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Issue Date:- 5 May 2008


UNISON, the union for meat hygiene inspectors, has written to board members of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) urging them not to privatise meat hygiene inspection. The FSA is meeting on Wednesday, 7 May 2008 to discuss handing over meat inspection to a private sector control body. The Ipsos MORI poll for UNISON revealed that 76% of the public support keeping meat inspection in the hands of government inspectors, in line with the union's campaign.

UNISON National Officer for Meat Inspectors, Ben Priestley, said;- “Our survey shows that the public oppose privatisation of meat inspectors. People want to be absolutely sure that their Sunday roast is safe to eat. The FSA must realise that privatisation will compromise food safety as profits become the priority.  Privatisation will immeasurably damage the ability of the Food Standards Agency to control serious public health and hygiene issues. The latest figures show cases of e-Coli hit a 6-year high with standards at UK abattoirs falling. This means the Meat Hygiene Service needs tighter regulation with more scope to protect the public, not less.”

UNISON is working with the Meat Hygiene Service to deliver the Transformed Meat Hygiene Service as an alternative to privatisation. The MHS has already exceeded its financial targets to cut expenditure for 2008.

Ben Priestley continued:- “UNISON has written to all members of the FSA board urging them to show their support for the ‘Transformed Meat Inspection Service’. We need a quality public sector service staffed with well-trained, independent meat inspectors. This is the only way to deliver genuine modernisation of meat inspection and safeguard the health of the UK consumer.”

The Ipsos MORI survey found:-

76% of people would like meat inspection in slaughterhouses to remain a government responsibility. Only 8% favour privatisation.

58% of people would feel less confident that meat would be safe to eat if the meat hygiene service were privatised, only 7% would feel more confident.

Ipsos MORI interviewed 2,024 adults aged 16 or over between 13 and 18 March 2008. Interviews were conducted face-to-face in-home and the data have been weighted to the national profile of Great Britain.

NICE ‘penny-pinching’ restricts patient choice

A leading arthritis charity accused the government’s health rationing watchdog of penny-pinching in its decision to refuse thousands of people the chance to try an alternative life-changing anti-TNF drug if a first does not work for them.

"Anti-TNFs can slow down the progress of rheumatoid arthritis. We hear a lot about patient 'choice' but where is it in the decision to limit treatment options in this way?

But any supposed saving is false; the human cost alone is enormous, not to mention the cost to society and the economy.

The decision means that people now only have one option (rituximab) if their anti-TNF doesn’t work; and if rituximab fails them too, their disease will progress, causing irreversible damage to their joints, disability, poverty, and a significantly shortened life expectancy.

It just robs Peter to pay Paul as they will need higher levels of NHS intervention, more in-patient bed days, more orthopaedic surgery, and probably end up leaving their jobs and having to claim incapacity benefit instead of being active, productive members of UK Inc.

It is a terrible irony that the current NHS buzzword is ‘choice'; but this decision restricts choice not on clinical grounds, but on grounds of cost alone.

NICE is supposed to make its decisions on grounds of clinical and cost effectiveness, but on this occasion, penny-pinching has been the deciding factor"  said Arthritis Care chief executive Neil Betteridge.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) delivered its body blow that has been given to us all by decision on the sequential use of anti-TNFs, which, if allowed, would have meant that people in England and Wales could try another drug in the same class if their initial treatment did not work.

As each person reacts differently, when prescribing, doctors cannot predict which drug will best suit an individual. But it is known that four out of five people respond to a second anti-TNF therapy. In most parts of Europe, sequential use is not only allowed but recommended.

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