NHS – A modern Anglo Saxon religion?

For decades now, spineless politicians refuse to state the truth about the NHS.  Every conversation starts with how wonderful it is, how wonderful are all those who work within it, how it must be protected from anyone who might raise a criticism, those who criticise it are out to destroy it, their goal is to condemn millions of vulnerable and elderly folks and their precious progeny to a painful and untimely death whilst the nasty Tories step over the piles of dead bodies strewn across every pavement in every city in the land on their way to the bank to cash their big fat cheques…..morons.  The politicians, I mean, the rest are simply playing out the story line they’ve been led to through lack of intelligent leadership.

Of course those that work within the NHS are wonderful.  They are our fellow human beings and by taking up this job they have illustrated that they might have an elevated degree of compassion and caring in their character, by comparison to the rest of us.  Most people have within then the capacity to be good at their jobs and the best way to squash it out of them and turn them into whinging, lead-swinging, unionised, bolshie ingrates is to force them to work in a nightmarish bureaucracy like the NHS, bloated with 1.5-1.7 million employees depending whose stats you believe.  If it were a country the NHS would rank as the 151st largest out of 198, larger than Estonia, Bahrain and many others, forty-seven others to be precise.  On another measure, that of the United Nations, out of 195 countries ranked by GDP, the expenditure of the NHS at a planned level for 2015/16 of £116.574bn would rank it 54th.  The 54th largest country out of 195.  Or put it another way, 141 countries support their entire population in every respect, every grain of rice they eat, every school book they use, every road built and maintained, every litre of fuel burned, every TV screen watched, every penny each individual earns, or that is saved in the bank or invested into industry, every single drop of water they drink – oh and their healthcare expenditure too – accounts for less money than we spend on the NHS.  One hundred and forty one countries…..one hundred and sixteen BILLION pounds, 116,000,000,000 pounds.  One thousand eight hundred pounds for each man, woman and child in the country.

Now, we’re a rich country, ranked fifth or sixth in the world depending on which table you rely.  So it stands to reason we can spend a lot of money on our healthcare, right?  Sure but it’s you that has to pay for it one way or another and here’s the problem, we live in what is politely and far too frequently described as a democracy.  That’s why all those politicians are saying such lovely things about all those lovely people working in our NHS, any less and, far from being elected, they’d be rounded up and marched to the nearest bonfire by hordes of flaming-torch-waving vigilantes.  It’s also why none of them ever got elected by saying that we need you to pay some more taxes so we can keep propping up the insatiable beast that is the NHS – poll after poll says people would be willing to pay for that but on election day we all get an attack of common sense and vote for the other lot.  As the old saying goes, ya pays yer money an’ ya takes yer choice.

You can’t turn around these days without bumping into some commentator or another deriding some fundamentalist somewhere who so believes the propaganda of their chosen voodoo that they are willing to kill others in its name.  Of course, we Anglo Saxons are over all that aren’t we.  We’ve had a couple of thousand years of civilisation to think this through and in the tail end of that, the last 50-60 years in particular, a few of us started to realise that this was, well, not entirely kosher.  We deride all theisms with pretty much equal vigour, admittedly we’re a little tougher on the muslim faith – fair enough – but if you dare say one word against the NHS, now THAT is blasphemy!  In fact, don’t say anything against it, just suggest that it might be a little better, perhaps, it might save a little money, possibly, the staff might actually treat us like respectable human beings, maybe, if only we talked to the private sector to see if we could make it, well, better.  Oh boy!  Run, run like the wind, they’ve got their scythes, their pitchforks, their flaming torches and they are coming – for YOU!


So, that proves it then.  The NHS is the best because I’ll kill you if you disagree, at least, I won’t vote for you and to a politician that’s almost worse.

Remember that annual cost per man, woman and child of £1,800?  The average age in the UK is currently 40 years, no really!  So if you were a forty year old person with a forty year old partner and let’s say you’ve got two kids of around ten years old, then that’s costing you £7,200/annum.  Sorry, it’s costing all of us £7,200/annum to look after the four of you.  On the other hand, according to moneysupermarket.com today, you could go and buy your own private comprehensive healthcare insurance from one of the top leading brands (one I can personally vouch for as having paid to save my life, twice, without batting an eyelid) and you could insure your whole family for just £2,800 or £701/each a year and save four thousand four hundred pounds – after tax!  I say, “after tax” because despite the fact that we’re already paying for the NHS through our taxes, those of us that ALSO pay privately, on top of our taxes, don’t even get any relief for sparing the rest of you from having to pick up the cost of our debauched lifestyles.

So what happens the minute anyone voices a sequence of words, formed into a phrase or sentence that might possibly imply leveraging the benefits of private industry to improve our health service?  Prior to the burning and lynching of course, which takes a little longer to organise.  Well, it stimulates morons and ignoramuses like Ken Livingstone on http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06qjnxw/question-time-26112015 to utter the immortal words: “The simple fact is that if we privatise the health system the profit that the companies take out will either have to come by increasing what we spend on it…” as opposed to the other possibility of spending it better. And “the reason why we’re not doing as well as Germany and France is that we aren’t spending as much as Germany and France”

“..but we tried this, Tony Blair got the private sector to provide the building of hospitals and then we basically rent them, it’s cost us 4-6 times more than if we’d bought them and done them ourselves” he went on.

Well, no-one’s going to argue over the insanity of asking politicians and bureaucrats to negotiate bad lease agreements on our most precious assets when we could have done much better if we’d done what governments are there for and borrowed the money on the open market but, to suggest that this has anything to do with using private enterprise to provide healthcare is, well, a little off topic, Ken and a perfect example of the lack of clever people in politics.

On the other hand, that amazing young American woman, Kate Andrews of the Adam Smith Institute (never dreamed I’d be mentioning them in a good light) had some stunning and insightful words that I never thought I’d hear uttered on the BBC.  Amongst the gems:

“The NHS is wildly out of date.”

“It’s not able to deal with those burdens anymore and it hasn’t been for a long time.”

“What Britain has seen is a serious drop in the quality of healthcare that it’s bringing to its people. It is sub-standard compared to its neighbours.”

“The NHS does not need to become privatised.  The government can continue to pay for healthcare and ensure everyone can afford [access] healthcare but what it has to let go of is this idea that the government is the best system to be the provision of healthcare.  They might be good with the money but someone else is better at running my CAT [CT] scan.

The important thing is that everyone gets access to that healthcare but they get to choose where they get it and if you choose where you get it you tend to get better service.  The UK is the third least efficient in the OECD.”

Kate, https://twitter.com/KateAndrs not only do I love you for saying those things I want the UK to marry you and for you to be the mother of all its children.  Thank YOU!

In a desperate bid to prove the lack of clever people in politics I received this https://twitter.com/Debbie_abrahams/status/670286841212493824 tweet from one delusional labour MP https://twitter.com/Debbie_abrahams whose “scientific evidence” for the superlative performance of state healthcare over private was the report she wrote of an inquiry she chaired on behalf of the labour party propaganda machine in the run-up to the last election.  Well, that’s that then, I stand corrected.

One day when I’m all fired up and you all want to be bored shitless then I will begin documenting the litany of appalling NHS experiences upon which a portion of my opinion on the NHS is based.  It’s a series of long and sorry tales of sometimes haplessness and sometimes arrogant ignorance which would be funny if they didn’t involve the potential loss of limbs, liberty and life that would surely have ensued had they been left to their own devices or, to put it another way, if I had bowed to their superior knowledge and skills.  Beware of experts, whatever else you do, beware of experts.  Question all, educate yourself, trust no one blindly, assume there’s always a better option or at least another option and make sure that you let them know that you and the professionals are partners in the process, not just actors and audience.

Don’t buy their voodoo or anyone else’s.

I’ve had the recipe for the new NHS for many years, I once sent it to Tony Blair but we don’t talk about him in polite circles, not any more.  It’s free at the point of use, funded from taxation, inspected, monitored and measured by central government and delivered by a plethora of small, manageable, intelligently run competitive businesses all vying to attract custom by being the best provider with the highest reputation for quality care and great service delivery.  Radical?  Not really but I’d be stoned to death if I dared spell it out in a public forum – what do you mean this blog is on view to the entire planet, how was I supposed to know that!?!