Peter Hain: “since I was running the place I could more or less do what I wanted to do…”

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The former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland [and Wales, etc! - Ed], Peter Hain, has been reminiscing about the good old days…

“When I was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in 2005-07, [Prince Charles] was delighted when I told him that since I was running the place I could more or less do what I wanted to do.

“I was able to introduce a trial for complementary medicine on the NHS, and it had spectacularly good results, that people’s well-being and health was vastly improved.

“And when he learnt about this he was really enthusiastic and tried to persuade the Welsh government to do the same thing and the government in Whitehall to do the same thing for England, but not successfully,” added Mr Hain.

That might be because they’re not users of complementary medicine themselves, and more concerned about ethics than some

Of course, the BBC seem more concerned about the unsuccessful lobbying by Prince Charles, rather than the actions of the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he introduced the trial £200,000, self-assessed, pilot scheme administered by Get Well UK here – as the Get Well website now notes “As of March 2011, the organisation is closed.”

I never did see an official response to that scam scheme from a locally elected NI Minister for Health, and the department provides no further detail beyond a May 2008 “Independent Evaluation Report”.

One remaining question is why BBC NI were so enthusiastic in producing the accompanying propaganda to the scheme in 2008 – Get Well Northern Ireland?  The BBC links to that programme propaganda no longer work, but the (defunct) Get Well UK website is still promoting it.

As I noted in a related post here, from Edzard Ernst

“My plea is simply for honesty. Let people buy what they want, but tell them the truth about what they are buying. These treatments are biologically implausible and the clinical tests have shown they don’t do anything at all in human beings.

Indeed.

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  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “That might be because they’re not users of complementary medicine themselves”

    Get Well UK was endorsed in the House of Commons in February 2005 by Melanie Johnson, the then Under-Secretary of State for Health in response to a query from a Conservative MP [prior to Peter Hain's SoS tenure]:

    What does she think about the Get Well UK centre in north London, where it is possible, through contracts with GPs, which it provides, for people to find complementary practitioners who have a stamp of approval and meet the standards required? Has she looked into that initiative? … I thank the hon. Gentleman for notice of the question in relation to Get Well UK. We understand the benefit that many people get from complementary therapies. Local commissioning is a matter for local discretion, but we can see the benefits to local practices of an intermediary pulling together a range of services in the area for alternative medical treatments. We accept that such developments are positive, and indeed they have been made possible by the fact that we have introduced a more flexible system of providing primary medical services.” Hansard source

    In other words, Peter introduced a scheme which was already in operation in north London and had been officially endorsed.

  • Turgon

    “I told him that since I was running the place I could more or less do what I wanted to do.”

    Ah the sort of power Malan, Vorster or Botha could only have dreamed of.

    Oh yes sorry Hain was an opponent of white minority rule: maybe he thought it was a bit too democratic; letting people other than himself have power.

  • Pete Baker

    Nevin

    Details of the two previous 6 month pilot schemes in London are on the Get Well UK website.

    Neither of them were funded by the local Primary Care Trust (PCT), never mind the Department of Health.

    One started early 2005, ended same year, and the other ended in March 2006.

    Neither convinced the PCT, or the Department of Health, to continue the service after the pilot ended.

    In other words, no.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Pete, that’s not the point I was making. Melanie Johnston referred to the north London project as ‘positive’ and made possible by a ‘more flexible’ Labour government approach:

    We accept that such developments are positive, and indeed they have been made possible by the fact that we have introduced a more flexible system of providing primary medical services

  • Pete Baker

    Nevin

    I can only show you where and why you’re wrong.

    I can’t make you see it.

    *Oh, there’s a tree!*

  • cynic2

    “since I was running the place I could more or less do what I wanted to do……..”

    …..just as you did with secret OTR letters and pardons Mr Hain , although now you seem more reticent to boast about those

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Pete, you’ve failed to demonstrate why the Labour government’s endorsement in February 2005 didn’t appear to progress beyond the pilot stage. Was this due to the absence or lack of benefit derived from alternative approaches or could it be put down to lobbying by vested interests – or a combination of both?

    PS Perhaps there might be a remedy out there for your tree fetish ;)

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Nevin, thank you for your posts here, credit where its due.

    I was listening to start the week as I set up my work for today, and one of the participants used an image to suggest just how we “predict” (like predictive spelling on a phone) the end of any unfolding event from our past experiences.

    “John was on his way to school.

    He was very worried about the maths lesson.

    He didn’t think he could control the class again today

    After all its not part of the caretakers duty”

    By the second sentence you’ve started seeing John as a schoolboy, by the third he’s a teacher, by the fourth you discover he’s the caretaker. This predictive tendency from our memories/histories means that we “mindlock” on things as they happen and edit in what we expect (or want) to hear.

    For anyone who wants to check it out, it’s at about 29.00mts into the listen again version on the iplayer site:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b047wnyf

    Poor Peter Baker is arguably mindlocking against alternative medicine, as we are all, as educated sane people, expected to do, after all its “flakey” is it not? He seeems to be entirely excluding the importance of the factor you mention “lobbying by vested interests”. One of the greatest problems we face in any modern representative democracy is just how we manage to get important ideas across those minefields laid by professionals using developed versions of Bernys’ (see other postings over on “the Queen”) techniques for psycological manipulation of the public, lobbying politicians for those well heeled vested interests who can afford to employ them. Thanks for raising that point!

  • Zeno

    There’s an interesting article in the BT by Ruth Dudley Edwards.(I know)
    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/debateni/blogs/ruth-dudley-edwards/sinn-fein-ally-richard-haass-was-a-dumb-choice-to-chair-northern-ireland-peace-talks-30392882.html

    but since the BT discussion forum is basically fecked there is no point in commenting there. Maybe Slugger should start a thread on some of the better stuff and spring back to life?

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “the department provides no further detail beyond a May 2008 “Independent Evaluation Report”

    I’m busy doing other stuff but I did take a quick look at some of the conclusions in the DHSSPSNI report:

    In conclusion the evaluation has shown that the project objectives have been achieved. Not only have the health outcomes been measured, but health gain has been the experience for the vast majority of patients who received CAM as part of the project. ..

    The feedback from patients was overwhelmingly positive, with patients welcoming quick access to expert care provided by a team of high quality and dedicated CAM practitioners. The interaction between the patients and CAM practitioners also led to patients being provided with opportunities to learn and acquire self management strategies to manage, and further improve their health status.

    The evaluation has also provided some evidence of a reduction in GP workload, with many of the participating GPs indicating that they were seeing their patients less often. Furthermore, the evaluation has also produced evidence that patients, following their treatments, were using less medication, as well as using other health services less often. This points to the potential of CAM for reducing costs within health and social services in Northern Ireland.

    In this age of austerity, perhaps the Minister should take another look.