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Posts Tagged: NHS

Comparing two Observer articles…

Sunday 5th February 2012

First from a 2001 article by Andrew Browne, then the health editor of the Observer:

“Even as you read this, in almost every hospital in the country, there will be elderly, vulnerable people left for hours and sometimes days on trolleys. Each year, thousands of British people – the young, the old, the rich, the poor – die unnecessarily from lack of diagnosis, lack of treatment and lack of drugs. They die and suffer unnecessarily for different reasons, but there is just one root cause: the blind faith the Government has in the ideology of the National Health Service, and our unwillingness to accept not just that it doesn’t work, but that it can never work.”

“…we must abolish the NHS as we know it, abandon our unique obsession that all health care should be free, and become as comfortable with mixed public and private medicine as they are elsewhere in the developed world.”

It’s tragic that so many of his criticisms still seem to be valid.

Secondly, Ed Miliband on the Government’s proposed healthcare reforms:

“That bill remains what it was in the beginning: a misguided attempt to impose a free market free-for-all on our National Health Service.”

As Browne noted, other countries have mixed private and public health systems. Those healthcare systems are the best in the world. Miliband is criticising the reforms because they’re too similar to the best healthcare systems in the world.

Words fail me.

From the first article again:

“The noble ideology of communism had to be ditched because it didn’t work. So the noble ideology behind the NHS should be ditched because it costs lives. We should ditch the ideology and ditch the NHS.”

Quite right.

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Holy crap, the Guardian have published something worth reading!

Wednesday 18th May 2011

About the government’s health reforms. I’ve mentioned in the past that some of the arguments against the proposals seem somewhat blinkered. The Guardian published an article today which looks at those arguments in a similar sort of way:

“The media debate has ignored the most obvious evidence: the fact that almost everywhere where they have been tried, market approaches work better than centrally planned government ways of running the same activity. Not all markets work well, but even the bad ones seem to do better than central planning.

Many arguments against competition in the NHS seem stuck in a 1930s time warp and ignore 80 years of world history that have taught even the Chinese Communist Party that planned economies are a failure – and this is true even when compared to very imperfect market ones.”

I still don’t understand why people think that healthcare should always be provided by the state. As far as I can see it, such strict adherence to state provision is the answer to a question that no-one is asking. The basic desire – that I think most people can agree on – is to have a good service, for the best value for money, which is accessible to everyone. In that case, as long as the government pays for the treatment, does it really matter who provides it? Shutting out providers other than the NHS simply means that we’re excluding providers who might, potentially, be able to do something better, cheaper or quicker than the NHS can. Can anyone explain why this is a desirable thing?

Some people will say “ah, but we don’t want to be like America, do we?!”. No, and the proposals do not mirror the American system. The American private insurance system, which means that some people simply can’t afford care, is not good. And that’s also not what’s being proposed. The market bit of the American system works well, and it’s notable that countries like France – which has private providers and a public insurance scheme – generally have better health systems than our own. The evidence stacks up, and as far as I’m concerned that trumps any ideological misgivings.

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