My colleague Dr Tim Morgan has just blogged on the subject of the cost and dysfunctional behaviour of public sector services in general and the NHS in particular:
I have been writing and talking about the dysfunctional nature of the NHS and the need to curb its spending rather than treat is a sacred cow at least since writing the following article for The Daily Telegraph in April 2009:
In it I said ‘At some point someone is going to have to confess that the NHS can only deal with items such as A&E, pregnancy and cancer. Everything else will have to be privately insured. Those who are government employees will have to lose their jobs and/or take pay cuts (not to mention pension cuts). But I doubt Chancellor Darling will be telling us this on Wednesday.’
I hope that the current furore over Mid Staffs NHS disaster may have punctured some of the ridiculous adulation of the NHS. The fact is that better care is available in a number of other countries which have not opted for the NHS free at point of use model: for example France, Holland and Singapore all have superior performance.
Tim Morgan is right. Ironically, seemingly limitless spending and staff has not improved the NHS performance, it has made it worse. But then any decent manager in business could tell you that granting wishes for limitless capital expenditure and/or staffing will make an organisation’s performance worse not better. My favourite anecdote from the NHS farce which illustrates this is the NHS procurement quango whose purpose included saving money and which went about this by leasing luxury cars for its staff including a BMW convertible, an Audi TT and Range Rovers:
As the saying goes, if you made it up, no one would believe you.
Perhaps not coincidentally this NHS quango is funded by the Scottish Government.
But my views drew the usual knee jerk from those who would support any aspect of the welfare state or Labour policy no matter how ludicrous. My favourite was the senior Labour politician I met towards the end of 2012 who told me that my views on the NHS were derived from The Daily Mail. It is hard to see how that is possible given that I don’t read The Daily Mail, but I wonder if his strident and mindless defence of the NHS has suffered any revision as a result of recent events. Sadly, probably not, after all why spoil an opinion by considering the facts.