What were people saying about Tories being better with money than Labour?
It’s Labour peer Lord Carter who has suggested that the NHS could save nearly £1.5 billion, every year, simply by getting value for the public money it spends, rather than splurging out all kinds of cash for basic essentials.
He only surveyed 22 hospitals but found that latex gloves cost £5.44 in one and £2.39 in another. How much does it cost to manufacture the flimsy little things? Look ’em up on the Internet and you can get them for £2.90 per box of 100.
Aprons ranged from £2.51 to £4.20. Amazon will get you a pack of 100 for £3.09.
Then, of course, there are the more expensive issues:
Some hip operations are costing more than double the amount that they should, with some expensive replacements not lasting as long as cheaper ones – costing the NHS £17m a year.
Dare one even suggest that this may be a result of privatisation?
Lord Carter reckoned the NHS should get value for money by cutting down the number of product lines it uses. Perhaps he means the service should use the cheapest equipment that is still reliable? Why isn’t this happening already?
He said the NHS could make bulk purchases, achieving significant discounts, to make these savings.
Now, let’s stop and think for a moment. Does anybody else think that maybe this issue could have been prevented if the Conservative Party had not introduced something called the Internal Market in 1990?
With different health authorities buying for themselves, rather than the whole health service achieving the best value, wastage was bound to happen.
The Conservatives are to blame, it seems.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said hospitals should no longer be “paying over the odds for basic items”. “The NHS has huge potential buying power as the world’s biggest buyer of healthcare products, so we should be driving for the best-value deals every time,” he said. “I want to see a seven-day health service that delivers for working people. That means cutting out waste and making sure every penny counts.”
Does this count as an apology for 25 years of neoliberal mismanagement?
If so, when will the misprint-prone Hunt be dismissing wasteful private firms from our health service?
The answer, of course, is never – at least, not under a Conservative government. The privatisation – and the wastefulness that comes with it, will continue until the cost of maintaining the health service becomes the excuse the Tories need to abolish it altogether.
If you voted Conservative, it’s what you wanted!
The funding gap is expected to reach £30 billion by 2020, meaning Carter’s savings are unlikely to make a huge difference.
Reorganising the service to get best value across the board – including kicking out overcharging, underperforming and postcode lottery-creating privateers – might just help.
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