The Sun, which for years has prided itself on providing the UK's male population with a daily dose of bare-breasted titillation is today up in arms at some porn-related largesse within the NHS. It reports:
HEALTH chiefs blew £7,500 on a special room where patients can watch PORN.
That's upper-case "PORN" ladies and gentlemen... which as we all know is the most shocking kind.
Of course this purpose-built suite is actually a facility intended to attract and retain more sperm donors, rather than a distasteful alternative to the TV room for frustrated in-patients.
The suite boasts computer equipment worth £4,625, flat screen TVs costing £2,225 - plus £500 of blue movies.
Having pointed out that other NHS trusts make do with a few dog-eared old magazines, The Sun then quotes rentaquote outrage engine the Tax Payers Alliance whose mission in life appears to be to put a totally one-sided, negative spin on any public expenditure (you can generate your own TPA quotes here) without even a cursory examination of the costs:
"This money could have been spent on treatment rather than on trying to improve on methods that have always worked just fine."
Some points The Sun glosses over in the name of cheap outrage and an unchecked regurgitation of the TPA's ignorant spin include:
1) The current system isn't working "just fine". In fact, according to the British Fertility Society the UK currently has a severe shortage of sperm donors and it is looking at ways to increase the numbers and thereby stem a trend of fertility tourism which sees UK couples look overseas for sperm and egg donors.
2) The newly-opened Liverpool facility is the largest of its kind in the UK, covering Merseyside, Cheshire and North Wales, built with the intention of attracting highly profitable private patients from around the UK and worldwide who would fund the provision of NHS treatment at no additional cost to the taxpayer. As such the modest up-front investment is clearly intended to pay for itself by making the process of donating sperm more attractive. More sperm donors - literally a 'money-shot' if you will - equals more IVF treatment.
3) Only around a quarter of IVF treatment in the UK is funded by the NHS. Couples undertaking private treatment could expect to pay between £4,000 - £8,000 for a course of treatment, meaning just one couple could be enough to pay for this forward-looking facility outright.
So, with a little research The Sun could easily have presented this as an interesting case study in how modernisation within the health sector is putting public services on a more commercial footing through investment in improving services. But that wouldn't be a good story would it.