Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Professionals Exceding their Remits?

What are doctors for?

Over New Years many of us decided to celebrate by loosening inhibitions. We imbibed large amounts of alcohol, probably to a point of technically poisoning ourselves, because we like the sensation of being drunk in good company and consider it worth the price and health risks.

How did the BBC celebrate? Well, five minutes into the new year they celebrated by publishing this article.

Rising alcohol addiction costs 'could cripple the NHS'

The cost of treating the growing number of people drinking heavily threatens to cripple NHS hospitals, warn experts.

If the trend continues the burden will be unsustainable, the Royal College of Physicians and NHS Confederation say.

With a quarter of England's population consuming hazardous amounts, alcohol addiction already costs the NHS more than £2.7 billion a year, they say.

Note "Royal College of Physicians" and "NHS Confederation." The article is citing one Professor Ian Gilmore. This chap has form on this sort of thing. He is one of those behind creating anti-drinking areas in towns and cities:

DRINKING blackspots will be subjected to prohibition-style laws under a radical proposal by the country’s top liver doctor.

The aim is to block alcohol sales in parts of the country where people’s health is being put at risk by drink.

The plan was put forward by Professor Ian Gilmore and it could see many inner city areas being turned into drink-free zones.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Express, Prof Gilmore said: “Much of the focus of drink has been on its link with antisocial behaviour, crime and disorder but our concern is about the damaging consequences of drink to health.

“When I became a liver specialist 30 years ago, alcoholic liver disease was something we only saw in middle-aged and older people. Now we’re seeing people in their twenties with end-stage liver disease.

“We need to use all the tools we’ve got to try to tackle this problem.”

Prof Gilmore wants the law changed so councils could refuse a drink licence on health grounds.

Gilmore, of course, is not willing to leave things at imposing larger local government. He has also advocated increasing the powers of global government:

"We need an international framework convention for alcohol control, similar to that on tobacco, as soon as possible, to put into practice the evidence-based measures needed to reduce alcohol-related harm.

"These include increasing the price of alcohol, reducing its availability and banning advertising, and the action needs to start now."

He has also supported legislation imposing a minimum price of alcohol, too:

Prof Gilmore, the president of the Royal College of Physicians, said the move could reduce the numbers admitted for alcohol problems by around 100,000...

It is not apparent where he snatched this "100,000" figure from. Especially since "Writing in The Lancet, however, Prof Gilmore says that the price hike would cost the average person only 23p more per week." Given that his proposal is targetted at discounted drinks in supermarkets, which apparently cost less than 20p for a can of some piss weak lager, then this price hike is plainly tiny, and yet is supposed to save 100,000 lives!

In the referred to edition of the Lancet, it is reported that

One in 25 deaths across the world are linked to alcohol consumption, Canadian experts have suggested.

One in twenty-five deaths around the world? A world that has disease, starvation, and war, and yet one in twenty-five deaths is caused by alcohol?! Sound implausible much? Scaremongering much? Wait 'til you see the figures for Europe:

Europe had the highest proportion of deaths related to alcohol, with 1 in 10 deaths directly attributable.

Ten percent of all deaths directly attributable to alcohol?! This figure is soundly questioned over at Devil's Kitchen

10% of all deaths? Let's do a quick bag-of-an-envelope calculation, shall we?

According to the ONS, there were 509,090 deaths in England and Wales in 2008 and there were 6,541 deaths related to alcohol in England. That last figure doesn't include Wales so let's be generous and add a further 500 deaths for the sheep-worriers.

Which gives us a total number of about 7,000, or 1.38% of all deaths.

Of course, that doesn't give us the percentage for the whole of Europe, but seeing as we're supposedly some of the worst drinkers in Europe (another fucking lie), that should be considered a conservative estimate. Still nowhere near 10% though, is it? It's not even close to the 1 in 25—or 4%—claimed for the whole world, and for that global total you need to factor in a billion muslims who don't drink at all, plus God knows how many people who haven't got a pot to piss in, let alone a pub to get pissed in.

Gimore's most recent scare story is also ably refuted at Devil's Kitchen, along with all the most basic myths underscoring the neo-prohibitionist propaganda. That these are myths is not what I am concerned with here. What I am concerned with is the fact that doctors are proposing new legislation. Undoubtably they even write the new bills before offering them to civil servants to offer to MPs, too.

It is not your fucking job!

Likewise, doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals are not just interested in shaping new legislation, but preserving old legislation:

The BMA has written to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) saying it is "deeply concerned" by proposals to allow the changes, which broadcasters say will bring up to £140m a year in extra revenue.

Ministers are facing fierce opposition from medical groups, teaching unions and children's charities over plans to relax the current Ofcom rules that prevent giving certain items or brand names high visibility.

"The BMA is deeply concerned about the decision to allow any form of product placement in relation to alcohol, gambling and foods high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS) as this will reduce the protection of young people from harmful marketing influences and adversely impact on public health," says the organisation's submission.

"By its nature product placement allows marketing to be integrated into programmes, blurring the distinction between advertising and editorial, and is not always recognisable. Studies show that children are particularly susceptible to embedded brand messages and these operate at a subconscious level."

Ben Bradshaw, the culture secretary, announced plans last year to relax the rules in order to help commercial broadcasters weather the downturn in advertising.

This is, of course, the tip of the iceberg. We are familiar with other stories, too of course

Experts from the BMA's board of science branded controls on alcohol promotion “completely inadequate” and called for a ban on drink advertising and the introduction of minimum price levels.

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the BMA's head of science and ethics, said society was awash with pro-alcohol messaging targeted at young people: “Over the centuries alcohol has become established as the country's favourite drug.

“Young people are drinking more because the whole population is drinking more.

“In treating this we need to look beyond young people and at society as a whole.”

All this begs the question of what a doctor's remit is. What are doctors for? I shall submit this: Doctors are mechanics. Their job, and their only job, is to put people back together again when they fall apart or stop working, and possibly to offer some advice as to how they can avoid this, just as a mechanic's job is to put our car back together when it falls apart, and just as a mechanic may advise us as to how to avoid such problems in the future.

It is not my mechanic's job to decide how I should be allowed to drive my car. If I choose to drive it in a way that causes wear and tear on it, that damages it, that is my choice, because it is my car. If I choose to "drive" my body in a way that causes wear and tear on it, that is my choice, because it is my body. My mechanic can complain to me. He can continue offering advice. But, in the end, his job is simply to put my car back together when it breaks. This is precisely the same for doctors.

It is not your business how much I drink, Ian Gilmore. It is your job to fix my liver when my drinking breaks it. Stick to that.

Of course, I am forced to pay Gilmore to exceed his remit any way, as Devil's Kitchen writes:

Professor Ian Gilmore is, of course, not just "president of the Royal College of Physicians", oh no. He is also the Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance which is, of course, a fake charity of some magnitude.

Now, a quick search of fakecharities.org for "Alcohol Health Alliance" throws up such definitely fake charities as Sustain, the Institute for Alcohol Studies and the Alliance House Foundation (formerly the UK Alliance for the Suppression of the Traffic in All Intoxicating Liquors); all of these organisations are heavily funded by the state which means, of course, that the Alcohol Health Alliance is also heavily funded by the state.

As such, Professor Ian Gilmore is a mouthpiece for the government...

It is worth pointing out that nowhere in the Telegraph article is this information pointed out.

Now me—I'd say that taking the word of a man who is the Chair of an organisation, the members of which include the formerly-named "UK Alliance for the Suppression of the Traffic in All Intoxicating Liquors", without mentioning this little nugget of information—or massive fucking conflict of interest—is the act of a deeply stupid, tit-head, biased cub reporter.

So, perhaps Gilmore is not exceding his remit... if we consider that his job is not a doctor or surgeon. Instead, his job is to continue to get money, taken from tax payers under threat of punishment, to feather the nests of members of his groups, and the legislators and civil servants that implement the policies he and his dream up. He is perfectly within his remit if his job title is "government shill."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How long do you believe it to be before all alcohol is banned (or just spirits)?

1:03 AM  

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