Watch: Hannan again! Slams ‘inferior’ NHS

3:45 pm - December 27th 2009

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Daniel Hannan MEP, anxious to grow his profile in the United States, keeps giving interviews to right-wing nuts in there slamming the NHS, this time as ‘demonstrably inferior’ to the United States system.

[via Dave Cole]

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Looks reasonabe to me. He suggests the American healthcare system is far from perfect and advocates increasing consumer sovereignty (something America desperately needs).

Great news – I demand that this prancing tit be given plenty of access to primetime television so that he can expound his views for the British public.

I strongly urge the Tories to elevate Hannan to a prominent position and to push him as their spokesman. Shove the sucker in front of the cameras then force him to defend some of his loonier statements – ten seconds in, he’ll be gabbling and sweating like he’s just been caught watching bumsex videos by the vicar.

The NHS didn’t start up until 1948, not 1944 Hannan

He might be referring to the publication of the White paper when the idea of a “National Health Service” became popularised:

Funny, he neglects to mention that there is massive public support for the idea of a free-at-point-of-use NHS.

But I guess if facts don’t fit the narrative they can always be twisted to suit Mr Hannan.

Looks reasonabe to me

Then you are gibberingly insane.

a) he lies, repeatedly, that the NHS has a total monopoly, rather than the truth that anyone who can afford to pay to go private can do so (he also implies that private healthcare is more expensive in the UK than in the US, which is a lie, and that people who are receiving private treatment are not eligible for NHS treatment, which is a revolting lie).

b) he lies, repeatedly, that rationing in the NHS is done on the basis of queue and cost, rather than the basis of clinical need and efficacy.

c) he lies, repeatedly, that healthcare outcomes in the UK are worse than in the US.

Daniel Hannan should be drummed out of parliament (European parliament) and horsewhipped through town for this kind of sick libel.

The font of received wisdom is back.

a) He doesn’t say the NHS has a total monopoly, it is near it, which is true.

b) Amounts to the same thing. Cost/efficacy is equivalent and clinical need plays a role in deciding how the queue is formed, but there is a fucking big queue for a lot of things.

c) Is arguably true, even for the poor in the US. That you are more likely to be bankrupt by treatment in the US (which is rightly condemned) is not, in itself, a clinical outcome.


er…no, the NHS does *not* have a “near-total monopoly”. If you believe that, then you’ve been asleep (or at the very least nowhere near a medical facility) for the last 20 years. Tiny bit of effort with Google will confirm this – please don’t take my word for it.

Now, to be fair, if you want to limit the question of provision to A&E only, then yes, certainly – A&E costs a lot – so much so that many NHS hospitals have closed-down their departments, but that’s about it as far as “monopoly” supply goes.

as for (b), oh come on…yer a bit glib here. Yes, there are queues (shock, surprise), but ‘cost’ & ‘efficacy’ are *not* equivalent – measuring ‘efficacy’ has an outcome component, within which the specific ‘costs’ to the service may vary greatly. Now, some treatment costs are capped, yes, but claiming that amounts to equivalence is plainly wrong. (Hannan should have a chat with NICE, to help him understand the complexity of this issue)

Maybe you and Johnb could produce reliable stats to decide (c) ? Just a thought.

“Anecdotal-not-data” time – I’ve experienced both NHS & US healthcare (in similar, medium-scale urban environments), and the treatment was of similar quality (although over there it was a case of get to the clinic, here it was say ‘hi!’ to the paramedics, which was much quicker – small monkey requiring head wound sutures both times…)

Only the US version charged my travel insurance £145 – and that would have been double if I hadn’t paid the clinic up front, then claimed it back after the trip.

“Only the US version charged my travel insurance £145 – and that would have been double if I hadn’t paid the clinic up front, then claimed it back after the trip.”

Well someone somewhere gets charged for all healthcare, unless the clinicians are working for free. And if the costs of your health care are internalised to your health insurer, then I regard that as a good thing. Unless you think travel insurers are somehow a hard-done-by group.

In general, I don’t want to give the impression that I am defending the US health care system. It is ridiculously expensive and hardly the best system out there. However, there is some evidence that its clinincal outcomes are superior to other developed countries, when you are measuring conditions that are more amenable to healthcare intervention than to lifestyle change. Take this recent study for example:

@7,8 someone who says US healthcare is superior in overall outcomes to UK healthcare is dishonest. Someone who says UK healthcare is superior in overall outcomes to US healthcare is dishonest. By cherrypicking unrepresentative studies you can make a case for either argument, but in either case it’s dishonest – you can’t make conclusions like that based on the available evidence. Hence, Hannan’s assertion is dishonest. All we can conclude based on the overall weight of evidence is that they’re about the same on aggregate, but the US one is vastly more expensive and less egalitarian.

Andy G clarifies well on points 1 and 2.

Ahh, here we are again – Hannan and the NHS. Look, guys can you not just accept that he doesn’t like the way the NHS is run but that he does support the idea of taxpayer funded healthcare for the poor?

What I think really bugs you guys is that you know he’s right about 5-year cancer survival rates but you can’t bear any criticism of our glorious socialised healthcare. You can’t match up the belief that the NHS is the envy of the world with the fact that our cancer treatment is sub-standard and rather than alter the belief, you choose to ignore the fact.

@11 read up on the distinction between “facts” and “halfwitted right-wing dogma”; at that point, you might have something to contribute.

This guy makes my skin crawl

Well it sounds to me more like Hannan is taking a particular but defensible position on a controversial topic. Not lying. Concentrating on amenable conditions isn’t exactly cherrypicking; it happens to be a good way of abstracting from the manifold of lifestyle factors which also affect life expectancy.

Here is another study that has a couple of tables that illustrates the point better:

You’ll notice that the US has worse overall outcomes in terms of life expectancy than the UK. Once you factor in amenable mortality, the US stays more or less the same, while the UK flips over the US and goes considerably down the OECD rank. Both countries have pretty poor outcomes compared to the rest, it just happens that the UK’s NHS appeared (back in 2000 anyway) to be adding rather a lot less value than the US system. This is far from the only way of measuring a health system, but it doesn’t strike me as outright dishonest to take a view on the basis of these sort of measures.

Hannan is a slime.

I honestly think he sees more money in US TV deals than politics and no doubt will be off soon.


Again you aren’t discussing the facts. The point is that our 5-year cancer survival rates are worse than America, in this instance, and pretty much the rest of the world in general. I don’t see how that can be termed as “halfwitted right-wing dogma”. Now, had I suggested that we should privatise the health-system because allowing profits would lead to improved care then perhaps you could describe it as “halfwitted right-wing dogma”. But that’s not what I said.

If we’re going to debate in facts show me some where, for instance, the success of treatment received in the UK is among the best in the world. Then we could discuss why the NHS struggles to match that world-class performance in cancer care and whether there was anything that could be done about it.


No, he’s a politician. If you can show me a politician who, when asked, refuses to give his opinion on a matter he feels strongly about then… well you’re probably showing me one who wants to be a minister. Politicians resigned to backbench life will tell you their opinion every time, if you ask for it. Is that ‘slime’? Perhaps, but then Hannan is no more guilty of it than others. But isn’t it amazing that US talk shows don’t manage to get politicians from the UK on to talk about the good parts of socialised medicine? You’d think there’d be some sense in that debate too.

17 You are cherry picking illnesses.

Lets all do that, but then again there is no need:

we live longer in the UK, our heath care costs significantly less than that in the us, everyone is covered and we don’t have to worry about money when we get ill.

“we live longer in the UK, our heath care costs significantly less than that in the us, everyone is covered and we don’t have to worry about money when we get ill.”

Not necessarily. My partner needed to lay down cash for an MRI scan that her GP was unprepared to commission, and is keeping £7,000 aside in case the NHS fails to provide surgery for a very disabling condition she is suffering from.

The point we are making is the fact that we live longer doesn’t have all that much to do with the quality of our healthcare.

Hannan is scum!

no 19 “not necessarily”

Yes fact. We live longer in the UK. How on earth is that “not necessarily”?

We, the people, don’t want US style health care over here and people like Hannan can get lost.

We don’t realise how lucky we are!!!!!!!!!!

Nick @ 19,

I am sorry that you partner isn’t being provided with these services free at the point of use. I’d rather advocate a service where they were free at the point of use rather than the American one where it appears to be a complete lottery, based on wealth……

Do you see the difference?

My partner needed to lay down cash for an MRI scan that her GP was unprepared to commission

If her GP was unprepared to commission it, that’s because she didn’t need it.

and is keeping £7,000 aside in case the NHS fails to provide surgery for a very disabling condition she is suffering from.

If it’s a very disabling conditition, then the NHS will provide surgery for it.

@17 UK cancer survival times from detection are behind the US for two reasons:

– US GPs are incentivised (by the fact that they aren’t held to budget but can easily be sued) to err on the side of commissioning unnecessary tests and scans whenever patients visit for a checkup. Therefore, cancers in the US tend to be detected slightly earlier than in the UK, in random tests rather than in tests based on symptoms. This obviously has a direct impact on survival time from detection, even though survival time from getting the cancer is the same (there is also some real impact in catching the cancer earlier, although this tends to be small).

– cutting-edge treatment in the terminal stages of most cancers is vastly expensive, in exchange for at best a few months of low-quality life.

Cancer is a disease where spending colossal amounts of money raises reported survival rates. The NHS is based on not spending colossal amounts of money. The US system is based on spending colossal amounts of money.

Therefore, choosing cancer (rather than heart disease, infectious disease, trauma…) is really really obviously a cherrypicked measure to favour the US system over the NHS.

John B

That was my point. The fact is that UK cancer survival rates are worse than the US (and many other countries for that matter). You say I’m cherry-picking but I’m not out-and-out criticising the NHS for that. What we need to do is ask what can be done to improve those survival rates (I’m sure we all accept that improved survival rates are a good thing). If reform of the system is required then we need that debate too.

Oh, and on heart disease

Around 6.3 per cent of patients who have suffered a heart attack have passed away within 30 days of entering a British hospital – significantly higher than the 4.3 per cent [OECD-wide] average.

So we’re not great at that one either….

I’m sure we all accept that improved survival rates are a good thing

Yes, all other things being equal. However, I think that the survival rates we get for our money in the UK are about right.

(that Telegraph piece is hilarious loonery. “The figures also show that British life expectancy is much lower than our nearest neighbours. Men in this country can expect to live to 79 years and six months, against 81 years in France.” Yes – 1.9% is *massive*).

The “not necessarily” part referred to the fact that you might still have to pay even in the UK.

Douglas Clark – As I said before, I am not advocating the US system so you are not really meeting my points. I have said that US happens to work out better on a number of clinical outcomes than the UK. But both are fairly mediocre so I would suggest we look to the more competitive markets in healthcare that are used in Europe instead to produce rather better results.

John B – I think you are being rather naive. The MRI scan was needed to discover if, in fact, she needed greater intervention. The GP wasn’t in any position to judge how serious her condition was or indeed, what it was. In the rest of Europe, it would be perfectly normal to have an MRI scan quickly in order to get an idea what is going on. Instead, we had to deploy cash and the middle class “voice” in order to get anything like acceptable treatment.

This actually bears on the equity of the NHS too. It is well established that middle class people in the UK get more money spent on them by the NHS as a whole, and many people think this is because they are more capable of requesting (assertively if necessary) the treatment they are due. In the end, with some extra money and some haggling with the doctors, my partner and I are able to get something like the best treatment in the world (a little late). But that is not the standard NHS package, which would have been “wait 3 weeks” and then come back for several weeks. All standard care pathways point away from seeing specialists.

The GP wasn’t in any position to judge how serious her condition was or indeed, what it was.

Presumably the GP didn’t agree with this assessment in their professional judgement, otherwise they would have commissioned the MRI.

Actually, she claimed she wasn’t even “allowed” to commission an MRI, which we later discovered was bullshit. Lying doesn’t do much for their authority.

But I can see where the disagreement is emerging here. You seem quite prepared to accept a GP’s 30 second decision as impartial and presumptively more valuable than our information, whereas I am more suspicious, that they are far from perfect and that institutional factors might be affecting their decision. Now if pushy middle class people are able to extract better health outcomes from the NHS, and I think they can quite often, then I think my view has something to it.


I have a friend who works in the NHS and the stories he tells me about the way some GPs act makes you wonder. Although not every GP does this, there are many out there who will do the absolute bare minimum needed to get their money. So, in Nick’s case the GP just makes things up about not being allowed to commission an MRI (when the real reason is they couldn’t be bothered with the hassle of it and any follow up appointments) but counts as having seen the patient so will get their money.

Nick, I hope you have reported this GP to whoever needs telling. I wonder though, would the GP have miraculously changed her mind if you got her to put into writing her claims about not being allowed to commission an MRI.

32. Richard Blogger

ha ha the video starts with the caption:

Daniel Hannan British Government Official

Yeah that’s right, Dan Hannan is going to be Cameron’s Secretary of State for Health!

(OK, I accept that the “U.S. Citizens Association” are an amateurish bunch of halfwits, and my apologies to those who suffered a heart flutter after reading the above.)

I wish I had the money to take that creep to court, he spouts so many lies about waiting lists. Where is Cameron’s leadership? Calling him merely “eccentric” just shows that Cameron has no control over his party.

I’m barely listening to his drivel – waiting times and queues: how many surgeries does he think surgeons can physically do in a day? If one’s hip needs replacing *now* (because, say, you can’t walk to the toilet or it’s broken or suchlike) you’re taken to hospital, checked for your medical suitability for surgery, then operated on. No waiting required, though having seen an elderly woman struggle through a week of struggling to the bathroom (and refusing to go to hospital, with everyone telling her to go) I can understand that it probably feels a lot longer.

Also; game over, Hannan forfeits with his analogy of the battered wife. If he actually knew anyone in such a situation, or had ever pulled his head out his arse and researched abusive relationships, he would know that it’s on a par with wheeling out Hitler.

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  1. rwillmsen

    RT @libcon: :: Watch: Hannan again! Slams 'demonstrably inferior' NHS

  2. Andy1120

    RT @libcon :: Watch: Hannan again! Slams 'demonstrably inferior' NHS >> What a prize pollock!

  3. Alice Powell

    wtf hannan!? Pls pls pls can we make him live in the US sans insurance? (via@libcon)

  4. The Daily Quail

    Hannan: cheesedick.

  5. Gareth Winchester

    RT @libcon Watch: Hannan again! Slams ‘demonstrably inferior’ NHS #welovetheNHS Tories don't

  6. Jeremy Rowe

    RT @DailyQuail: Hannan: cheesedick.

  7. Left Outside

    RT @DailyQuail: Hannan: cheesedick.

  8. Morenda

    Liberal Conspiracy » Watch: Hannan again! Slams 'inferior' NHS: Only the US version charged my travel i..

  9. Liberal Conspiracy

    :: Watch: Hannan again! Slams 'demonstrably inferior' NHS

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