Wednesday, 13 January 2016

The fiction of NHS inefficiency


Yesterday I saw someone ranting beneath one of my Facebook posts about how they consider the NHS to be "broken", and how it has "been that way for decades".

With the drip, drip, drip of anti-NHS stories in the right-wing press it's easy to see how people might have become convinced that the NHS is a catastrophically inefficient mess, but the evidence actually says that it is not.

Efficiency

There is a mountain of evidence to show that the NHS is still (somehow) one of the most efficient health care systems in the world (despite years of Tory mismanagement and Andrew Lansley's catastrophic reforms that even top Tories admit to being "unintelligible gobeldygook"), and it's still vastly more efficient than the private sector dominated US health system.

According to the 2014 Commonwealth Fund study the NHS ranked as number one in almost every category in comparison to the heath systems of ten other developed nations (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the US).


Meanwhile the 2013 World Bank figures reveal that the UK spent significantly less per head of population on health care provision ($3,598) than all ten of the other countries in the Commonwealth Fund analysis (New Zealand $4,063, France $4,804, Germany $5,006, Sweden $5,680, Canada $5,718, Australia $6,110, US $9,146, Switzerland $9,276, Norway $9,715).

How is it possible that the NHS could have been ranked as one of the best services in the developed world and also as one of the cheapest too, yet be the "catastrophically inefficient failing monstrosity" that certain right-wing elements would like you to believe that it is?

Isn't the fact that the NHS is ranked as both better and cheaper than the health services in so many other developed nations an indicator that it's actually incredibly efficient by global standards?


The NHS is ours

The NHS is ours. It's ours because we have paid for it through our taxes

The NHS was founded in 1948 and inspired socialised heath care systems across the social democratic countries of the world, the introduction of the NHS coincided with a massive upsurge in the health of the nation, and the NHS is still demonstrably one of the most efficient health care systems on the planet too.

Of course the NHS isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination because no large organisation ever can be, but it's still one of the most important jewels in our national crown that is being prised out and sold off by the Tory government as part of the greatest fire-sale of public assets ever (that they're currently conducting), a fire-sale so vast that it eclipses Margaret Thathcer's rate of sell-offs during the 1980s.


Propaganda

Remember when Rupert Murdoch's minions used the contamination of baby drips at a private sector supplier to lambaste the NHS as baby poisoners? Remember when Jonathan Harmsworth's minions at the Daily Mail used the accidental mailing of cancer scare letters by an outsourced, privately operated automated letter sending outfit to slam the NHS?

It's amazing really that despite the drip, drip, drip of "NHS = Bad" propaganda that gets pumped out by the right-wing media, such an overwhelming majority of people still believe that the NHS should be preserved as a not-for-profit public service dedicated to providing health services that are free at the point of need. According to a YouGov poll in 2013 the ratio was 84% in favour of NHS preservation and just 7% in favour of the Tory policy of carving the NHS up for privatisation.


It is clear that the Tories have no public mandate to tear apart the NHS and distribute the pieces to private sector interests (many of which have donated directly to Tory party coffers) but they're busy doing it anyway.

A top Tory has even admitted that the ideal way to ensure that the NHS is privatised and stopped from providing universal coverage is by creating a public impression that it is in chaos

In this sense the de-funding of the NHS, the closure of hospitals and withdrawal of services despite furious local opposition, and the setting up of ideological battles with vital NHS staff (like the junior doctors for example) would seem to be ideal tactics to manufacture the crisis conditions wanted in order to justify ever more ideological attacks on the NHS.

There have always been elements within the Tory party who have hated the concept of socialised health care with a burning ideological passion. In their view the NHS is an abomination; an impediment to their fantasy free-trade utopia, so it simply has to be done away with. It astounds me that anyone could seriously believe the Tories to be responsible custodians of a socialised health care system.


The sad thing is though that some people have allowed their opinions to be poisoned by the drip, drip, drip of misinformation from hacks employed by the likes of Rupert Murdoch and Jonathan Harmsworth. Some people allow themselves to believe that the NHS is catastrophically inefficient and desperately in need of reform, and that large scale privatisation is the solution, when in reality it so clearly is not catastrophically inefficient nor in need of further privatisation into the hands of private health interests, many of which have contributed directly to Tory party coffers.



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