Politics

Even Ukip don't dare break the unhealthy consensus on the NHS

3 January 2015

9:00 AM

3 January 2015

9:00 AM

There’s an irony about Ukip’s rise. Nigel Farage party’s popularity is driven by a widespread sense that the main parties are all the same. Yet in the past four years, the differences between the Labour party and the Conservatives have grown substantially, on issues from the size of the state to an EU referendum.

In an election year you might expect parties to converge in the centre ground as they chased swing voters. It won’t happen this time. Labour is determined to stop left-wingers defecting to the SNP and the Greens, while the Tories, who have long had their own issue on the right because of Ukip, believe that their best chance of victory comes from heightening the contrast between them and the other parties.

Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems do still agree on some things. On immigration, none challenges the fundamental principle of free movement within the EU — something for which Ukip should give thanks. On energy, the three main parties are all behind the Climate Change Act, with its absurdly ambitious targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, which will push up both domestic and industrial energy bills. Tellingly, Douglas Carswell chose energy policy as the topic of Ukip’s first parliamentary debate. Then there is international development. All three Westminster parties commit to spending 0.7 per cent of Britain’s gross national income on overseas aid, against the wishes of two-thirds of the public. Here, too, Ukip can present itself as the party prepared to shake things up.

But when it comes to the NHS, Ukip is racing to join the consensus. Until recently, it was the only party that would tolerate public discussion of different ways to fund health care. Two-and-a-half years ago, Nigel Farage talked about moving towards an insurance-based system. But now Ukip is trying to be more Catholic than the Pope on the subject, opposing the EU-US free trade deal on the grounds that it might force NHS privatisation and even standing against the efficiency savings that the coalition has made.

When Carswell was a free-thinking Conservative backbencher, he proposed — with his friend and ideological compadre Dan Hannan — that government should ‘allow patients to opt out of the NHS and instead pay their contributions into individual health accounts’. Since joining Ukip, he hasn’t publicly repeated this sentiment. Instead, he and Ukip’s other MP, Mark Reckless, have voted for a Labour Private Member’s Bill that would unwind some of the very limited competition measures that the coalition has brought in.


Ukip has shifted because, ironically, it has come to the same conclusion as the Tory modernisers: acceptance of the current NHS settlement is the price of admission to British politics. For all its boasts of saying what the other parties don’t dare to, when it comes to the NHS, Ukip’s courage fails.

And Farage and his team can’t be blamed for being afraid. As Nigel Lawson, a former editor of this magazine, wrote in his memoirs, ‘The National Health Service is the closest thing the English have to a religion.’

Logic goes out of the window when it comes to health debates. The Tories boast about how they have pumped money into the NHS, implicitly accepting the left’s argument that how much you spend on a service is the best gauge of its quality. Labour boasts of a ‘zero-based spending review’, rigorously assessing from scratch the best use of every pound that taxpayers hand to the government. But it is committed to putting £2.5 billion more into the NHS than the coalition, whatever its review finds.

To listen to Andy Burnham, you would think that there was a major division between the Conservatives and Labour on the NHS; that David Cameron was selling it off. But if the NHS is being privatised under this government, then it was being privatised when Burnham was health secretary. Labour politicians seem to believe that it’s fine for them to let private contractors into the health system, but not for anyone else to.

If the state of debate about the health service is depressing, one reason for hope is Simon Stevens, the new chief executive of NHS England. Stevens was the architect of many of the Blair-era health reforms and, while he wants more money for the health service, his presence should ensure that the extra cash is accompanied by at least some reform.

Indeed, if the Conservatives are sensible — and if they are still heading the government after the next election — they will let Stevens continue with his quiet programme of reform. One of the big problems with Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Act was that it gave defenders of the status quo something to rally against. Stevens’s more piecemeal approach makes that harder.

There is some frank debate about the NHS in Parliament. But it is happening in the relatively non-partisan confines of the Commons Health Select Committee. The committee’s chair, Sarah Wollaston, has been prepared to talk candidly about some of the funding options that the NHS might have to explore in time.

But if neither the scandal at Stafford Hospital, where patients were reduced to drinking dirty water out of vases, nor this era of fiscal retrenchment can prompt a proper, serious conversation about the health service and its future then it is difficult to see what will. There is simply no great appetite for the reformation of our national religion. As long as that is the case, even the self-styled iconoclasts of our politics will continue to worship at the NHS altar.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10


Show comments
  • Sean Grainger

    This phenomenon is unlikely to be resolved in my lifetime but it would be good to get a Masters & Johnson take.

    Any particular corner of any hospital is filthy. Any particular nurse at the end of any particular ward is not very helpful or well-informed at best. Any particular reception to any clinic is a shambles (with still the monstrous arrogance of ten people with an appointment at the same time). Any particular triage screener in A&E is useless in that they allow non urgent cases to get in the queue. Any particular receptionist at A&E is arrogant and rude and it is not surprising they need a glass screen. In a little corner of London W2 we are very lucky with our GP practice but any particular GPP it seems is a poor service (my other London experience south of the river was beyond bad). BUT then we get — in my case — our badly broken wrist operated on in as good a way as you could hope and … Everyone becomes an angel. Is that how it goes? Needs some proper research.

    • smartmind

      Any particular troll spouts nonsense, especially those named Sean Grainger – need I say any more?

      “OUR” broken wrist? Yes, we all felt your pain.

      • Sean Grainger

        What a cunt

        • Peter Stroud

          And you are clearly an ignorant idiot for using such language.

          • mickc

            But not for making the retort.

    • willshome

      As opposed to your spewing of nonsense.

      • global city

        “the NHS will take us half way to the Soviet system”

        That’s good enough for you, I suppose?

  • Sean Grainger

    And the other irritant is the blithe (SOED No.3) assumption by say Andy Burnham that no other system is conceivable and with it the ill-informed belief that nobody in Italy France Germany Spain Switzerland or Canada gets decent healthcare for — in the case of the last two — a fraction of the taxpayer cost in the UK. The ‘free’ nonsense is annoying beyond belief when I look at my payslips.

    • smartmind

      “nobody in Italy France Germany Spain Switzerland or Canada gets decent healthcare”.

      So if one person in a million gets “decent” healthcare, the rest can go hang just so you don’t feel bad about your payslip?

      • Joe Sixpack

        A straw man argument. It embodies the non sequiter at the heart of the NHS defenders: If there is no NHS, “the rest can go hang”. It rests on the false assumption that the only way we can get healthcare to those who can’t afford it is to nationalise the system. But there are many versions of social insurance that prove the falsity of this way of thinking. Another way to look at it: there are people who can’t afford food. We don’t nationalise the food industry though; we provide welfare.

        • willshome

          And we cut it back and back and delay payments or refuse payments altogether until people are forced to foodbanks to survive – and then we abuse them for going to food banks – and then, if they can’t take it any more we simply let them starve to death like David Cameron’s ex-soldier constituent David Clapson http://www.hertfordshiremercury.co.uk/Campaign-change-moves-Prime-Minister-s-doorstep/story-25219415-detail/story.html

          Hardly a model for healthcare is it?

          • Joe Sixpack

            Again, a non sequitur. Let’s assume that people are dying of starvation due to cuts in the welfare. That doesn’t mean that nationalising healthcare will make it better. The same problem will still be present; the same people will be running it with the same issues around incentives. Indeed, one sees the same sort of horror cases to the one you cite happening in the NHS all the time.
            Putting aside the theory, let’s look at the facts: Germany, Switzerland, Holland, etc. all have better health outcomes in general than in the UK.
            Again, nationalised healthcare is not the only alternative to letting people die in the street, both from a theoretical and an empirical perspective. But people are so propagandised that they aren’t willing to entertain any debate

    • Brogan75

      I’m Italian and our Health system is way better than NHS, in all its aspects and even with some deficiencies.

      • Gerschwin

        Well I’ve experience of treatment in the Italian health system too and you’re right – so long as you’re in a hospital somewhere around say Milan or Bergamo… if you’re knocking around say Naples or Bari you’d be better off asking for a dentist and the undertaker… in no particular order.

        • Brogan75

          Agree, there’s a lot of work to be done still in some areas.

      • willshome

        The Italian system is indeed good. Largely modelled on the NHS after the privatised system went belly up in the 1970s.

    • willshome

      Canada healthcare costs 10.9% GDP; Swiss healthcare costs 11.4% GDP; UK healthcare costs 9.3% GDP. I presume you mean a vulgar fraction. I think you need to find some new poster boys for your argument. Try Estonia or Mexico http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/social-issues-migration-health/total-expenditure-on-health_20758480-table1

      • Ed  

        Be careful bringing the Canadian system into the debate. It’s rationed.

        • global city

          as is the NHS…..something these dolts refuse to acknowledge!

          willshome with his NHS avatar…….. seriously?

      • HJ777

        But government here doesn’t spend much (if any) less than in many other countries (including France, Germany, Switzerland) on medical care. The main reason they spend more is because of higher private spending.

        In any case, we spend more than many other countries and about the average overall according to the OECD. But, again according to the OECD, we get a lower quantity and quantity of care for our money.

        http://www.oecd.org/eco/healthcaresystemsefficiencyandpolicysettings.htm

        Their findings are pretty clear.

      • Sean Grainger

        Last time I checked per capita insurance cost in both countries was a lot less than my NI contributions (which of course may be apples and pears but one could start there). The trouble with the ‘discussion’ was that everybody appeared to be on own wavelength. The Commonwealth Institute cites ?WHO data supporting your view. If I sub down my view it is the NHS is not particularly good and it is very expensive in absolute terms and to leave it as a shibboleth is not helpful.
        In terms of percentages and stats generally they all have to be viewed through the eyes of Radio 4’s More Or Less and the excellent stats handbook The Tiger That Isn’t.

  • rick hamilton

    Having lived abroad for half my life and experienced first hand the excellent health care available in other developed countries, I am all in favour of a health system which is not universally free at the point of delivery. In other words a contributory system with hospitals run on commercial lines. The majority of costs are billed to the NHS and patients pay a percentage as long as they are able to do so, and pay more for cosmetic or inessential treatments.This is the only way to keep standards up at every level – it’s called competition. And it makes people look after their own health better.

    The patient must be treated as a valuable customer by all employees of the NHS, not as a unit to be processed or a supplicant to be patronised. If they are not satisfied with their treatment at one place, they go to another and the bad ones close down. No service run for the benefit of its employees is worth sticking with as we found with nationalised airlines, telecoms, railways.

    An arrangement which is perfectly acceptable to millions of people globally is portrayed hysterically in the UK as a money-grabbing scheme for evil capitalists. Public sector unions hate the cold blast of competition because they will be made to wake up and remember every day who pays their salaries,

    • willshome

      Oh spare me the ex-pat who wants to tell what brilliant health care they’ve had while living abroad. They generally ignore the fact that they have probably been more healthy than the average population (immigrants generally are because younger, which is why immigrants to the UK pay more in to the NHS than they take out) and have yet to suffer from a condition that their insurance won’t cover (or a financial situation that means they can’t afford insurance). They also ignore the fact that healthcare costs overall are generally much higher abroad than the UK. That’s £50 a week per person in France and Germany to our £40; the Netherlands pays £60 a week. And of course the US pays around the same of us for its public system – and then more than that on top to support the private system that is, indeed a money-grabbing scheme for evil capitalists.

      • rick hamilton

        None so blind as those who won’t see.

        • colchar

          The exact same thing could be said about you.

          • Ed  

            Good effort; he got you first, though.

      • what’s your point @willshome?

      • Gwangi

        ‘which is why immigrants to the UK pay more in to the NHS than they take out’ Really? And what about in the future when they and their 5-10 children demand healthcare? What about half of all births in London being to foreigners? And what about the higher than average number of damaged and disabled children in Pakistani and Gypsy communities before of inbreeding with 1st cousins?
        And why the goodness-gracious-me should some immigrant or tourist get free care on our NHS anyway. Have they paid anything towards it? Well my parents and grandparents did for years, and now when I need help I have to wait behind a long queue of non-British parasites who resemble a diversity course at the United Nations of the GLC. It is NOT right o fair or just.
        Plus people make profit out of the NHS and always have done – all the nurses and doctors who are trained by the NHS but work privately do; all drugs companies who supply all drugs so; all tech companies who provide the high tech equipment do; then there those who supply the food, furniture, toilet rolls – all evil capitalist making a profit. And it was ever thus – the NHS was never a pure socialist dream devoid of private interest.
        I think you need to think this through and look LONG TERM at the issue.
        France and Germany have excellent health systems – and we should emulate their model.

      • Mode4

        You can believe that health care abroad isn’t a patch on the NHS if you want. I lived in Australia for a few years and their health system is considerably better than the NHS. Doctor within 3 hours was the norm where I lived. Other Countries have better health care systems. To rubbish ex-pats comments just explains why people don’t want to lift the bar on a second rate system run for the benefit of the employees.

        • Gwangi

          Indeed. But some countries are far worse (Greece) and some others are excellent (Communist countries and ex ones).

    • sfin

      Couldn’t agree more.

      Here in Paris my GP treats me as a valued customer because her money comes from me, directly, and not from the state – and that’s the crucial difference; that and the fact that she is under no quotas regime, meaning she can give me as much of her time as I require.

      With my ‘carte vitale’ (which you receive by contributing to the system through legitimate employment) I am then reimbursed the greater proportion of my costs by the state. The whole process, typically, doesn’t cost much more than prescription charges do in the UK.

      The NHS is a ghastly, socialist construct, whereby the people who use it the most, contribute to it the least – with absolutely no incentive for individual responsibility for one’s own health; and, worse, state interference on ‘health grounds’. The doctors have had enough ‘gold stuffed in their mouths’ and the nurses are all now degree qualified and thus basic nursing is beneath them.

      As a UKIP supporter, I will lobby hard for the party to adopt any policy that commits the NHS to the dustbin of history.

      • colchar

        If you live in Paris why do you care what happens to the NHS?

        • sfin

          Because I’m a registered British voter, my son and other family members still live in the UK and I would, one day, perhaps, like to return to the land of my birth.

          Although, certainly not as it is now.

          • bobmattfran

            Please leave now and stop infesting France with your nonsense.

        • greggf

          It’s like every other mismanaged public enterprise in the UK colchar. Were they more competent, efficient and obeisant to the taxpayer, UK plc might be a more valued entity, with sterling able to hold its value better and less liable to weaken if a Labour government gets elected.
          Everyone would be better off.

      • global city

        That must be an evolving national led debate, not a policy commitment out of the blue. People have been successfully scared witless about changing the NHS, even if the reality would be to make it better. That’s socialists for you…stick to the principle even when it has proven to be bust.

        • sfin

          I agree that the ‘policy’ must involve a long campaign – part of a libertarian campaign of freeing the electorate to take control over their lives.

          This will require real leadership (as opposed to management, which is what we currently have).

      • bobmattfran

        NHS is a ghastly, socialist construct, Really, and France in your blind eyes is obviously a right wing country! Grow up! The NHS which was created in 1948 ensured that all people regardless of wealth were entitled to free treatment at the point of delivery, but you I guess are of the opinion that some people are more equal than others, that is why the Tories cannot be trusted with the NHS and one of the many reasons that they will be thrown out of office in may.

        • Ally Gory

          “the Tories cannot be trusted with the NHS”

          Is it because they are heretics in your eyes and the preservation of the NHS is far more important than the quality of the “free” care it provides? How is Labour doing with the NHS these days? Would you care to ask the Welsh? How was it when Burnham was in office? Didn’t it kill people through neglect? Didn’t Labour advance privatisation with its GP contracts, ensuring each practice is a private enterprise, producing less while costing us all more?

          Not only can Labour not be trusted with ensuring we receive quality health care, it cannot be trusted with ensuring one single penny of our money is spent wisely. There is no excuse for voting Labour, as they have an extensive and consistent record of abject failure.

          • bobmattfran

            Not heretics just money grubbing dishonest corrupt scum who are not to be trusted to run anything of value to the population.

          • Ally Gory

            Something they have in common with the Labour hierarchy then.

          • Brian

            Next year the NHS will repay £2billion interest on the PFI projects. 90% of those projects were built under a Labour government. Much of that money has disappeared. Between 1997 and 2010 did it go into Conservative or Labour pockets?

    • One thing that I find rather interesting regarding the ‘national religion’ is the extent to which a great many who’d never dare criticise the NHS are in fact, whether they realise or admit it, ideologically in favour of at least some degree of privatisation within the healthcare sector corresponding to personal responsibility.

      I’ve met plenty of people who say they’d support the NHS cutting free treatment to smokers, the morbidly obese and the drunkards that make up around half the people in A&E at the weekend, yet far fewer seem to either admit that such a policy would constitute a sensible degree of privatisation, exemplifying that it can be applied fairly and effectively and isn’t the ‘bugaboo’ that the left-wing establishment would have you believe it is.

      The same ethic can be found in the way we make charitable donations too; despite lung cancer affecting more people than the the next three or four most common types of cancer combined, lung cancer charities receive less public donations than those for breast and testicular cancer, largely because people see lung cancer as a self-inflicted condition (understandably so; 80% of cases being down to smoking). Either way, it goes to show that when blasphemy against the national religion is taken out of the equation, people do indeed hold others responsible for the lifestyle choices they make and the state of their health that entails, they just dare not criticise the system.

      Case in point, this New Years Eve, my friends’ brother, under the influence of both alcohol as well as something stronger, ended up putting his fist through the door window of his parents’ house, dislocating his shoulder and cutting his arm to ribbons.

      Now, stupid and self-inflicted an injury though that was, I do want the lad to be treated and treated well. However, who in their right mind would seriously argue that the taxpayer should pay for his treatment?

      Want to cut costs? Send him the bill.

      • Patrick Gearon

        I would argue the tax payer should pay for it. Stupidity is something that catches us all eventually and I would like to know that I am covered, no matter what.
        My apologies in advance.
        In the US Army, no soldier is left behind. And even if it risks more lives being lost, the Army will still come and get you. It is not dependant on whether you’re worthy of being saved or the cost but rather more importantly it underpins what the military ethic, hence morale, is all about.
        I say the same of the NHS. Without that guarantee that no-one is left behind, even jackasses, then the NHS would simply have no reason to even exist..

        • photon

          Trained soldiers are not jackasses.

          • bobmattfran

            You obviously have never had to interview a US Marine!

        • Well I’m afraid that’s the impasse at which we’ll have to leave it, I simply consider it immoral and unjust to violently force people to pay for the consequences of the stupid behaviour of others, whereas you evidently do not.

          As our difference is a moral issue, rather than a practical one, I don’t think we can really develop much of a debate, but I will say that I can’t begin to fathom how you can equate the self-inflicted damage a drunk youth does to himself deliberately smashing his fist through a glass window as meriting the same degree of public responsibility and societal concern as a hard working man or woman who develops diabetes or cancer through no fault of their own.

          • Guest

            Living in a culture is a team sport I’m afraid, where the price of admission is the suspension of certain privileges so as to gain benefit from the whole.
            Now we gain benefit everyday by being part of that culture and yet so natural has it become that we fail to even notice. Being able to communicate in English is to mention the simplest example, after it having being so ‘violently forced’ upon our native babble. Similarly were not all aspects of the culture ‘violently forced’ upon us? Oh yes they were,: it is what makes us proud.
            Have to go

        • Jonny

          There is no comparison between a US soldier being left behind (it’s not because of his stupidity) and what Mr. Stevens’ brother did through drink and “something stronger”.

          • Patrick Gearon

            My point was that if a system is to work, it must have an all inclusive fundamental guarantee, hence my ref to the US Army’s ethic- where they too would curse the likes of Stevens brother’s mate. But they’d still go and pick up the dickhead up, no matter what.
            Mathew Stevens and I are not in disagreement but we come at it from different angles. Cut backs are inevitable for all non essential services but the fundamentals must remain

  • smartmind

    ukip is a populist party that feasts on the nazty end of the political spectrum. If ukip thought there was mileage to be gained in dismantling the NHS it would. Only when Farage’s bluff was called he blinked as he saw himself sinking on his proposal for insurance based health care. If ukip believes in insurance based health care, then they are welcome to join the likes of BUPA. But they should not come screaming to the NHS when their private insurance bumps them off after a year of illness or if they get in incurable disease! But then ukip suffers from foot-in-mouth syndrome anyway!

    • twowolves

      They eat babies and are sleeping with your wife!

      • Gerschwin

        Nah… I’ve seen his wife. I promise you they’re not.

      • willshome

        No, they lie to the electorate. That’s enough.

    • HJ777

      Most European countries have social insurance systems (which do not ‘bump you off’ after a year) but they have mixed systems of provision, thereby providing users with choice.

  • peter feltham

    If Cameron,Miliband,Clegg and Co can’t even get to grips with the criminal element in their own parties who are still busily engaged in fraudulent expense claims what chance for the NHS being properly managed.

    • yes, that’s the 1000s of pounds i really care about, rather than the trivial billions at stake with the NHS!

      • peter feltham

        The point is,if you cannot be trusted with a relatively small sum what makes you think they can be trusted with the NHS budget.Or was that a bit too deep for you.

        • photon

          A bit too Biblical, perhaps. Parable of the talents.

  • EsseQuamHaberi

    Healthcare isnt free in the UK now, there are plenty of things that you have to pay for, it is something of a myth that it is all free, some of it comes down to what the local CCG wants to pay for.
    UKIP has backed free at point of use, that leaves plenty of room on how one delivers the service.
    A UKIP candidate who is also a GP held a very interesting public discussion on where the money goes, especially in relation to the burden on A&E with the associated costs that brings. Lots of good ideas and information. The accountability of CCGs seems to me to be worth exploring as they can be pretty detached and dismissive of local NHS staff who put forward some very reasonable proposals, only to be dismissed without a hearing. It is very much a postcode lottery in that respect so encouraging the public to get more involved in what their local CCG is doing would be a good start.

    • davidofkent

      Healthcare and other public services are most definitely free in this country for the millions who pay no tax and NI.

      • mickc

        Everyone who buys practically anything in the UK pays tax. Income tax and NI are not the only taxes.

    • willshome

      CCGs are a Tory invention (well, the invention of the management consultants who pull their strings) to provide a nice income for private healthcare corporations at the expense of our unified system.

      • EsseQuamHaberi

        Labour are not pledging to abolish them though, strange that. Regardless, we are where we are so until something better comes along, one has to try and work with what we have.

      • HJ777

        Why do you think that a ‘unified system’ is desirable?

        Pluralistic systems work very well in many fields of human activity.

  • EmilyEnso

    Even Ukip don’t dare break the unhealthy consensus on the NHS

    Completely misleading.
    UKIP has an effective policy on the problems within the NHS.
    It is going to return it to a National Health Service.
    It is going to stop the abuse by non British people who are using it as an International Health Service.
    Full health insurance will be required to enter Britain – including all Europeans.
    It is the recent influx – millions – of Eastern Europeans which has brought the NHS to its knees.
    The English have had enough.
    Waiting up to 35 hours in A&E enough.

  • Samson

    “But if the NHS is being privatised under this government, then it was being privatised when Burnham was health secretary.”

    This is why people think the main parties are all the same, because they are the same. The blues and reds are just corporate-money grubbing teams now, as connected to conservatism or the working class respectively as the average Man United player is to Manchester. Their ‘frank’ debates are headline hooks, nothing more.

  • 4194

    A ragbag of ex Tory and Labour reactionaries
    crassly pandering to public anxieties with simplistic remedies, now cynically
    changes stance on the NHS.

  • MK

    Whether or not you agree with such a policy, it is disappointing for British democracy that the one party that advocated abolishing the NHS and moving to a European social insurance model has done a U-turn and now wants to return British healthcare to the state-monopoly model.

    There’s something of a paradox in the way the British public thinks about the NHS. Despite most care indeed being adequate or above, most people have a bad NHS experience or experiences, especially with elderly relatives. 10 years ago, my great-grandmother was hospitalised for a broken bone, but her daughter remains convinced it was poor hospital care and even a veiled euthanasia policy that killed her off in the end. James Bartholomew confirmed this when he received mostly positive feedback after advocating the NHS’s abolition and replacement with a better system on the BBC a few years back.

    I think the biggest problem here is that people know the NHS is a relative failure in many respects, but don’t know of any alternatives. The only one most Brits know about is the American system, which people are right to reject, even though the idea the Americans have a private system is a myth (the US government spends more proportionally on health than the UK government does – see Medicare and Medicaid especially).

    Just look at a country like Germany. “Free at point of use”? Overwhelmingly so, yes. The main charges for most poor and middle-income people are small payments to doctors once a quarter, prescription charges, and hospital stay charges. Almost everyone is covered through health insurance, including the poor and unemployed. Any implications that not having a NHS would mean poor people couldn’t access healthcare are debunked by the examples of Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and indeed, the US. http://www.howtogermany.com/pages/healthinsurance.html http://www.civitas.org.uk/nhs/health_systems.php

    Interestingly, an OECD report in 2010 found that health inequalities between rich and poor are actually lower in social and private-insurance systems in central Europe (DE, CH, BE, NL) than they are in the UK. So the NHS doesn’t even succeed in equalising health outcomes between people of different incomes.

  • Peter Stroud

    It is pretty clear that the NHS cannot go on as it is, but who really knows how to reform it? All we seem to get is one plan after another: followed by problems with the unions, and venomous criticism from the arm chair experts, for purely political reasons.

    • Richard

      The British way is simply to allow it to run down, until nobody uses it. It will become the Ethnic Minority Health Service (EMHS) and whites will subsidise it with their higher payments through private care. This is already happening, with Arabs and whites being the biggest users of UK healthcare on a private basis. It will gradually increase.

      But there is another problem with social benefits in general, and that is that the BMEs came to this country only after these benefits were instituted. The majority of them could never compete in the workplace on equal terms. Remove the benefits, and you remove the equality of outcome, which is the latest Leftist cause. Then you would have to institute preferential hiring of BMEs, in order to compensate. Employment laws would then have to change so that incompetents could not be dismissed (rather like what has happened in South Africa) which would cause the economy to go belly-up. In other words, is it cheaper to keep the peace by giving them these handouts, or is it cheaper to do it with skewed Labour practice (using Labour as an adjective, though it could equally be used as a noun)? Either way, it’ll be shell-out, shell-out, shell-out, until we turn into New Nigeria or Pakistan.

      As you say, nobody has the guts actually to DO anything.

  • Gerschwin

    This is what happens when you elevate an institution to the status of religion – it becomes untouchable, unaccountable, beyond criticism… just like a religion, the only demand is complete and blind obedience. It’s a pretty standard norm these days that all politicos must 1) bow to the venerated spirit of Nelson Mandela 2) gush at our multi-cultural paradise and 3) bleat inanely at the wonder of the NHS and its High Priests at the BMA and GMC who guard its sacred knowledge for us… the only thing to do to the NHS is exactly what’s sadly been done to that great religion, the Church of England – obliterate it.

  • Nhs Whistleblowers

    I’m a member of staff in Lincoln County Hospital, patients who were clearly diagnosed with cancer were discharged. One of them was discharged because Mr Martin Clark was running late on the clinic. The issue was raised with other consultants Mr Wesam Aleid and Mr Jason Niamat. They both said, this has been going on for ages. At least 5 patients were identified in a very short period .. These cancer patients were diagnosed at very early stage by their GP and they would only need straight forward surgery under local anaesthetic to remove the cancer once and for ever .. but they were discharged and left so the cancer can spread and then they died The issue was raised with the CEO Mrs Jane Lewington but never investigated. They made their best to keep all the concerns off records so no one can prove that there were concerns. Up till now, we do not know how many patients died because of this and how many patients out there !! Mr Suneil Kapadia the Medical Director was also informed but nothing happened apart from the cover up .. This is not a joke .. go to http://nhs-whistleblowers.blogspot.co.uk/ for the full stories or go to twitter and check #ULHT and ULHT or for more stories ..

  • MichtyMe

    Involving the financial services industry in the provision of healthcare……what could go wrong? Pension provision, with its charges, fees, commissions was plundered by the “industry” want to hand over health for them to loot.

  • Nhs Whistleblowers

    NHS is a filthy business, in Lincoln County Hospital, three doctors were sitting at home getting their full salary for about six months while the NHS was paying £50-100 per an hour for others to cover them.

    The reason for suspending the first two doctors was because they blow the whistle. Instead of investigating the matter and improving it they suspended them then dismissed them !! The third one was the consultant who victimised the first two. Of course, he was stopped for six months then returned to do exactly what he was doing for the patients. Surprisingly the consultant (Mr Martin Clark) was not promoted like Andy Coulson to work in 10 Downing Street.

    The consultant was sitting at his home, getting his full salary (£200,000) a year and was doing extra money from his private work!!

    According to Mr Martin Clark, the other three consultants who covered him made lots of money as they were getting locum rate to cover him; one of them Mr Jason Niamat bought two top-of-the-range Range Rovers; one for him and one for his wife. The other consultant Mr Mark Buah got a top-of-the-range BMW. The Mr Wesam Aleid got top-of-the-range Mercedes and new home ..

    Despite the letters of complaints submitted against Mr Clark, he believes that he was intentionally suspended by the other consultants (Mr Jason Niamat, Mr Mark Buah and Mr Wesam Aleid) so they can get extra money.

    Mr Clark told one of the nurses, the next time one of them want to go in an expensive holiday, another complaint will be submitted against me and I will be suspended again!

    According to Mr Jason Niamat and Mr Wesam Aleid. Mr Martin Clark was suspended at least three times. It is claimed that Mr Clark lured one of the nurses to the hospital while they were both under the influence of alcohol and injection her with Botox. It is also claimed that Mr Clark made a wrong operation to a patient. He was supposed to remove a cancer from one side but instead he operated on the sound side of the body and left the cancer behind!

    This is not a joke .. go to http://nhs-whistleblowers.blogspot.co.uk/ or to twitter and check #ULHT and ULHT ..

    The two doctors who were dismissed went to court and the trust are now also paying to 5 barristers and 5 solicitors. Unfortunately for the trust, the whistleblowers kept tape recordings of what happened.

    This is reality .. this is where the money goes .. this was brought to the attention of Mr Jeremy Hunt, the COE of NHS confederation and the COE of the trust but nothing happened .. all covered up ..

    This is only a snapshot, from one Dep. in one hospital, in one year!!

  • willshome

    This article is mainly useful exposition of the real consensus among British career politicians – everyone plans gradually to end the NHS as we know and love it, but no one is prepared to risk their jobs by being honest about it. Because they know that, in theory, their job is to serve the wishes of the voters, and there is nothing the voters want more than a strong and supported NHS ( no one believes it couldn’t be improved). The fact that all parties are not competing, in good faith, to support and improve our exceptionally cost-effective and just system gives the game away as to how far the theory of representative government is from the reality.

    There are a few points I’d correct though. Farridge has spoken his real feelings much more recently than 2 1/2 years ago https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RK0S1RYYBqc views shared by Paul Nuttall https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BiMtBcqIk4 That they are lying through their teeth about this now should tell potential voters that they are just the same as the main parties.

    Also, can we end the canard about Mid-Staffs? Local people are still fighting fiercely to keep their valued hospital, which has been smeared by the situation in one small section – which was itself a result of understaffing in the drive to “marketise” the NHS. http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/drank-water-vases/story-18812253-detail/story.html The people of Staffordshire aren’t stupid. They wouldn’t be fighting to save the place if it was the hell-hole portrayed by the tabloids – but they are. http://www.savemidstaffs.co.uk/index.php

    • global city

      Farage has said that he still thinks something more like one of the continental systems should be used, but that this is not party policy. Nothing dumber than a dumb lefty idiot.

  • English_Independence_Movement

    The English Independence Movement dares demand that we break up the NHS and switch to the part Statebacked insurance and part private insurance healthcare system used in France Germany Australia Canada and every other Social Democratic Western Liberal Country on this planet.

  • colchar

    If the government stopped wasting money on other things it could pump the savings into the NHS. Take social housing for example – here in Canada social housing is reserved for the poorest of the poor. If the various levels of government in the UK were to stop funding social/council housing for people who could afford to pay for their own housing they could pump the savings into the NHS. Foreign aid is another example. Why is Britain giving foreign aid to a India, a country that has enough money to fund a space program? If they stopped giving money to India they could put that money into the NHS. Or maybe they should cut back on the outrageous benefits available in Britain and use that money for the NHS. There are, obviously, other examples but those were the first ones that came to mind.

    • teepee

      “If the government stopped wasting money on other things it could pump the savings into the NHS.”
      Of course the government should stop wasting money, but not so that it can be wasted on the NHS. Want of money is not to blame for the mess the NHS is in.

  • grutchyngfysch

    “Yet in the past four years, the differences between the Labour party and the Conservatives have grown substantially, on issues from the size of the state to an EU referendum.”

    No, Mr Forsyth, the noises made by the front end of our political parties are different, the product which emerges out of the back is resolutely the same.

    The obesity crisis of the bloated State isn’t going to go away until the current political generation is purged and Westminster thoroughly scoured out with some strong disinfectant. Until the unsavoury conditions are cleaned up, “political consensus” like a particularly virulent strain of MRSA, will continue to ravage the national health.

  • global city

    That’s because creepy establishment stooges like you have forced them to take cover….greatly to the detriment of the national debate.

    It’s partly your fault, James.

  • It’s a major tactical error on UKIP’s part. But it won’t stop me voting for it. A lot of vested interests have to be unpicked before we can start to get to things like NHS reform.

  • Polly Radial

    If the NHS is a religion . . . it’s satanism.

  • Gwangi

    I know people in Wales (one part Labour-ruled statelet that it is now) who declare they want NO private involvement in the NHS< even if it means year long waiting lists for heart ops and people dropping dead whilst on them.

    When I explain to them the NHS has always been a public-private partnership, with many staff also working privately and private companies providing medicines, technology, food etc and doing huge amounts of medical research they then use, these socialist die-hards glaze over – as they do when I explain that in France, Germany and other civilised places with great health systems, they have a state system which is private in parts. In the case of Germany they have local hypothecathed taxes, I believe; in France you pay and claim 85% back – and all have health insurance (and you can't get more state-controlled and socialist than France).

    Time to be pragmatic and do what works – especially in Wales where people are dying on waiting lists every day. For once, Chairman Mao was right – it doesn't matter what colour the cat is so long as it catches mice.

    • mixodorians

      How many people have died on waiting lists on Wales in the last year? Link?

  • grimm

    It would help if the media (both press and broadcast) were to seriously begin challenging the great NHS myth with some in depth investigative journalism.

    Comparisons with other successful healthcare systems are needed in order to challenge the belief that the NHS is a world beater that only greedy vested interests would consider tampering with.

    As it is we only have the occasional shock revelations about the failings of some particular hospital. Naturally these are dismissed as isolated cases in an otherwise excellent system – enquiries will be launched, lessons will be learned, heads will roll etc.

    While the media allow the electorate believe that the NHS are doing a wonderful job and there is no alternative other than expensive private healthcare politicians will continue to let the myth go unchallenged.

  • Cornelius Bonkers

    Well of course UKIP can’t challenge the NHS. The disaffected white working class is the constituency which has been stuffed by the other parties and will therefore be the group who will swing the election in UKIP’s favour. A free NHS is all the white working class has left to console it, so for UKIP to threaten it would be suicide…

  • Aberrant_Apostrophe

    “Labour boasts of a ‘zero-based spending review’, rigorously assessing from scratch the best use of every pound that taxpayers hand to the government.”

    It’s a pity they didn’t do that when they were in power, when instead they blithely increased the NHS budget by 60% for an absolutely staggering 23% increase in efficiency. Oh and completely c*cked up renegotiating GP contracts.

  • Stephen Milroy

    If our highest religious/metaphysical goal is to let the elderly starve to death on wards then society is truly doomed…

  • Kevin T

    On principle I agree. If it was 1945 and I was the prime minister I would opt for a privatised, insurance based health systems, like most countries with “free” health care. The nationalised, bureaucratic system we chose instead has probably coat us hundreds of billions unnecessarily over the years. And I’m highly mistrustful of the motives of the left for wanting it kept the way it is.

    However it is also true that we have bungled privatisation after privatisation, doing it in the worst possible ways, giving contracts to the wrong companies, drawing them up in a way that gives the firms licenses to print money and often stepping in later with taxpayers’ money to bail them out. I see no reason to believe this won’t happen again with the NHS and I fear we would end up with some botched Obamacare clone.

    So for practical reasons I think UKIP is correct.

  • if there is no appetite for NHS reform why do they set off refroming things after “EVERY” election… I used to work in the NHS, but got fed up af trying to support a service that is simply regarded in Westminster as a political football… and nothing more.

  • Socialised medicine is a catastrophe for health and the economy. Individuals who bear the cost of their lifestyle decisions make better decisions and families should care for their own members first. A safety net for children, yes, since children are the main point of society, but if you want better outcomes as opposed to liberals feeling good about themselves, then abolish the NHS.

    • UKSteve

      Pure idiocy.

    • mixodorians

      If the Tories want to privatise the NHS let them stand on that platform. They are complete and utter cowards and refuse to.

  • Terence Hale

    Hi,
    Your photo. This the first time I have seen a photo of Mr. Cameron carrying a coffin.

  • Julie

    UKIP are such a bunch of hypocrites I hardly know where to begin, suffice to say they are in bed with the mainstream parties on a wide range of issues that do not serve the public interest despite claiming to be a fresh new voice in politics who will challenge the status quo. It is all rather sickening.

  • mixodorians

    Jeremy hunt and the Tories want to destroy the NHS, slander and smear and then destroy the unemployed, the sick all for a bit of a taxcut.

    That’s it. That is the basis of their entire ideology.

    Burn the state..sell everything out the back of the car on the way to the airport to pay for taxcuts….and hope that the police and army or their private security can keep order long enough for them to rape the country.

    The day the NHS started over 40 thousand people turned up to have their anal prolapses repaired. Before the NHS they had to carry their insides around in a sling attached to their thighs.

    God help us if the finger jabbing Tories manage to create enough resentment to get elected again.

  • not my real name

    The climate change act is harmful to prosperity and that’s precisely why the Left likes it. ‘Misery loves company’ could be their slogan, except we’d have to change that to ‘misery requires it’: all shall be equally uncomfortable in the painted-on golden tomorrow. Except for the rulers, of course. As in all socialist countries, they are immensely rich.

Close