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Wednesday 19 August 2015

City AM NHS Attack Busted

This week has seen the accession to the editor’s chair at freesheet City AM of Christian May, someone with no experience as a journalist, who used to be chief spinner for the Institute of Directors. May may not have the background that one might expect for such a job, but his ideological orientation is an excellent fit for the publication, and that, it seems, is rather more important to those who run this publication.
Christian May. And some bloke they got in to present the awards

To enhance the appeal of the paper, May has enlisted the assistance of a variety of contributors, including one Ryan Bourne, who is head of public policy at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA). He is, let us not drive this one around the houses for too long, another of those Clever People Who Talk Loudly In Restaurants. Being a devotee of free markets for absolutely everything, Bourne has decided to talk about free markets.

Does NHS Survival have patients in mind? The only way to truly save the NHS is to liberate it from state control” he tells, taking aim at a group which is “Backed by many of the same people who cherry-pick the Commonwealth Fund report to claim the NHS is just super”. That would be interesting: the Commonwealth Fund report - oft cited by Young Dave - does not picture the NHS in that way. But it does praise its value for money.

What is NHS Survival, which Bourne so clearly dislikes, for? “We are told that it wants an ‘independent body’ (presumably stuffed with NHS staff)”. You don’t know? TRY DOING SOME RESEARCH. But Bourne does know that he wants to see the NHS “depoliticised”: “If you really want to see depoliticisation, look to countries with more pluralistic provision, such as the Netherlands”. And what is the result of that, pray?

Most measurable patient outcomes are better … Hospitals are truly accountable, because patients get proper choice”. Ah, the illusion of choice, the watchword of the Friedmanite disciple. What Bourne also wants his readers to know is that the NHS is not being sold off “unlike in Germany, where hospitals really were privatised in the 1990s”. The suggestion here is that the Netherlands and Germany are somehow better than the NHS.

So perhaps we should check out the numbers (these figures are from 2012): in the UK, the percentage of GDP spent on healthcare is 9.6, as opposed to 11.9 in the Netherlands and 11.6 in Germany. Total Sterling equivalent healthcare spending per person is 3,480, as opposed to 5,038 in the Netherlands and 4,332 in Germany. Put directly, those countries bloody well should do better than the UK - they spend a lot more.

And we cannot leave this discussion without chucking in the figures for the USA: 17.9% of GDP and £8,362 equivalent total healthcare spend per person. Bourne’s blether masks the rather obvious reality: you want better outcomes than the NHS provides, fine, it costs more. It does not matter whether that is private or public money - it still costs more. Picking on an interest group and loudly proclaiming “look over there” does not alter the fact.

Christian May called this lame recycling of dogma a “Brilliant Column”. Still, it’s early days yet. Perhaps City AM readers only look in for the sport.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The tories of will continue to lie in their teeth that they don't want to privatise the NHS. But it will remain a wet dream of theirs, all of it promoted by Yanks and other "health" spivs waiting in the wings, mouths slavering for the profits they could make from illness and death.

Meantime, tories and neocons (that includes New Labour) will continue to undermine the NHS by keeping it short of adequate necessary funding and management. The management and other apparatchiks they DO put in place will be employed to run the system accordingly, and "manage" its decline.

They will Salami Slice the whole service gradually because they know full well if they asked the country if it would prefer a Yank style spiv system the answer would be a definitive NO.

Hence neocon junior bureaucrats like May and his ilk following orders. You know, like the defendants in the Nuremberg trials 1945-50.

There's nothing new about it. There never is about evil.