Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Only a decade of incompetence?

The Telegraph reports that doctors leaders are calling for government to be cut out of managing the NHS after a decade of NuLabour's "incoherent and contradictory" reforms.

The BMA said ministers should be prevented from "constant political dabbling" in the day-to-day running of the health service following a decade of "incoherent and contradictory" reforms.

What would one expect from Labour who are, let's face it, renowned for thinking that more money and more centralisation is the answer to everything. The BMA go on to suggest that what is needed is an independent "governing board" to control the day to day running of the NHS.

Currently, the NHS costs the taxpayer something in the region of £90 BILLION each year. That works out at roughly £1500 for every man, woman and child in Britain. Not every taxpayer - every single person. For the average family of four that's around £6000 each year. Any idea what sort of level of private health insurance six grand would buy you? Well, I have fairly comprehensive insurance for myself, Mrs Stan and the 2 Ministans and I can assure you it costs a darn sight less than £6000 a year.

When I think about the NHS and private versus public the key question I focus on is, what do we want from the NHS? Is the purpose of the NHS to provide a source of employment for state employees - or is it supposed to be to deliver free health care at the point of delivery?

Sounds like a daft question, but is it? After all, if the point was simply to deliver free health care at the point of delivery then why does it matter whether it comes from public or private provision? Much of the NHS could be run more efficiently and more effectively if it were in private hands - particularly routine operations. Not only that, but in private hospitals operations are revenue generating - so they don't get cancelled or cut. In the public sector, performing operations costs money and so they are the first thing to get cut when there is a budget squeeze - for whatever reason.

If we really want to have a quality health care system for the 21st century then we have to start thinking the unthinkable - and that means dismantling and disentangling the NHS from the public sector, privatising it where we can, streamlining it where we can not. Other countries manage far higher standards of health care than Britain without the need for a giant state owned organisation - and the harsh truth is that the NHS never was and never will be affordable. The golden days of the NHS hark back to a time when the infrastructure of the organisation was that which existed before the NHS came into being in 1948. It has been undergoing a systematic decline ever since that time despite more and more money being directed into it.

Not a decade of incompetence - 60 years.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not for the first time, Stan, you've hit the nail squarely on the head.

I am now convinced that the NHS exists primarily for the benefit of its employees and only fulfills its real function as a 'health service' as a virtual afterthought.

Time, I think, for a root and branch reorganisation along the lines you suggest.

Just don't hold your breath until it happens...