Thursday, 17 July 2008

Prevention or Cure Prime Minister?

"The more important thing that we are doing is investing £15 billion over the next 10 years in trying to find cures to diseases including cancer and skin cancer."

Wake up Gordon!

Yes folks that is how our Prime Minster opened his answer yesterday to the following question from Jo Swinson:

The most rapidly increasing type of cancer in this country is skin cancer, of which there are more than 80,000 new cases each year. As the Prime Minister heads to Suffolk for his bucket and spade holiday, I am sure that he will be stocking up on sun cream. How can his Government justify charging VAT on that essential health protection item?

So rather that cut 17.5% off products already available as a preventative measure, the PM is quite happy that some of that £15 billion pounds which may well not be available is he were to slash the VAT on such a healthy option as suncream is more important to him. His answer to Jo carried on:

The action of the national health service in making it possible for people to be seen quickly when they are diagnosed with cancer means that 99 per cent. of people suspected of having cancer are seen within two weeks. Those are the actions that we can take, and they will get rid of skin cancer in the long run.

Diagnosis is also mentioned seemingly instead of prevention. What is prudent about that Mr Brown. Zero rating sunscream is hardly going to be a major dent in the governments coffers. However, it may well be marginal enough for some of our poorest citizens who ignore suncream and are most at risk of skin melanoma's to actually take some action to help themselves, rather than relying on diagnosis and then cure.

In the words of Baz Luhram:

Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of
fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the
ugly parts and recycling it for more than
it’s worth. But trust me on the sunscreen…

Well this advise isn't for the sake of nostalgia. Nor is it recycling old truths. PM this issue may have been looked at from time to time, yet still the wrong sort of message is coming back. Get rid of VAT on suncream, free up a few beds, doctors' hours and whatever else as a result of doing the right thing.


  1. And remove VAT from other medical products... IIRC there's VAT on condoms.

  2. There is indeed although they are taxed at the 5% rate.

    So condoms are given a break but sun screen is not.

    Nu Labour tough-ish on the causes of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, not tough on prevented skin cancer.