‘We CAN afford the NHS – but we can’t afford the government’s mishandling of it’

Suppose we stopped spending the £22+ billion on privatisation and bureaucracy, and focused on the things that cause large drains on NHS resources?

This Writer reckons we could end up with a much – much – cheaper health service, and one against which Conservatives would have no viable argument.

It is a point that needs to be made. Every time Jeremy Hunt, or a Health department spokesperson, pop their head above the parapet, we need to be asking why the government is wasting £22 billion on privatisation and bureaucracy.

It’s 2017. Let’s bring the political debate back to reality.

Read about the NHS in the media, and you’ll find plenty of comments about how expensive the NHS is. Just the other day, BBC health correspondent Nick Triggle was referring to ministers being ‘frightened’ by ‘how much cash the NHS is swallowing’. The prevailing idea is that we’re already spending too much, and that the government is having to be tough and draw a line.

The NHS certainly needs more money to continue in its current form. Virtually every NHS Trust in England is now in deficit. If it were just a few isolated cases, you might blame poor financial stewardship. But, as the King’s Fund states, for the vast majority to suffer a shortfall indicates that central funding isn’t keeping pace with the demand for healthcare services.

Based on the fact that NHS trusts were balancing their books up until 2012/13, NHAspace previously calculated that the NHS is currently underfunded to the tune of £15bn. This assumes that the cost of running the NHS had increased by around 4% each year, which is the historical trend. But can we afford to put in this extra funding?

The simple answer is yes.

According to the OECD and WHO datasets, the UK still spends less (both per capita and as a % of GDP) on healthcare than France, Germany, Austria, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Canada, Japan, and various other western nations. Per capita, the NHS costs less than half as much as the US healthcare system. But there’s no need to match US spending! Even with an additional £15bn per year, we’d still be lagging behind France’s expenditure per head of population.

The final question then – is the funding reaching the front line?

Between marketisation, PFI loans and agency costs, at least £10bn a year of NHS funding is being diverted. (And that’s in addition to the £12.2bn or more being handed to the private sector each year to run the outsourced NHS services.)

We can afford the NHS, but we can’t afford the government’s mishandling of it.

Source: Let’s End The NHS “Bottomless Money Pit” Myth | NHAspace

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5 thoughts on “‘We CAN afford the NHS – but we can’t afford the government’s mishandling of it’

  1. Barry Davies

    Been saying this for years every top down reorganisation seems to be to increase bureaucracy and cut frontline staff or “outsource them and certain services” this has been the case ever since the Area health authorities were rightly axed but the district health authorities ran the service more equitably and responsibly than the ever burgeoning authorities that were introduced because of trust status have ever managed to do.

  2. Mervyn Hyde (@mjh0421)

    Thank you for highlighting this issue Mike.

    To reiterate what you say first here is an OECD data sheet that shows the international cost comparisons between the NHS and the rest of the world.


    The important point to note, is that this data sheet refers to 2001 which is in fact prior to the privatisation and introduction of the market into the NHS by none other than Simon Stevens for New Labour.

    Your second point about hospital beds is vital to understand how that over the last twenty to thirty years these Neo-Liberal politicians have pursued Thatcher’s policy of shrinking the state. As a local 38 degrees group we surveyed the amount of hospitals that have been closed down or reduced in capacity over the last 20-30 years. In Gloucestershire we have closed down at least 23 hospitals around the county, where some hospitals were, we now have housing estates….. in a few cases such as a cottage hospital in Tewkesbury, they closed it down with a bed capacity of 48 and reopened a new build with only 20 beds. Less than half replaced the previous amount. This has been an asset stripping exercise dressed up as modernisation.
    When people wonder why we have difficulty in coping with mental health, a number of mental institutions have been replaced with just one facility that has to cope with all of Gloucestershire’s needs Coney hill hospital had many hundreds of beds and was the largest hospital next to the Gloucester Royal. It is now of course a very large private housing estate.

    These are the actual results of our survey:

    Hospital closures in Gloucestershire
    Hospital Name Type Comments

    Over Hospital Closed 1991
    Horton Road Mental Transferred to Wotton Lawn – reduced capacity
    Southgate St (Glos Royal) Closed 1982
    Manor House Nursing Home Closed 1977
    Coney Hill Mental Closed 1995
    Trans to Wotton Lawn – reduced capacity
    Maternity Rebuilt: planned 4 floors, 3 built

    Maternity Closed 1975
    Watermoor Geriatric Closed 1975

    Berkeley Transferred to Dursley – reduced capacity
    Bourton-on-the-Water Geriatric Closed – downgraded to clinic 2014

    Battledown Pediatric Closed 2006
    Maternity Closed 1982
    Delancey Geriatric Closed 2011
    Salterley Grange Chest Closed 1970
    St Paul’s Maternity Closed 1982

    Holm Geriatric Closed 1980
    Tewkesbury From 2013 [Reduced capacity]

    Cashes Green Geriatric Transferred to Stroud – reduced capacity
    St Mary’s, Painswick Mental/Geriatric? Closed 2001?
    Standish Closed 2004

    Frenchay, Bristol Trans to Southmead 2014 – reduced capacity
    St Margaret’s, Swindon Trans to Gt Western 2002 – reduced capacity

    I’m sure that if questioned about these closures the government and proponents of private health would have a myriad of reasons to explain it, but the facts are, that bed capacities can’t be explained away quite so easily and demonstrate unequivocally what the trend has always been….. reduce sizes to bite size chunks to enable the private sector to buy in. We also did a similar exercise with the Ambulance station closures, if people wonder why there are fewer ambulances at a time when they pretend that demand is increasing, real reason of course is the shrinking budgets and fewer facilities near by, making longer journeys and longer waiting tomes for ambulances. None of this is rocket science but is pure deception.

    People need to understand a few simple facts of life and that is; the private sector is purely concerned about delivering profit to themselves, the more work they put in the less value they get out, health delivery does not work to a formula, people get unwell and better not through choice, but as individuals, and it takes as long as it takes.

    People generate wealth and are the real economy, it isn’t those mega rich people that sit on mountains of cash. When ordinary people and the government stop spending the economy dies, where are all those entrepreneurs that Thatcher promised us?…….along with the rest of the mythology, all looking to make a fast buck in richer pastures.

    We can afford our NHS and history shows it, what we have been bedevilled with is Neo-Liberal politicians working for corporate interests against those of the people they are supposed to represent.

  3. Jeffrey Davies

    the money for the nhs is wasted by them giving it to atos crapita serco virgin health maximus there are very many private companies dipping into the nhs monies

  4. Christine Bergin

    Read a blog (somewhere) several years ago with excellent graphics showing the links between the various think tanks and lobbyists and the many papers written over the years since the last tory govt which showed in detail how to destabilise, defund and destroy the NHS. I also remember that Lansly’s name was well know in this circle of hell. My conclusion is that that this has been a well planned and financed destruction with help from American subversives to gut the NHS. The proof will be found when you can follow the money and find out which of our MPs have had their hands out and filled with shares and favours. Hunt of course, is no longer responsible for anything so why is he still getting an enhanced salary with all the perks?

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