax and national insurance. They are devising the same 'tactic' with refuse collection, and road taxation per mile. The fact we already pay community charges and road tax, VAT and fuel duty, is not considered by their suggestions. The same applies to Clarke's plan to make us pay again for Education and Health. will they reduce direct taxation or abolish National Insurance Contributions, if they bring in these additional charges?... I don't think so!

  • 26.
  • At 01:00 AM on 09 Feb 2007,
  • Bob Goodall wrote:

Dear Newsnight

I disagree very strongly with Mr Clarkes call for charging for NHS treatment. Perhaps some form of expectation management is underway and his role is to prepare the ground for the Government to announce in a few months some sort of new charges, only not as severe as he is suggesting? Perhaps Newsnight could ask the Government if they are planning new charges for the NHS in a couple of months time?

Part of the problem seems to be that wage demands by doctors and consultants are out of control and they have regained their traditional power. As more money is given to the NHS these people seem to take it.
The answer is not to provide even more money but perhaps follow the advice of the businessman on Newsnight a few months ago who suggested we need much tougher and better management who could rein in the wage demands by doctors. They could also deal more effectively with the pharmaceutical companies who employ the most effective management they can find. The UK pays a lot more for drugs than other countries. We also prescribe far too many as opposed to more appropriate treatments.

We also need to pay the lower paid in the NHS much more. Ie the way to beat MSRA is to pay the cleaners more- and if not already done bring them back into the public workforce.

Healthcare needs also to be far more integrated with for example ways of increasing the physical fitness of the population. More resources need to go towards sports facilities.

Also a hundred years ago we improved the healthcare of the nation by regulating what went into food. The time has come to force for example fast food outlets to at least cook their food in a far healthier way. And some ingredients could even be banned.

We need to tackle obesity as an addiction and perhaps consider using hypothecated taxes to make products that place demands on the healthcare system to pay for the resulting treatment ie smoking, alcohol products should pay for the treatment for those harmed by them. See www.letdoctorssetnhsbudget.org.uk for other ideas

Re this idea of people missing appointments. I wrote to the Department of Health to suggest that their new systems imposed on doctors that made it more difficult to book appointments broke equal opportunities legislation. Ie where public funds are involved everyone had equal access to the service provided. This clearly is not the case with the new system for booking appointments. If you have better technology or for example if you can stand by your phone pushing a redial button on the day you need to see someone you have a better chance of getting an appointment. If on the other hand you are old, or very ill or a commuter it is very much harder to get an appointment.

So the new system imposed on doctors has created a catch-22 situation. If you are fit enough to get an appointment you may be less in need of one than someone who cant get one.

Anyhow I wrote to the DOH and received a very candid reply that it was up to the doctors. They of course say it has being imposed on them. I was worried if I passed the email to someone I would get the civil servant in trouble. But I shouldn’t have worried when I went back to re-read it recently the title of the email was still there but the message was gone. How this has happened I’m not entirely sure but perhaps Newsnight could follow up the equal opps angle and appointments to see your GP.

Just a final thing surely another problem for the NHS is the waste through PFI, for which people like Charles Clarke are responsible.

Best wishes
Bob Goodall


  • 27.
  • At 10:26 AM on 09 Feb 2007,
  • Rebecca wrote:

I found the suggestion by one of the guests discussing abortion deeply worrying: that abortion laws should be "tightened up". I live in Brazil, where abortion is illegal except in a very few cases. The lengths women have to go to to terminate unwanted pregnancies are shocking. The use of medications to provoke a miscarriage when the foetus is already as much as 5 months old is commonplace. The public hospitals have to clear up the after-effects, which include severe blood loss, infection and other gynecological complications. In the absence of regulation, even in the more expensive clinics general anaesthetic is used, putting women's lives at unnecessary risk.

The UK has sensible laws which ensure the rights of women. It would be foolish to imply that any woman embarks lightly on an abortion. If the nation is worried about the levels of abortion, maybe supplementary services should be offered, such as counselling. This would surely be a more effective way to help women in a situation which inevitably causes them great distress and anguish.

  • 28.
  • At 10:28 AM on 09 Feb 2007,
  • bg wrote:

Thank you for highlighting the crime issue in South Africa.

According to South African government statistics, 18,000 people died in crime related violence last year in South Africa - an average of about 50 per day. Compare this to the UN estimates of 30 people dying in Iraq per day.

While the situation in Iraq is regarded as a civil war, the South African government continue to deny that crime is anything more than a "manageable problem".

In fact South Africa is in the midst of a civil war of its own - with society under attack from criminals.

Not for the first time can president Thabo Mbeki be likened to a modern day Nero, protected by his ranks of security guards while his people suffer.

  • 29.
  • At 11:41 AM on 09 Feb 2007,
  • Brian Kelly wrote:

If Charles Clarke made any worthwhile comments on Education, I missed it . On Healthcare his message was nebulous.. Whist we can all see that the NHS isn't working as promised (& we must include dentistry in this) then what are the options.? Whatever Health Sec' Patricia(fantasy)Hewitt says it isn't the service she fantacisies about! "Free at the point of need" is a misnomer. The Health service i remember in the 90s was in some ways superior,. GPs were REAL FAMILY doctors & our local Conquest excellent,you could still access a NHS Dentist . We are where we are , to re-use a much New Labour rant! & unless your lucky postcode wise? you have probably experienced "rationing" of services.. Choice&Book as introduced recently at a cost of £54million over the next 10 yrs is fantasy land (sorry condescending,Patricia) at present 4 hospitals..aspiration is 200!!. All most patients want is the nearest hospital offering most services, free of MRSA etc.At the end of the day I believe we should make a proportinate payment ..but then that throws up the dreaded Means Testing..The government should however, stop knocking private patient care, BUPA etc & encourage it..if that ever ceases its just a bigger burden on the NHS.. not Labours principle? NEW LABOUR isn't Labour.There is so much more to be debated.. hopefully amongst Clinicians without any political affiliations!... if that is possible

  • 30.
  • At 12:20 PM on 09 Feb 2007,
  • peter reddington wrote:

I think someone should tell clark we already pay through the nose for the NHS, and to be honest if the NHS doesn't have enough resources then mr clark needs to look in the mirror as he was one of our illustrious home sec's who just let all and sundry into this country to use the NHS. We who go to work pay enough, Just two words charley boy, one's up, the other one's yours.

  • 31.
  • At 10:41 AM on 11 Feb 2007,
  • Ian Ibbetson wrote:

There is plenty of money available to pay for all clinically needed treatments on the NHS. Unfortunately it is being spent on other things.

1. Abandon the Trident replacement
2. Stop getting involved in illegal, unnecessary and unproductive wars.
3. Stop allowing private compamies to bleed the budget through PFI
4. Stop clinically unnecessary treatments - for instance most fertility treatments. I know two families who have wasted NHS money on this because they thought that they were somehow 'entitled' to have a child whenever they wanted. Both eventually had children without fertility treatment - so every penny spent dealing with their supposed problem was wasted.
5. Continue to increase taxes on tobacco and alcohol.
6. Totally revamp the driving test and associated tuition and actually teach people to drive not just to pass a test. It seems ridiculous to me that 3,000 people a year die on the roads and 300,000 are injured, almost invariably as a result of human error, yet we virtually give away driving licences to 17 year olds (another percieved 'right') and never again challenge their ability to drive safely until they hurt somebody. All drivers should be re-tested regularly.

These are just a few ideas. It is essential that all clinically necessary treatments remain free at the point of use. Debate about 'what type of hip replacement' a patient might opt for is thw way in which this principle is erroded until the argument becomes 'but you already have to pay for xyz, why not pay for the rest?'.

That ultimately is Clarke's destination. He has obviously convinced himself that enough people can now afford private health insurance to make up a majority of the active electorate - and screw the poor.

  • 32.
  • At 03:34 PM on 12 Feb 2007,
  • Ron Clayden wrote:

Is Charles Clarke aware that Australia provide health care by 1.75% deductions from taxable income, plus about £35.00 per month private insurance which is tax deductable. If he wants the public here to pay for the national health service, then I would suggest that the Government reduce the present 11% paid, which has no earnings ceiling in deductions, to 1.75% and make private insurance tax deductable. Then see how he can run the N.H.S. We run it on 87 billion pounds presently, the Australians run it on 21 billion. Too many Chief Executives and Finance Directors Mr Clarke and too high wages for Consultants and Doctors. Let's get down to some reality and take a leaf out of the Australian's book. We know where the money is going. No more stealth tax on behalf of Gordon please.

  • 33.
  • At 04:12 PM on 16 Feb 2007,
  • neil scott wrote:

this man was great he did his job and noone did it better for the future of england,

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