It is by Tom Utley in the Daily Mail today. He is an unusual writer. He often writes about personal stuff and always in a very engaging way. Today’s article is rhetoric at its best. A good point, powerfully made.
It is about Shirley Williams and her continuing belief that the NHS is a good system. Here is a section of it:
The most maddening thing is that even when the evidence of Socialism’s failure is all around her — whether in the poverty of Soviet Russia in her youth or the black and white print of this week’s CQC report on the state of the NHS — she refuses to see it.
In her eyes, it’s never the theory itself that’s wrong, it’s just the way that people have put it into practice.
So what if the health service, as it is presently constituted, cannot manage on £2 billion a week of taxpayers’ money without subjecting old ladies to torture?
The answer’s simple, say the Williamses of this world. Just give it £4 billion a week. Or if that doesn’t work, try £8 billion. But don’t, whatever you do, whisper the blasphemies ‘private enterprise’ or ‘market economics’, or else the poor baroness will fall into a swoon.
Witness her horror over the Health Secretary’s plan to allow ‘any willing provider’ to supply services to the NHS. This is ‘stealth privatisation’, she says, as if no worse crime could be imaginable. ‘The NHS was always seen as the preferred provider. That is swept away.’ Can’t she see that those cruelly-abused patients, parched with thirst and rattling their bedrails to try to attract attention, would count it the greatest blessing on Earth if only a willing provider would hand them a glass of water?
I have been studying welfare systems in other countries including the healthcare systems for a new book. It is very clear that Britain is alone in Europe in its resistance to having private sector suppliers. It is also pretty unusual in not allowing much choice or competition. In Britain you have to go private to get much of that. You have to pay twice for healthcare – once through taxes and then again privately. So the choice and competition are limited – innovation, too. But even in Finland, you get some government subsidy when you prefer to go to a private doctor or to get medicines prescribed by a private doctor.
People suffer and die unnecessarily because people cling to a bad system.
See here for BBC coverage of the Care Quality Commission report.
Story on nurses not having time to talk to patients here.
Some of the Sun’s coverage of the Care Quality Commission report including some case stories and an article by the chairman of the commission.
And a personal account of poor care in the Telegraph.
- A double layer of choice for better healthcare
- Government to contract out NHS hospitals to the private sector
- “Inequalities in health status tend to be lower in three of the four countries with a private insurance-based system”
- “The death toll in a year is greater than that from breast cancer, Aids and traffic accidents combined.”
- Competition and the cost of an MRI scan