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Thursday 2 January 2014

Liam Fox Flies NHS Bashing Kite

Still touted as a “senior Tory”, disgraced former minister Liam Fox, who has once again been leveraging his past experience as a GP, has gone running to the Murdoch Times with an exercise which he will no doubt claim is about allowing debate about the NHS, but which in reality is an evidence-free tirade of reusing unsupported quotes to bash the service.
So we see headlines such as “Liam Fox: 'Wasteful' NHS should not have funding ringfenced”, which are not supported by anything more substantial than hot air. Fox blusters that “If you treat the National Health Service itself as being the important entity, and not the patients, then you're on a hiding to nothing”. And where does this happen, except in the minds of Fox and Rupe’s hacks?

Still, on he ploughs: “I think we've tested to destruction the idea that simply throwing lots more money at the health service will make it better. The increase over the last decade has been phenomenal and yet a lot of our health indicators lag behind other countries, particular things like stroke outcome or a lot of cancer outcomes”. But that does not demonstrate the efficiency of the NHS.

It’s entirely possible that other countries are spending more on healthcare, not least the USA, where almost twice the percentage of GDP is spent, and for marginally less good overall outcomes, than the UK. Zelo Street regulars with long memories may recall that the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) did a hatchet job on the NHS back in October 2011 which trod much of the same ground.

This claimed the NHS was “wasting lives”, but failed to point out that the countries that did better spent a lot more money to achieve that improvement. And sadly for the TPA, earlier in that year, a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine showedthe NHS saving more lives for each pound spent as a proportion of national wealth than any other country apart from Ireland over 25 years”.

One of those involved with the study observed “The government proposals to change the NHS are largely based on the idea that the NHS is less efficient and effective than other countries, especially the US ... The results question why we need a big set of health reform proposals ... The system works well. Look at the US and you can see where choice and competition gets you. Pretty dismal results”.

Either the NHS has become massively less efficient in the intervening two and a half years, or when Fox asserts “Anybody who has worked with or around the NHS knows there is still a huge amount of waste associated with it” he is peddling arguments fuelled merely by soundbites and without any basis in fact. But then, Liam Fox is a fan of anything coming out of the USA, good, bad or indifferent.

By all means let’s have a debate. But let’s also stick to the facts, eh Liam?

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