Saturday 17 January 2009

”And finally, monsieur, a wafer-thin mint £425 handout.”

I noted in a post the other day that ‘incentives matter’; it seems the NHS believes that too, and is using the concept (paid for by the taxpayer, of course) to reduce obesity by…..paying the obese to slim down:
The NHS is to pay fat people up to £425 to lose weight.
Overweight men and women will get the handouts for meeting personal slimming targets.
And won’t immediately spend it all on chips and cream cake, I suppose…?

Most doctors and medical experts aren’t in favour either, pointing out the inherent dangers of ‘yo yo’ dieting that this scheme may encourage, not to mention that it is rewarding people for things that are within their own remit and will bring them health benefits:
An obesity expert said it could put people at risk of heart attack and stroke by encouraging yo-yo dieting and an MP said the idea would enrage patients who struggle to get funding for life-saving treatments.

There were also questions over whether the 'bribe' would have to be returned if the patients put the weight back on.
I’m betting ‘No’…

So why are they forging ahead with this?
The ' Pounds for Pounds' scheme is being run by Eastern and Coastal Kent primary care trust in conjunction with Weight Wins, a private company which runs incentive schemes for firms to persuade staff to lose weight.

If successful, it could be expanded across the country.
Yes, but if Virgin or Sainsbury wants to bring them in, they presumably fund it from company profits. The NHS is expecting us to fund it…
Weights are checked once a month by a nurse in a GP surgery or an assistant at a pharmacist.

There is no time limit but patients will get only half the money for losing the weight. The rest is handed over if they keep it off for six months.

They can decide to take cash or store or holiday vouchers.
What, no ‘McDonalds’ vouchers? No doubt someone will be complaining about that…
But Mark Wallace of the TaxPayers' Alliance said: 'People pay their taxes for the sick to be treated, not for the nanny state to bribe them to do something they should have done off their own bat.

'This is no kind of long-term solution - a temporary financial incentive won't stop people putting the weight back on once they've got the cash.

'When people who are ill through no fault of their own are struggling to get appointments and drugs, it's unfair for money to be allocated to people who simply need to choose to exercise more and eat less.'
‘Unfair’..? You are too generous – it’s frankly criminal!

Grinning homunculus Tam Fry (was there ever a more inappropriately-named spokesman?) popped up to cheer on this opportunity for him to see his picture in even more newspapers:
But the scheme was welcomed by Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum. He said: 'This is an investment to get people into the right lifestyle.

'The Government has spent an awful lot of money to tackle obesity and it has got absolutely nowhere. Now they are taking a leaf out of industry's book - rewarding people for doing good things.

'Some people will call this a bribe, but I think it's a judicious use of the public purse to prevent a further drain on resources from heart disease and type two diabetes.'
Of course you do – you are, after all, part of the ‘obesity industry’.


Furry Conservative said...

If you reward bad behaviour, you will get more bad behaviour. For at least twenty years this has been the case yet the State keeps on doing it. When I think of that woman who died because she was forbidden to spend HER OWN MONEY on top-up drugs...

They'll be weighed once a month? Piece of piss. Do what boxers do to make the weight - dehydrate. You can lose a stone, no problem. Dangerous? Well yes, but someone who binges on food to the point where they are obese isn't too worried about danger to health.

As for that rent seeking spokesman for the fat, if your own early death isn't enough of an investment, then get your fat hands off my fucking money.

Anonymous said...

How many cream cakes could you get for £425?

JuliaM said...

"If you reward bad behaviour, you will get more bad behaviour..."

They love to 'learn lessons' (or at least say they do) but never learn that one...

"Do what boxers do to make the weight - dehydrate. You can lose a stone, no problem."

Ah, I've got the answer to that! Unannounced drop-in visits and surveillance. Of course, we'll need to recruit a lot more NHS staff. And give them the legal power to force entry. And...

Oh, wait.

Mark Wadsworth said...

As I've said before...

"The National Obesity Forum is a lobbying front funded by Sanofi Aventis and Abbott Laboratories (see Note 2, page 12), so anything that they say can (and should) be cheerfully ignored."

I should have said "... be taken with a pinch of salt" but then I'd be in trouble with this lot.

Idle Pen Pusher said...

Of course, what NHS initiative would be complete without a website?

This, naturally, will have cost a lot more than what it may seem, due to what my web-designer sibling refers to as the "lucrative sector premium"...

JuliaM said...

"I should have said "... be taken with a pinch of salt" but then I'd be in trouble with this lot."


"This, naturally, will have cost a lot more than what it may seem, due to what my web-designer sibling refers to as the "lucrative sector premium"..."


Anonymous said...

I prefer the opposite incentive scheme. Tax rates should be increased for the entire population, and only on production of a letter from your doctor certifying your BMI was in normal ranges would you get a rebate. It could be a sliding scale. Basic rate tax (no certificate or BMI over 30) 30%
BMI 25-30: 25%
BMI 20-25: 20%
BMI below 20: 25% (would cut out the heroin chic super models - they wouldn't want to pay extra on their massive earnings!).
Or a more detailed sliding scale.

Plus you could get extra discounts for proving non smoking in the previous year (assuming such a test can be done), and also non illegal drug use as well.

People respond to financial incentives, even quite small ones. This would give a huge boost to the desire to lose weight, and hopefully would reduce future NHS demand,and make those who are likely to need it pay more when younger.