The Tory confusion over NHS laid bare


3:48 pm - January 5th 2010

by Sunny Hundal    


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Here’s some text from the Conservative NHS manifesto

British patients should be among the first in the world to use effective treatments, but under Labour they are among the last. The current system lets Ministers off the hook by blaming decisions on unaccountable bureaucrats in NICE, the agency which approves drugs for the NHS.

That’s right, damn those ‘unaccountable bureaucrats’ at NICE! The Tories will ensure that accountable ministers will instead make decisions so you can punish them if necessary.

Quite uncharitably, Alex Massie at the Spectator says to that: “The best one can say about this is that it’s total gibberish.” Doh!

But let’s assume we want these decisions to be more accountable. A good idea in theory right? But what’s this?

With less political interference in the NHS, we will turn the Department of Health into a Department of Public Health so that the prevention of illness gets the attention from government it needs.

Less political interference? But I thought that was more ‘accountable’ surely?

Can we file this under the Steve Hilton award for ‘Progressive Gobbledegook’?

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


pure gobbledegook

So looking at ‘clinical excellence’ is simply bureacracy, is it? It’s not clear from this that he actually knows what NICE is.

3. Chris Jones

Yes we can.

Another half-baked Tory policy. No wonder they don’t want to tell us their policies if this is the best they can launch their general election campaign with.

4. Dick the Prick

NICE is proper fat though – there’s loads of ‘em hang out in a massive swanky office in Manchester. The NHS information centre, which as far as I can work out does pretty pictures of where dentists are and where people are gonna have health inequalities rather than do anything about it. The staffing budgets of NICE, NHS info centre, Connecting 4 Health, (all 3 of them massive swanky offices based in Leeds town centre right near the train station etc etc

Alls i’m saying is there’s a fair bit of watse going on bollox staff

nhs.jobs.uk

Type in information in either Manchester or Leeds or go to NHS info centre and see if you give a shit about anything they do!

Mega lols

Well, I have to hand it to the left. You’ve got any Conservative politician so scared of making any changes to the NHS that could be seen as ‘radical’ that they can only make these tiny little changes that are, for the most part, not changes at all.

Meanwhile Britain plods along with the 14th ranked health system (out of 33 european countries http://www.healthpowerhouse.com/files/Report%20EHCI%202009%20091005%20final%20with%20cover.pdf).

Ok, we don’t want a US style system. Why not a Dutch, Danish, Icelandic or Austrian? How can it be that the 3rd largest economy in Europe has the only 14th best health system, and moreover how are we are happy with that?

7. hippocrates

The fact that you cannot even see that genuine political accountability need not involve excessive political interference explains why New Labour has ballsed up the NHS.

> With less political interference in the NHS, we will turn the Department of Health into a Department of Public Health so that the prevention of illness gets the attention from government it needs.

As someone who works for a design agency, this is great news for whoever gets the re-branding contract, but bad news for anyone who doesn’t want to die in hospital.

Swings and roundabouts.

Mark M @ 6

how are we are happy with that?

1. We’re happy with that in the sense that we can sleep at night, happy in the knowledge that even the poorest of our fellow citizens gets treatment when ill.

2. We’re not happy with that in the sense that no-one wants 14th rate healthcare to stay the norm for long.

Meeting the challenge of 2. while preserving the benefit of 1. is precisely what David Cameron is planning to do.

That isn’t because he’s running scared of Sunny Hundal.

It’s because it is the right thing to do: socially, morally and politically.

“Quite uncharitably, Alex Massie at the Spectator says to that: ‘The best one can say about this is that it’s total gibberish.’”

The Spectator goes up in my estimation.

How can health ministers make deicisons about the cost-effective prescription of drugs and treatments in the NHS except on good professional advice from clinically competent people? If they are to get sound independent advice then we need a body pretty much like NICE, whether with that name or another.

@9 Of course we preserve number 1. No-one (no, not even the evil Hannan) wants to see the poor go without treatment. The problem is that we cling to the NHS as a sacred cow in spite of the fact that other, generally better performing, health systems are out there (that EHCI report points out that Bevanite systems, such as the NHS, score lower than Bismarck systems), and any attempt to suggest we switch is met with outrage and accusations that you want healthcare-by-credit-card.

Reviewing the data in this report I’ve come to two conclusions.

1) As I suspected, the British system is poor at turning expenditure into performance. Taking into account differences in expenditure, the UK system is below average and certainly well below the efficiency achievements of countries like Iceland, Denmark, Holland and Austria. There is great scope for reform to get better outcomes for the same money.

2) Contrary to my previously held beliefs, the NHS is underfunded compared to other countries. Eight countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Sweden) all spent between 3,300 and 3,800 US$ PPP per capita in 2007 on healthcare (UK was 2,992) and achieved better scores (although if the UK matched Ireland’s expenditure it would probably score higher).

It’s funny. I always thought we spent too much money on an inefficient health system in need of reform. I now think we spend not enough money on an inefficient health system in need of reform.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Andrew Gwynne

    RT @HouseofTwitsLab: RT @libcon :: The Tory confusion over NHS laid bare http://bit.ly/5UzrKa

  2. Ian Gilbert

    RT @libcon: :: The Tory confusion over NHS laid bare http://bit.ly/5UzrKa

  3. Lucy Proctor

    RT @libcon: :: The Tory confusion over NHS laid bare http://bit.ly/5UzrKa

  4. David Jones

    Sunny H such an arse. http://bit.ly/63oVl2 I'd prefer NICE didn't prefer homeopathy over anti-TNF Alphas for RA and I'd like a say

  5. matt_heath

    "unaccountable bureaucrats in NICE," from tory health policy. That out nuttsacks #nuttsack doesn't it http://bit.ly/6rpOWq from @libcon

  6. Liberal Conspiracy

    :: The Tory confusion over NHS laid bare http://bit.ly/5UzrKa

  7. House Of Twits

    RT @libcon :: The Tory confusion over NHS laid bare http://bit.ly/5UzrKa

  8. Tweets that mention Liberal Conspiracy » The Tory confusion over NHS laid bare -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Liberal Conspiracy, House Of Twits and Ian Gilbert, Andrew Gwynne. Andrew Gwynne said: RT @HouseofTwitsLab: RT @libcon :: The Tory confusion over NHS laid bare http://bit.ly/5UzrKa […]

  9. Mike Cotton

    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/01/05/the-tory-confusion-over-nhs-laid-bare/

  10. Liberal Conspiracy » How many new Quangos has Cameron announced?

    […] yesterday the Conservatives were arguing for more political interference just before they argued against […]

  11. Hrothgir Ó Dómhnaill

    RT @matt_heath: Tory health policy. That out nuttsacks #nuttsack doesn't it http://bit.ly/6rpOWq from @libcon

  12. Policy Watch « Bad Conscience

    […] In other less high-profile areas, we’ve recently seen the Tories quietly U-turn on the NHS, reversing a policy that had been used to slam Labour but which would have entailed the Conservatives taking from the poorest and most vulnerable to give to the rich. A little earlier it was noted that the Conservative draft manifesto contained some absolutely whopping misrepresentations and outright dishonesty. As for the Tory “NHS Manifesto”, not only did the Spectator brand part of it as “gibberish”, but it turns out to be flatly self-contradictory. […]





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