Posts tagged ‘Wales’

Organ snatching

Governments like to steal things, whether it is money (via taxes) or assets (via Nationalisation) but until now our bodies have been off the agenda for our so-called modern Western democracies.

That changed last week when the Welsh Assembly (a regional government) passed a law of presumed consent with regards to the organs of the deceased:

The Welsh assembly voted on Tuesday night to adopt the opt-out policy, which will allow hospitals to act on the assumption that people who die want to donate unless they have specifically registered an objection.

The final stage of a bill to adopt a system of presumed consent was passed by 43 votes to eight, with two abstentions, in spite of objections from religious groups on moral grounds and concerns that the scheme could add to the distress of grieving families.

Objections? I’m not surprised that there were objections!

When I die my body becomes the property of my estate, not the State. It is up to the person who has power of attorney over said estate to dispose of it as per my wishes, not get rid of whatever is left after it has been pillaged by forces acting on behalf of the State.

Now, as it happens, I have nothing against volunatry organ donation and am more than happy for that to take place. However I want to make it perfectly clear to these modern-day descendents of Burke and Hare that if I do happen to die on the western side of the River Severn* any time after this piece of legislation comes into force in 2015 then they do not and never will have my permission to take any organs from my still warm corpse.

Welsh politicians are happy though:

“This is a huge day for Wales, for devolution and, most importantly, for the 226 people in Wales waiting for an organ transplant,” said the Welsh health minister, Mark Drakeford.

Wait, what? In order to deal with 226 cases – a number which will, of course, change between now and 2015 – they are planning on harvesting organs from how many thousands of people who die** in the country each year? Or are they intending to be slightly more targeted in the matter and only take those organs which they think will match the requirements of those on the transplant list?

Leaving the numbers aside, I foresee some practical problems ahead…

  • How does one actually opt-out? Is it a card in the purse/wallet (i.e. the exact opposite of the current donor card), a statement in your last Will and Testament or other?
  • Who is going to check to see if an opt-out exists and what is the time limit on finding it?
  • Does this only apply to people nominally resident in Wales or to anyone who happens to depart this life whilst in the principality? I’m sure the relatives of tourists wouldn’t necessarily be amused to discover something is missing from the corpse they have just shipped home…
  • No doubt various religious groups will claim that this is against their beliefs.

And, looking to the future, who is to say that the ability to opt-out won’t be taken away by a subsequent administration? Organ donation was once opt-in, now it is starting to become opt-out so obviously the next stop down the slippery slope is to take away any pretense of allowing people to make up their own mind on the issue…

* Yes, I know it isn’t the full border but you get the point I am trying to make.
** 30,426 according to Table 3 of the ONS stats for 2011.

More NMW Thoughts

Following on from the government’s (now launched) scheme to bribe employers into taking on unemployed youngsters, the Welsh ‘government’ – in an effort not to be out done – has gone one step further and will subsidise the entire cost of employing someone under 24 for a period of 6 months:

The Jobs Growth Wales programme commences in April 2012 and will create 4,000 jobs a year for job ready young people throughout Wales. The programme will cater for young people that are job ready but have had difficulty securing employment. Participants will be paid at or above the national minimum wage for a minimum of 25 hours per week. Young people will be employed for the duration of the programme and the jobs created must be additional to, and not replace, positions that would otherwise be filled.

Whilst some may no doubt see it as admirable that the State has stepped in to cover the cost of employing people who have otherwise been unable to get a job, my reactions can be summed up thusly:

  1. By insisting on these being new jobs, the tax payer is going to be subsiding jobs in the private sector that probably otherwise wouldn’t exist. Are we going to find ourselves with a glut of experienced paperclip shufflers from October onwards?
  2. By subsidising the entire cost, the Welsh ‘government’ appears to be saying that the actual value of the labour involved – and thus the value of the job done – is zero.
  3. This is further proof – as if it were needed – that the rate of the National Minimum Wage (£6.08 for those over 21) is far too high and that people (and the private sector) in Wales would clearly benefit from it being (if it is to continue to exist) set at a rate more commensurate with the costs of the local area.

Further food for thought comes in the shape of potential legal action from those who are 25 and over on the grounds of discrimination.

Does anyone, outside of the most deluded, still think that government interference is a) properly thought through and b) in any way useful?