Saturday, 2 January 2010

Paying for costs

Back to my theme of questioning why the government wants to extract as much money as possible from the population. Via Mark Wadsworth I stumbled on this blogpost where this bit jumped out.
Over 30 years, alcohol consumption has increased by just 19%. But the cost of treating alcohol-related conditions has increased by 100% in just 5 years. It sounds to me rather as if the problem is not increasing levels of drinking, but astonishingly rapid increases in the cost of related healthcare.

The report also mentions "the focus of the 2004 national alcohol reduction strategy". So that strategy has covered the last five years - the period over which the NHS Confederation is saying the cost has doubled.
So clearly the national alcohol reduction strategy has failed miserably. Three possibilities present themselves:-
  • the strategy requires more funding to be effective
  • the strategy requires less funding because its a bottomless pit, but nice to have ongoing
  • cancel the whole damn exercise
One stat that's missing from the blogpost is whether alcohol deaths have increased, cos what I'm thinking is we can compare alcohol deaths to road traffic deaths, cos like road deaths are at their lowest level for almost a hundred years, whatever the powers that be are doing is working, whatever draconian laws, speedlimits, punishments and technological advances have been applied have reduced road deaths, whatever money has been poured into the issue has been effectively spent, but still the various lobbying groups are calling for more money and tighter rules.

Let me briefly summon the National Statistics Office website for alcohol-related deaths:-
Figures on alcohol-related deaths in 2007 indicate a levelling-off of the trend, following rapid increases since the early 1990s. There were 8,724 alcohol-related deaths in 2007, lower than 2006, but more than double the 4,144 recorded in 1991.

So what is it with alcohol deaths? Why isn't it working? Why aren't the numbers coming down. If its all bullshit, why do the numbers go up.

Has the doubling of the cost of treating alcohol-related conditions doubled the effectiveness?

For road deaths you could pull up the figures for car ownership over the last thirty years (28% increase from '79 to 2000) and then the death rates:-

The total number of deaths in road accidents fell by 7 per cent to 2,946 in 2007 from 3,172 in 2006. However, the number of fatalities has remained fairly constant over the last ten years.

The decline in the casualty rate, which takes into account the volume of traffic on the roads, has been much steeper. In 1967 there were 199 casualties per 100 million vehicle kilometres. By 2007 this had declined to 48 per 100 million vehicle kilometres.
So for driving, whatever has been spent has worked. For drinking, it hasn't, and there's no evidence that spending more or doing more will reduce deaths.

All this reasoning is of course a red herring, the cost to the NHS of alcohol related treatment has doubled or increased by whatever factor not because of people's behaviour, its barely a correlation, not causation. The NHS could easily reprioritise and half the spending regardless of how much you and I drink.

But no, any excuse for the state to justify trying to extract as much money as possible from the population.

No comments:

Post a Comment