Tuesday, June 16, 2009

NHS: Stop Worshipping, Start Talking

Barack Obama on the US Healthcare System:
"A big part of what led General Motors and Chrysler into trouble were the huge costs they racked up providing healthcare for their workers - costs that made them less profitable and less competitive with automakers around the world."

"If we do not fix our health care system, America may go the way of GM - paying more, getting less, and going broke"
Whilst I'm not sure about Obama's solutions to America's healthcare problems, it is refreshing to see someone speaking so openly about the problems facing a country's healthcare system.If nothing else, then Obama has started a debate about healthcare in his country. Put simply, we don't get the same level of honesty from the leading politicians in the UK.

The Tories seemed to have discovered that they can talk about spending cuts again, but they are doing so in such a tentative way that it is pretty much meaningless. And no-one of any power in any of the main parties seems to have that massive drain on public funds that is the NHS in their sights. 

There should be nothing wrong with talking about fundamental to reform to all aspects of the NHS, including funding. Billions are spent on an institution that, whilst being free at the point of service, delivers a horrifically poor - and sometimes lethal - service to the taxpayer it is such a drain on. Dirty hospitals, computer systems that don't work, life-saving drugs being denied to patients - these are the signs of a bureaucratic monster that is out of control and in desperate need of reform. Hell, I believe that we would almost be better razing the NHS to the ground (metaphorically, people - I'm not talking about burning hospitals here) and starting again with a system that wasn't designed by socialists over half a century ago.

Yet the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems all treat the NHS with a reverence that one normally only sees with Catholics when they are talking about the Pope. The great triumph of socialism in this country - and all those who favour a state led system over anything else - is the seemingly permanent removal of the NHS from the realms of political and public debate. Anyone talking about reform to this supposed public service is shunned like a paedophile with leprosy; thus denying us discussions about one of the most expensive and important of government run institutions. 

You can throw money at the NHS to no avail. You can parachute managers and computer systems into it, and get nothing in return. This isn't criticising doctors and nurses who work within in the system (and are often amongst the most despairing of it), but increasingly, giving the NHS funding is throwing good money after bad. And billions of pounds worth of money as well. 

I look forward to a day when a party genuinely tries to be radical by proposing massive reform to every aspect of the NHS - including reducing the funding. Come on, you crazy kids in Parliament - you all want to be like Barack Obama in your rhetoric and your spurious talk of change. Don't keep us waiting - you can be like him right here, right now by acknowledging that there is something wrong with the NHS that only a radical change can solve. 

But as with anything that requires an iota of courage from our politicians, I wouldn't be holding by breath whilst I wait...

Labels: , , ,


At 1:10 pm , Anonymous Richard Wellings said...

If there is a positive aspect to the dire state of the public finances, it is that it may force the politicians to deal at last with the bloated and inefficient NHS. Health is such a large element of government spending that cuts will almost certainly be necessary to help balance the books. This will happen just as the baby boomers are hitting old age, creating immense pressure on the current system. Radical reform, towards a market-based system, may be the only way to avoid a significant fall in the quality of treatment.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home