Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

UK Supreme Court rules against Christian B&B couple’s conscience rights

Dina sent me this article from the UK Telegraph about a recent Supreme Court decision from the UK.

Excerpt:

The devoutly Christian owners of a Cornish hotel who refused to allow two gay men to take a double room have lost their final appeal to the Supreme Court. It ruled that Peter and Hazelmary Bull had discriminated against the couple, even though they had long operated a rule that unmarried guests had to sleep apart. One of the judges, Lady Hale, said such a case would have been unthinkable less than two decades ago, and it is a measure of how both the law and societal norms have changed that the Bulls should have found themselves in such a predicament.

It is also a pity this matter was not settled amicably when the Bulls made an offer of redress; but campaigners were intent on making an example of them. The aggrieved men, Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy, who were in a civil partnership, were supported by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). The Bulls were perplexed as to why the EHRC should act against them, since their right to exercise their religious beliefs was being set against that of the men not to be discriminated against on the grounds of their sexual orientation.

Dina also sent me this article from the pro-gay Spiked Online.

Excerpt:

[A]s the systematic unequal treatment of gays has ended, so another problem has grown. One pernicious social force has been replaced by another: the willingness of the state to outlaw minority or eccentric views and behaviours. State-backed oppression has yielded to state-backed intolerance.

The Bulls have been hauled before the courts and told they can no longer practise what they preach. To deny a couple the right to make a living in a manner consistent with their Christian values is draconian. The Bulls’ fate is similar to that of Lillian Ladele, an Islington marriage registrar, and Gary McFarlane, a Relate counsellor, who were both sacked after declining to provide their professional services to lesbians and gays. Equality laws did for them all.

The problem here is not, as it appears, merely a slap in the face to Christians. It is a slap in the face to the right of all individuals to act free of state control absent a compelling reason for intervention. As John Stuart Mill put it in On Liberty (1859): ‘The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.’

As if to satisfy Mill’s harm principle, the Supreme Court went in search of Preddy and Hall’s ‘harm’. What they found was that when the Bulls’ house rules were explained to Preddy and Hall, they found it ‘upsetting’ and ‘very hurtful’. Even in the touchy-feely twenty-first century, where self-esteem is seen as so important and so fragile, this is pretty lame.

The Supreme Court judge, Lady Hale, may have been aware that this ‘affront to their dignity’, as she put it, was not the sort of harm, in the Mill sense, that should justify the state’s coercive power. She bolstered her argument by linking Preddy and Hall’s hurt feelings to a bigger historical picture. ‘We should not underestimate’, she said, ‘the continuing legacy of those centuries of discrimination, persecution even, which is still going on in many parts of the world’.

Fascism happens when the normal desire for compassion is taken out of the family context and becomes the policy of a powerful feminist welfare state. And that’s when it becomes a threat to the right of individuals to make moral judgments and to exercise religious liberty.

The EHRC, you’ll remember, was a project of the Labour Party of the UK, which is the socialist party in the UK. There is also a communist party called the Liberal Democrats. The striking thing is that many church-attending Christians not only vote for the Labour Party, but they also vote for the Liberal Democrats, which are even more liberal. A lot of this is because British Christians are so far to the left on economic issues that they sort of go along with the assault on their own religious liberty out of ignorance. They vote for bigger and bigger government, and then they are surprised when they actually get it.

The same thing happened in Canada with the Liberal Party and their introduction of Human Rights Commissions and Human Rights Tribunals, which criminalize offending people with free speech. The very Christians that voted for expanding government to reduce poverty were the ones who were then persecuted by the same big government they voted to create. This goes to show why we need to have better economics knowledge among Christians, because many of us are voting for left-wing parties because we think that private, voluntary charity can be replaced with government-controlled redistribution of wealth. Not only does that not work to reduce poverty, but in the end, we lose our liberties, too.

In the UK, you’ll find a lot of Christians who think that rent control is a good thing, that price controls are a good thing, that raising minimum wage is a good thing, that tariffs on imported goods are a good thing – positions which are generally viewed as incorrect by academic economists across the ideological spectrum. That’s why churches need to teach the Christian worldview, including economics. The UK church should be training Christians to undo this ignorant, patriotic confidence that UK Christians have in their welfare state. We all have a lot of work to do to educate ourselves on how the Bible applies to the real world (e.g. – economics), or else we will end up undermining our own liberties.

Additionally, I find it very frustrating that so many churches are so focused on providing emotional comfort and a sense of community to the people in the pews that they neglect to talk about these religious liberty issues. Pastors don’t want to alert ordinary Christians about how dangerous it’s becoming to take unpopular stands on issues like gay rights in public – it’s scary and divisive and drives people away from church. You’re not going to hear them trying to apply the Bible to moral issues or economic issues, etc. from the pulpit, because that spoils the “experience” and “the show” – the comfort and entertainment that people expect from church. We need to do better at helping Christians to be aware of threats to our liberties. They need to be trained to connect their faith to specific laws and policies in the real world.

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New study: NHS patients are 45 percent more likely to die than US health care patients

Wes sent me this article from the UK Telegraph.

Excerpt:

Patients are 45% more likely to die in NHS hospitals than in US ones, according to figures revealing how badly England’s health service compares with those of other countries.

Previously unpublished data collated by Professor Sir Brian Jarman over more than 10 years found NHS mortality rates were among the worst of those in seven developed countries.

A patient in England was five times as likely to die of pneumonia and twice as likely to die of septicaemia compared to similar patients in the US, the leading country in the study, the data suggested.

The elderly were found to be particularly at risk in English hospitals compared with those in the other countries.

The figures showed that the situation had improved since 2004, when the death rate in English hospitals was 58% higher than that in the best performing country.

But NHS institutions still lagged behind in the most recent data, from 2012, despite reforms of the health service and increased funding.

Of the other six countries studied, only the US was named because of the sensitivity of the data.

Prof Sir Brian, who adjusted the data to take account of differences in the countries’ health services, did not initially release his figures because he was so shocked by them he at first assumed there must be a flaw in his methodology.

There was, however, “no means of denying the results,” he said.

“I expected us to do well and was very surprised when we didn’t,” the Imperial College London medic told Channel 4 News.

“If you go to the States, doctors can talk about problems, nurses can raise problems and listen to patient complaints.

“We have a system whereby for written hospital complaints only one in 375 is actually formally investigated. That is absolutely appalling.”

Previously, I had posted a summary of a book by Scott Atlas, a medical doctor at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. In that article, he laid out the reasons why the U.S. healthcare system was the best in the world.

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New report exposes NHS socialized medicine as an unmitigated disaster

The UK Telegraph reports on the sorry state of socialist Britain. (H/T Dina)

Excerpt:

Eleven NHS trusts were put into “special measures” after an investigation found thousands of patients died needlessly because of poor care.

The report blamed poor staffing levels and lack of oversight, and said that staff did not address the needs of patients. It concluded the hospitals investigated were “trapped in mediocrity”.

[...]The review, ordered by the Prime Minister, began in February following the public inquiry into the scandal at Mid Staffordshire Hospital Foundation Trust, where up to 1,200 people died amid “appalling” failings in care.

Inspectors visited 21 hospitals, run by 14 NHS trusts, which had the highest recent mortality rates in England. They found that some of the risks to patients were so severe that they were forced to step in immediately.

[...]At Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, junior doctors described a “frightening” workload which left them responsible for up to 250 patients at weekends. Elderly patients were left on the lavatory with the door open, while others were left on trolleys for hours on end. At one of the trust’s community hospitals, nurses were forced to call 999 because there were not enough doctors.

At Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust, patients’ families had to feed other patients because nurses were busy while other vulnerable elderly people were left in soiled conditions. At Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust, relatives said they were not only washing and dressing patients but turning them to prevent bed sores. Receptionists were left to take decisions about how quickly patients were seen in A&E, as happened in Mid Staffs.

Sir Bruce said: “For me this is in many ways a difficult day for the NHS — because we are laying bare some truths. On the other hand, the transparency with which this review has been conducted, I hope will be a turning point for the NHS.”

Dirt and dust was found to be “ingrained” on the wards at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust and two operating theatres were shut immediately due to poor hygiene.

Figures showed up to 13,000 excess deaths since 2005 at the 14 trusts investigated, advisers to the review said.

“No statistics are perfect but mortality rates suggest that since 2005 thousands more people may have died that would normally be expected at the 14 trusts reviewed,” Mr Hunt told the Commons.

At Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, up to 1,600 people more than expected may have died during the period. Inspectors found patients stayed up to two weeks in temporary areas without shower facilities. Others were left in ambulances “stacked” outside A&E departments, or waiting hours on trolleys.

At East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, high numbers of stillbirths at the maternity unit — eight in March — were never investigated, nor reported to the trust’s board. An elderly woman was discharged at 3am and told she had “no choice”, inspectors found.

Patients at George Eliot Hospital waited up to 10 days to see a senior doctor. Nurses were not trained to treat bedsores, leaving patients in crippling pain. At Sherwood Forest Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, inspectors found significant backlogs of scans and X-rays which had never been examined, and complaints which dated back three years.

At Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, whose chief executive and medical director resigned this month, wards had no doctors in charge at nights, while patients were shifted from ward to ward.

At United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust there were 12 “never events” — incidents so serious, such as operations on the wrong part of the body, or surgical instruments left inside a patient, that they should never occur — in three years. Patients felt too frightened to complain in case it led to worse care, the report found.

What happened? How is it that UK citizens and businesses pay over half their incomes to the government, and yet the government cannot even provide basic health care for customers?

The missing factor

Let Dr. Walter Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University, explain why the NHS has failed to please their customers:

The NHS is what happens when people repeatedly elect governments that are ignorant of basic economics.

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Can you trust big government to take care of your health?

Let’s take a look at another story about socialized medicine from the UK, from the UK Daily Mail.

Excerpt:

The picture Sarah Fleming took of her husband Stewart is one that will haunt her for ever.

Taken on her mobile phone, it shows him sitting in a hospital cubicle, a hand clutching his stomach, his face a vivid reflection of the agony he was in, as he waited to be seen by doctors.

Tragically, that picture is a heartrending reminder of the circumstances leading up to the railway signalman’s death. It is also a vivid illustration of the turmoil unfolding in overstretched hospital emergency departments.

For the father-of-two, 37, from Rainham, in Kent, had to endure a six–hour wait to see a doctor in A&E at Gillingham’s Medway Maritime Hospital. He had a letter from his GP asking him to be admitted immediately.

He had been to see his GP that day because the antibiotics he had been taking for flu-like systems had failed to work. He was referred straight to hospital. But when he arrived, on December 15, 2008, the hospital was facing an unusually busy period. Staff sickness, a cold weather snap and an increase in GP referrals meant the hospital was under pressure.

He was admitted at 5.30pm, but was not seen until 11.15pm. By then, the mystery virus Stewart had contracted was attacking his heart, kidneys and liver. Despite being transferred to London’s Harefield Hospital, where he was placed into a drug-induced coma, he died on December 27.

And another from the same article:

She was a frail woman who deserved to be treated with dignity and kindness. Instead, Ethel Martin, 91, died after developing deep vein thrombosis having spent 16 hours on a trolley at Manchester Royal Infirmary.

The great-grandmother was admitted to hospital on April 17, 2006, complaining of feeling breathless. Her family were with her when she was put in a curtained-off bay in the overstretched A&E department — the hospital saw 365 patients in A&E that day — at about 5pm.

They returned home in the early hours, assuming she would be cared for, but were shocked when they came back the next day at 9am and found her in the same position. She hadn’t slept because the trolley was so uncomfortable.

After Mrs Martin, of Chorlton, Greater Manchester, was found a bed, her condition deteriorated and she was diagnosed with DVT. She was treated with blood-thinning drugs but died on May 1, following a cardiac arrest.

At an inquest into her death, pathologist Dr Richard Fitzmaurice said lying on her trolley could have contributed to her death. ‘Immobility is a recognised factor in the build-up of deep vein thrombosis.’

A coroner recorded a verdict of misadventure, on the grounds Mrs Martin’s death was the unintended consequence of medical treatment.

Mr. Stewart probably paid into the NHS his entire life before he needed care, and was denied it. That’s wow socialized medicine works. You pay into it. The government takes your money and buys votes from young people, by providing contraception, breast implants, HIV drugs, abortions, IVF and sex changes. When you get old, and need care, then you get in line behind people who have never paid a dime into the system. By that time, you’ll have no money of your own to get treatment from a private hospital. In Canada, you would have to leave the country and pay out of pocket for immediate care. That’s what the left thinks is such a great idea.

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How privatization turned the worst-performing NHS hospital around

From the American Spectator.

Excerpt:

[T]he most successful of the “drastic” experiments put in place is that much-hated bête noire of progressives and Obamacare supporters everywhere: privatization. The Mail Onlinereports that Hinchingbrooke Hospital, “The first NHS trust to be operated entirely by a private company has recorded one of the highest levels of patient satisfaction in the country.”

In other words, the Brits were so desperate to fix their crumbling health care system, they experimented with the private market and it is outperforming government-run health care without breaking a sweat. Hinchingbrooke was, like so many hospitals in the UK, about to go under when a private company called Circle Holdings was awarded a 10-year contract to run it. This is the first time such a company has been given control of an NHS hospital and the results will not come as a surprise to anyone who understands free enterprise.

As the Mail Online goes on to report, “The company running the trust has slashed losses at the hospital by 60 per cent and will soon begin to pay… debts built up over years of mismanagement.” Though will be no surprise to free market advocates, it has been a real eye-opener to the NHS. Privatization isn’t the dirty word it once was in the much-maligned health system: “The takeover deal … is seen as a blueprint for the future of many NHS trusts. The George Eliot Hospital in Warwickshire is already considering adopting the model.”

It will also come as no surprise to those who believe the market provides the most efficient health care delivery model that, in addition to dramatically improving the financial prospects, privatization has improved patient satisfaction. Before Hinchingbrooke was taken over by Circle Holdings, patients had a very low opinion of the hospital and the care it provided. Now, this perception is dramatically improved: “Patient satisfaction has risen to 85 per cent, placing Hinchingbrooke in the top six of the East of England’s 46 hospitals.”

I took a look at the UK Daily Mail article and found an interesting section:

Patient satisfaction has risen to 85 per cent, placing Hinchingbrooke in the top six of the East of England’s 46 hospitals. The feedback is calculated by asking families and patients whether they would recommend the hospital, then weighting the answers compared to local peers.

Previously the trust was among the lowest ranking for satisfaction.

Figures also show that Hinchingbrooke has risen from being one of the worst performing trusts to one of the best under the private firm’s management.When Circle took over, the hospital was consistently near the bottom of the 46 trusts, with many patients waiting more than four hours in A&E.

It now tops the list for short waiting times, seeing 98.2 per cent of patients within the required window.
The hospital also ranks fifth for the proportion of patients with suspected cancer having tests within a fortnight.

Before the takeover it had missed targets every month since June 2010.

It now treats 89 per cent of cancer patients within 62 days, beating the 85 per cent target.

Circle saved millions of pounds a year by cutting out arduous paperwork and middle management.

Under the former ownership, a lengthy form had to be filled out every time a lightbulb needed changing, in a process that often took more than a week.

The group, which runs independent hospitals in Reading and Bath, inherited debts of £39million with the project.

The hospital had been expected to lose £10million last year, but this has been whittled down to  £3.7million by the Circle group.

It made up the deficit from its own coffers, rather than taxpayer funds, and is expected to break even in the current year.

Do you think that we might consider privatizing Medicaid and Medicare, since we know that privatization is good for health care consumers and taxpayers? Of course not, because privatization is bad for politicians, who want to retain control of health care. Privatization is good, but we’re not going to get it unless we vote the socialists out.

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