There are some stories which come to define a leader or government. Whether it was Margaret Thatcher ‘milk snatcher’ withdrawing free milk from schools as Education Secretary, or Tony ‘Bliar’ Blair’s ‘dodgy dossier.’ For David Cameron and his Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt – it might be this.
For the first time in it’s history, the NHS will be denying hearing aids to deaf people. As I read the story in the Guardian this morning, I actually felt my breath catch in my throat.
The GP-led NHS clinical commissioning group in North Staffordshire is taking the unprecedented step of ceasing to provide free hearing aids to mainly elderly people in its area with mild hearing loss.
It is also making it harder for those with moderate hearing loss to get access to hearing aids by introducing new eligibility criteria against which patients will be judged.
Campaigners and hearing experts have criticised the new policy as “ill thought-through, baffling and unprecedented”.
The CCG says the new restrictions are necessary to help it save money, and will save it about £200,000 in the first year. But the charity Action on Hearing Loss claims that hearing aids cost the NHS as little as £90 each.
To put that £200,000 of cuts (because seriously, what are we saving the money for if it’s not to treat patients?) in perspective – it is HALF the sum spent paying off a single NHS executive this year. David Flory was Chief Executive of the NHS Trust Development Authority and a close advisor to Jeremy Hunt. When he chose to stand down in March, he was given a “termination payment” of between £410,000 and £415,000 – on top of his £235,000 salary.
Austerity for whom?
While those with the least are expected to make enormous sacrifices, those with the most are having their lifestyle subsidised by the taxpayer. This government is a compassion-free zone, and it’s on us all to build a kinder, fairer society.
I am working with a team of extraordinary people to launch an entirely new, independent UK media outlet in on October 17th this year! The Canary will bring you everything you love about Scriptonite Daily, all day, every day. We will be bringing you independent, well-researched, and fearless reporting on news, politics, current affairs, science, tech, health and wellness – seven days a week.