They are just lucky enough to be treated in Europe
Reading the article in the Sunday Times headed
‘MEPs can put Viagra pills on expenses’,
I was prepared to be horrified.
And when I read that slimming products and breast reduction could be paid for by the taxpayer “in a medical expenses regime described by critics as ‘ripe for abuse'” I was shocked.
But reading on, it seems that our MEPs representinging Britain are to be entitled to basic medical insurance. What their counterparts in more health-enlightened countries are offered. This insurance will cover treatments such as lymphatic drainage for instance. Most European health systems recognise this is vital for many post-cancer survivors; it is only in Britain that patients have to fight for this, and very often don’t succeed.
Another ‘perk’ available to MEPs is spending up to 21 days at thermal health spas – specialist medical centres providing medical treatment under medical supervision. In Britain, in the old days, once you left your NHS hospital you were very often sent to a Nursing Home to recuperate. But the NHS has cut these out, and now – even after major surgery – you are sent home, and in many cases given no help at all to recover.
The Continental way is to get you back and working as soon as possible, and help prevent further problems. Hence many of their doctors will recommend a stay in a recognised medical health spa, knowing that patients will be given the best care to help them recover, and taught how to exercise to help prevent further problems. I have been to these spas, and althought recuperation improves dramatically, they are no holiday. You are in the gym or treatment rooms by 8 am – and don’t stop all day.
The British way? Well, if you make a big fuss you might be referred to an exercise class (generally after a long wait). But as I discovered after a seven-hour heart operation, I spent a large part of my time writing to MPs etc. to try and stop Chelsea and Westminster Hospital dropping the specialised Cardiac Exercise Recovery Classes. Eventually they were restored – but I didn’t get the full benefit of starting these as soon as I was fit enough, and continuing in a seemless course until better.
We want MEPs to work for US – not spend time recovering. So medical spas seem a sensible option.
Pity the men
I would HATE to be a male patient with breast cancer in the NHS system – or with prostate cancer. In Britain we can have receptionists who demand our date of birth at the tops of their voices (I don’t think I have ever given mine to anyone but a European doctor once inside the privacy of his consulting room), then shout out “appointment for impotency?” across a crowded reception room.
Sexual problems come with post cancer territory – and Viagra is a recognised aid to help recovery. So why shouldn’t men get this if they need it? Particularly if “the condition is shown to stem from serious illness” as set out in MEP’s guidelines.
MEPs get their medical insurance as part of their employment package. If you work for most major companies, this is part of the deal. True, our MPs don’t get this, but I can’t see the justification for stopping MEPs. They will only have to take time off work and take Eurostar home for NHS treatment.
Anyway, if you are an MP you deemed a ‘security risk’, so will be given a private room, and of course your work is so important that you won’t wait. Remember stories of Tony Blair, etc. who was rushed in to an NHS hospital (and received ‘private’ treatment)? At least Lady Thatcher went in to the Cromwell Hospital and paid for herself, last time she had to go to hospital.
I am no fan of the EU, but for once I can’t see any justification for major complaint. Yes, if you nit-pick you can come up with MEPs being entitled to five rounds of IVF – on the NHS they would only get up to three – but otherwise, there doesn’t seem much that the average Belgian passing the EU Parliament in the street wouldn’t be getting anyway.
Instead of moaning that MEPs are getting European healthcare, why isn’t the Sunday Times campaigning for ALL British patients to get the same standard European care? After all, David Cameron and Andrew Lansley are constantly lauding European medical care – so come on, give us some of it. Throw your might behind a campaign to bring the NHS UP to European standards – and ask Cameron and Lansley what are they going to do about their pre-election promises to improve medical care in Britain?