Features

Treat the NHS as a religion, and you give it the right to run your life

Increasingly, we’re allowing the health service to boss us around to a ridiculous degree

6 June 2015

9:00 AM

6 June 2015

9:00 AM

On a radio discussion show shortly before the general election I made the not terribly original point that the NHS had become our national religion. The first caller immediately objected. ‘No, it’s not,’ he said. ‘The NHS is far more important than a religion — it’s about life and death.’

Ignoring the theological presumption for a moment, this view is common enough. Even when not ‘in crisis’, the NHS is now perennially said to be ‘under pressure’ and so becomes an ever-larger part of what government does and the public expects. George Osborne refuses to seek savings in its budget and promised an unbudgeted further £9 billion during this Parliament. And as the NHS becomes the dominant and only untouchable force in the state, so its enemies (the eaters, the drinkers, the old, the infirm) become enemies of that state. This was always one of the perils of a socialised medical system. And today it is not just the government’s problem. Increasingly we are all expected to put our shoulders to the task of assisting the great effort of permanent NHS rescue.

If you doubt that, consider the limitless amount of sermonising we are willing to put up with when it comes from the NHS. What used to be matters for the church, family or what we used to call ‘free will’ are now cast in the language of the NHS as matters that affect us all.

Ordinarily, if you told a member of the public when they should procreate, what else they might or might not put into their bodies and what body-type was ideal, you would be invited to go and procreate yourself. But when it comes from the NHS and is expressed as being for the good of the nation, then even the most intimate details of your life can be transformed. The last week had some especially fertile examples.

Professor Geeta Nargund, one of the NHS’s top gynaecology consultants, wrote to Nicky Morgan warning that women who start trying to become pregnant after the age of 30 risk never having children. The reason that the Education Secretary was the recipient of the letter was because Professor Nargund was demanding that teenagers in schools be taught the dangers of having children too late. You certainly can’t envy the teachers. In between teaching citizenship, national identity and the English language, they must now impart the precise moment when girls should make babies. Not as a teenager, of course (the NHS is still trying to bring that figure down) but not as a withered 30-year-old either. Perhaps for the next lesson the NHS could give teachers information packs on how to meet the right man, start a promising career and earn enough money to put down a deposit on a flat between the precise ages of 18 and 30?


Professor Nargund’s request will be welcomed rather than objected to because she has the new golden argument behind her. The problem must be tackled, she explained, because of the spiralling costs to the NHS of IVF treatment for women who have left ‘trying for a baby’ to their thirties and forties. What might have seemed intrusive or nannyish suddenly becomes publicly vital.

Every other conceivable problem is increasingly expressed in the same way. Last weekend the chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, focused on obesity. ‘We have got to get much more serious… about our own health and about prevention,’ he warned us via the BBC. If this came from a minister it would be deemed hectoring. But from an NHS chief executive it is easier to swallow. Stevens wisely gave us a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down: ‘We’ve done actually very well in terms of cutting smoking and teenage pregnancy and drink driving.’ Yet there is a new problem, as there always is. ‘The new smoking is obesity. It’s going to take all of us to play our part.’

If that is the case then the crisp-munchers should watch out. Because until now smokers were the easiest targets in the NHS’s sights. Never mind the fact that most smokers put in far more money in taxes on cigarettes than they take out in cancer care, they provided a sitting target which no metastasising bureaucracy could resist. And once the culprit is identified, absolutely anything can be done in the name of ‘prevention’. So the anti-smoking movement, which first criminalised smoking in public places, then seamlessly did what it said it never would and criminalised it in private places too. Costs to the NHS were the driving excuse. Last week in Hull a two-year-old boy was taken away from his parents after a health visitor expressed concerns about the ‘smoky house’ in which he was growing up. The judge who considered the case ruled that, ‘Adoption really is the only option now available to (the little boy), in my view. Nothing else will do.’ There was consolation, though, as the judge said, ‘I want him to know that in my judgment his parents loved him very much and tried very hard, but they were simply not able to meet his needs.’ Doubtless that will comfort him one day when he reads through the court judgment in his foster home.

Now that obesity is the new smoking, can we look forward to fat parents having their children taken away as well? After all, if the parents failed to follow NHS guidance on diet and exercise then it’s not just that they are making their own flawed choices and decisions — they are a drain on the public finances. Chief Executive Stevens has already warned that, ‘We’ve got the biggest use of fizzy sugary drinks of any country in Europe’ and said that producers and retailers risk ‘poisoning’ people, with long-term costs to us all.

The problem with all this neologism and talk of epidemics is that only one entity benefits and grows its power — the organisation of which our government increasingly becomes simply the political wing. In 2001, the NHS absorbed a quarter of government departmental spending. Under David Cameron this will rise to more than a third. In this set-up the organisation’s potential for setting unreachable targets could be endless. Consider the NHS’s advice on drinking. A poll carried out last year by the World Health Organisation placed Britons among the worst binge drinkers in the world. But consider what now constitutes a ‘binge’. The NHS’s own definition includes ‘drinking to feel the effects of alcohol’ and includes as little as two glasses of wine. It is all very well to laugh, but really you should consider the long-term costs to the NHS of people who drink half a bottle of wine once a month.

NHS chiefs are proud of saying that one in three children born in an NHS hospital today is likely to live to 100, but good luck to them if they try. The final intrusion into their lives will come if they are not still a fully productive member of the economy in their nineties. Then the heirs of Lord Falconer and Baroness Warnock will explain that they are not just wasting their family’s time but — in Warnock’s words — ‘the resources of the NHS’. Already you hear it mentioned in government that an 80-year-old costs the NHS seven times as much as a 30-year-old. The Institute for Fiscal Studies did the sums earlier this year and it’s not hard to see how the idea will grow that older people — by staying around — become burdens and eventually enemies of the state.

It’ll be a fine balancing act for generation 100, that’s for sure. But they will have volunteered for it. In the same way that massive intrusion into our online lives came not from ‘big brother’ but from our own desire to share the minutiae of our lives with the world, so the great intrusion into what we do with our bodies came not just through some top-down diktat but from a rising and generalised agreement about the most efficacious use of the public coffers. An opt-in health insurance system allows you to take whatever risks you are willing to pay for with your own body, whereas the NHS gives everybody an interest in everybody else’s body. And without strong ethical or moral guidance from any other source this rampant utilitarianism becomes the dominant ethic in the land. It does seem to have some idea of a life well lived: a non-smoking, non-drinking fitness fanatic who starts a family in their most productive years and has the decency to die at just the moment when they risk taking out more money than they have put in.

It will keep the NHS in perpetual business, of course. And it may be that one day we will be able to produce a comprehensive budget breakdown for how to live the new ideal life. But this new more-than religion still leaves one noticeably gaping question: what is it all for?

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  • Rockin Ron

    Gvyudh

  • Latimer Alder

    I wonder at the NHS worship. Its just a way of financing health care…and not one that any others have chosen to copy in the 70 years of its existence.

    We should view it critically – as any other public service – not as a god to be heeded, appeased and venerated. Most of the time it does a semi-competent job…but when its bad its a disgrace.

    • A Free Man

      Actually Singapore did copy it…

      But then in the 1984 they had the good sense to abandon it. Almost like they actually objectively looked at he results rather than worshipped the ideal.

      • greggf

        Britain never abandons any public service that its politicians can meddle with. The NHS, Education, Welfare etc., have all suffered from political tinkering with the rules as the shade of colour of government changes. It’s part and parcel of the FPTP system where an MP can respond to a constituent’s lobbying for this or that by fiddling an entitlement or something.
        This is our problem with the EU. We like to knife and fork our public services which allows others (foreigners) to enjoy them too on the basis of precedent, whereas on the Continent there is mostly a system which is run by insurance companies who are impervious to such entreaties.

    • Fried Ch’i

      OKAY! So you chaps and lasses are finally ready to explore Farage’s
      Germanic healthcare system proposals. We finally got there in the end.

      • flipkipper

        We did not get there in the end – look at all the right whinging and aged hotshots still not engaging properly in a subject matter that would mostly concern them.

        • Fried Ch’i

          Rule number one in life, my son.
          When you’re broke then you’re f e * k e d .

        • Latimer Alder

          You ask us to look at those folk. OK – where are they to look at?

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      • Hironimous Nostril

        Should be as successful as UKIP.

      • Dogsnob

        But we are not at the end.

    • Rui Nunes

      We need to make people more responsible for their health, there is a price to pay for their choices, whether it’s obesity, drug abuse or alchool intake lack of exercise etc as it stands the general tax payer foots the bill, I certainly believe that there should be charges, they should be shown the actual cost of their treatment including the cost of drugs, and should always pay something towards it even if it’s just a token amount
      Also the range and scope should be cut back,

    • CynicalEng

      Not just financing, you could have public funding of healthcare without a Stalinist monolith provider.

  • bruce

    take things to their logical conclusion.
    We are close to the threshold of a tyranny in the form of the soviet bloc from the war to the 80’s, if we are not already over the threshold.

    Free will and the rights of the individual are now replaced by the state, its staff and the pressure groups that influence it.

    In the birth place of the rights of man and individual liberty.

    I do not see the pendulum swinging now, it is too late.

  • sandy winder

    The argument that smokers pay more in taxes than they cost in cancer (forgetting the cost of other smoker-related sickness and lower productivity from fag breaks,etc) so it is ok to get cancer to be more than a little obtuse. Why not also argue that 40-50 year olds who commit suicide is to be commended because they have paid their taxes and will save the country a fortune in pensions? There is a huge problem with obesity and it needs to be tackled, not by the nanny state but by cutting benefits to people who are morbidly obese and do nothing to remedy the problem. If nothing else it should cut their food bill and save the country money.

    • Damaris Tighe

      Your argument at first reading sounds non-leftist, but in fact it’s very collectivist. Statements such as ‘there is a huge problem with obesity’ or ‘save the country money’ by targeting lifestyles concede the idea that it’s the state’s job to monitor individual choices. This only sounds like a rational argument when you concede that the state should get directly involved with medical care in the first place. Once you make that concession, all the interference follows.

      • Fried Ch’i

        That concession was made at the NHS’s inception – d’oh.

        • Damaris Tighe

          D’oh …. that’s exactly the point I’m making. Glad you agree.

          • Fried Ch’i

            If you are making that fatuous point why not also make the point that Farage is clearly making;

            Bismarck conceived the Germanic healthcare system 65 years earlier (in 1883) and my word when it comes to healthcare above all else these f e * k i n Germans can’t get anything right can they?

          • blandings

            You’re an idiot – go away.

  • discoveredjoys

    It wouldn’t be so bad but some of the lifestyle advice preached by the NHS is not well supported by science. They get some stuff right (e.g. smoking is bad for your health) but they also recommend diets high in complex carbohydrates to diabetics (probably wrong in most cases) and diets low in fat (based on almost no science but one man’s crusade), and are geared up to treating symptoms rather than prevention.

    Do you accept dogma? If you don’t the doctors get sniffy. Seems more like a religion than ever.

  • James

    The NHS needs to be sorted out. It’s overbloated, inefficient, far too expensive and not particularly good.
    I’d much rather pay for private than have my money automatically go towards the NHS.

    • pete084

      Nice if you have the choice!
      Ask many Americans how good private healthcare is, most will say overbloated, expensive, extremely efficient at billing, and still no better than the NHS.
      If by “not particularly good” you mean private rooms with TV, telephone, daily papers and personal nurse, then yes I will concede that the NHS can’t compete with that.

      • James

        People in the US have a very blasé approach to their healthcare – so long as it’s covered by their insurance, who cares how well the money is spent. I’d prefer spending my own money in a more efficient manner than either taxes or health insurance in the US model, and I think the NHS, if it were to reform itself, could perform that rather well.
        And by “not particularly good”, I mean not having to wait 6 hours to see a doctor if I turn up unannounced, having a health service that is adequately equipped to deal with the problems caused by an increasing population and the A&E blockers – people who go for anything from a stubbed toe to a splinter.

        • Grumpy

          Why is the NHS only ever compared to the faulty US system, when there plenty of perfectly good mixed State/Private Insurance schemes around the world that produce better results than either at lower costs? The only way that a “free” service like the NHS can ever provide even mediocre care to the many is by rationing that care. One can imagine a graph whereby the day will come when the NHS will consume 100% of government income unless drastic reform takes place.

          • James

            There must be a reason why – with the exception of Cuba, North Korea and presumably Venezuela – most countries don’t have an entirely state funded healthcare system…

          • Fred Uttlescay

            Must there?

          • davidofkent

            Quite right. Both the French and German systems are part funded by taxes and topped up by health insurance. They seem to deliver very good healthcare.

          • Tom M

            In France the state pays for something like 75 -80% of treatment costs. The insurance (not obligatory) pays the rest. Except; if the problem is life threatening then the state pays everything. If it is a car accident the car insurance pays. If it is an accident at work the employer’s insurance pays.
            To even attempt a comparison between the NHS and the French health care system is all but impossible. They are both called health care systems but there the similarity ends. The range of services available and the degrees to which they are provided are worlds apart.
            A recent example; Our neighbour 87 lives on her own (in France) went a bit funny recently confusing night and day.
            We telephoned the daughter (who lives a long way away).
            She arrived next morning and visited her mother’s GP (no appointment)
            Next day the GP arrived to assess the old lady.
            The following morning and ever since an aid arrives around 8:00am to help the old lady out of bed and make sure she has some breakfast.
            The district nurse comes in in the afternoon to supervise her taking her teblets.
            Once a week another aid comes in for the afternoon to do the housework.
            Can’t see a service like that being provided by the NHS somehow.

          • Margot

            And interesting would be to compare the hyper-inflated doctors’ salaries of this country with other European countries – where they are able to employ more at lower salaries.

      • Lindsay Jenkins

        What rubbish. The NHS is well understood in the US: socialised medicine and poor, very poor.

        • Fred Uttlescay

          If you have to tell lies to make your case it isn’t really worth making.

      • Tom M

        Why is it that when any discussion starts by complaining about the NHS people like you instantly draw comparisons with the USA?
        Why don’t you compare the French Health Service with the NHS they are a lot closer to the UK and it might surprise you to find out how it works and why it is incomparably better.

    • JoeCro

      you would end up paying much more for your healthcare and the treatment you receive would be dictated by what your health insurance provider is willing to fund

      • davidofkent

        OTOH, you won’t have to wait three months to see a specialist, or risk being told by your GP to take paracetamol.

        • JoeCro

          GPs are specialists in being able to recognise what needs treated and what can be left alone. Their skills should not be underestimated.

      • Damaris Tighe

        Not necessarily. There are several countries where universal health care is provided by private insurers, within a framework subsidised & with parameters defined by the state. I experienced one of them. It was compulsory, extraordinarily cheap, everyone was included unconditionally & had the choice between competing insurers who owned their own facilities.

        • Hironimous Nostril

          Sounds marrvellous. It’s not everywhere that you find insurance companies that are non-profit making.

          • van Lomborg

            Bullseye.

          • flipkipper

            …and of course totally unacceptable to the DT nutter and her systemically reduced followership.

          • Tom M

            All you need is a government to demand it happens. It works just exactly lke that all over Europe except in the UK that is.

          • Hironimous Nostril

            Our funding model is the best.

          • Hironimous Nostril

            Why not leave the funding as it is?

          • Tom M

            Because it isn’t working (and never has).

        • JoeCro

          That would in effect be a state run system, instead of paying money in tax you pay via compulsory insurance which acts as an intermediary between the individual and government.

          • Damaris Tighe

            State subsidised (everyone paid a small contribution to all treatments & appointments), not directly state run.

          • JoeCro

            Not convinced that would work out cheaper. How much contribution would you want from the patient for something like a hip replacement that costs upwards of £10 000? A single night in hospital is approx £300 without any specific treatment. A Chest X ray would be around £50. A spinal MRI is about £700. Many people do not realise the full costs of modern health care.

          • Damaris Tighe

            The other countries mentioned in the thread seem to manage. One of the problems here is that people don’t realise the costs of treatment because they’re hidden at the point of delivery. When I lived abroad & received a receipt for my medication (for which I paid only a percentage which was usually less than our prescription charge) I was made fully aware of my drugs’ cost.

            But it’s not only about costs – it’s about the efficiency & effectiveness of delivery. The NHS provides very poor value for money as a means of delivering universal health care. Other systems do it better. But we can’t change our system because, as Douglas says, the NHS is a religion.

          • JoeCro

            I reject that assessment, the UK gets broadly similar outcomes to our European neighbours, Canada, USA etc at lower cost and is actually more efficient and very good value.

            http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jun/17/nhs-health

      • Tom M

        Two people (retired in France) health insurance that covers anything that a hospital might want to charge for with an annual limit on dental work and spectacles. With some choices of specialists and hospital accomodation costs us about 200€/month (£150).
        Can be a lot cheaper if you are happy with what the hospital offers in rooms and facilities and accept the specialists they offer.
        There are numerous insurance companies offering competetive “assurance complimentaire” at many levels of choice and costs. All the insurance companies are not-for-profit and the national health service’s IT system integrates with all of them. You make a a visit to the GP present your “carte vitale” into the computer it goes and that is the last thing you need to do. A statement will arrive in a few weeks time telling you who charged what and who paid it.
        It just all works and believe me the 200€/month is money very well spent.

        • JoeCro

          France spends far more on health spending than the UK with little difference in clinical outcomes.

          • Tom M

            That is probably true at the moment but a look at the expenditure since the war (both the NHS and the French health Service were created in the same month and year) tells you that the differences haven’t been all that different.
            Anyway as I say the two systems are not comparable. If you want to continue thinking that you as a patient will have the same outcome in either you go on doing that but that won’t solve the fundamental problems of the NHS.

          • JoeCro

            What are the fundamental problems? The NHS is cheaper and achieves broadly similar outcomes. The NHS was considered the best system amongst the OECD countries by the independent Commonwealth fund.

          • Tom M

            This is hard work JoeCro,
            Before making these sorts of statements just find out who actually wrote them. Have a look at the principle members of the Commonwealth fund and see if any name rings a bell. Here’s a clue, try comparing those names with the NHS bosses.

          • JoeCro

            What are the fundamental problems? Give me an example.

    • Hironimous Nostril

      All of us would rather spend less money if we can get away with it.

    • JoeCro

      Nothing to stop you going private.

  • Andy M

    You get what you ask for/demand, not what you pay (or don’t pay) for. There are anecdotes thrown to-and-fro from either side trying to prove that private or NHS healthcare is better, but ultimately it’s down to us as individuals to work out how we can get the best for ourselves in any particular situation. If you aren’t happy with the treatment you receive ask for a different doctor, or go private, or vice-versa.

    If you have a local NHS hospital that you know is reknowned for excellent results in diagnosing and curing back pain issues, you wouldn’t bother to pay out for private which may in that instance be offering less expert care. However if you have an average hospital nearby that doesn’t appear to excel at anything and has a reputation for being just ‘ok’, then you might well want to consult an expert elsewhere on private healthcare if it’s something you consider to be of huge importance to your health.

  • Damaris Tighe

    When medical care is provided by the state, it’s inevitable that the state will think it has the right to take an intrusive interest in people’s lifestyle choices & the minutiae of their day to day lives.

  • realfish

    ‘Enemies of the state’? That will also be those ‘blasphemers’ who speak up and blow the whistle on appalling care or who demand change. As Diane Abbott once said, ‘ The NHS is the third rail of British politics. ..touch it at your peril.’

    Which reminds me, speaking of the obesity epidemic, I’m currently sat in a hospital waiting room ‘up North and it’s true, there’s a lot of obesity about. Sadly most of the people waddling around are NHS staff.

    • Hermine Funkington-Rumpelstilz

      Why not be more specific and identify women, that wouldn’t be discriminatory, it would paint and accurate picture saying it as it is.

      • Fried Ch’i

        I blame fruitcakes and the Women’s Institute, me.
        Men just have beer bellies and the price of a pint coupled with austerity has taken care of that.

    • emma2000

      Most of the nurses I know smoke too, not that I mind being a smoker myself but I hate the hypocrisy of it all.

      • GraveDave

        Smoking nurses! Phoaw!

  • Frederick Bee

    The continuous talk of “crisis” is the largest single problem, is mostly untrue, and is founded on a misrepresentation of data. Take A&E as one example. Someone set a target that 95% of A&E admissions should be dealt with within four hours (why those numbers?) Only 94% get dealt with in four hours and this is presented as an A&E crisis. An alternative presentation is that we are very lucky to have a “free at point of use” service that handles 94% of claimed emergencies within four hours. Now this is not to deny that A&E service could not be improved, mainly if people stopped going there with non-emergency ailments; but it is far from being a “crisis” if one or two problems arise along the way.

    • fundamentallyflawed

      On the one hands politics – What would the opposition talk about if it worked well

      On the other money – All public sectors cry out for more tax payer cash from the magic money tree

  • Seat of Mars

    Rabid adoration of the NHS is nothing more than virtue signalling. Individualism, political correctness and “you can’t judge me” culture has swept away all of our traditional moral touchstones regarding sex, religion, materialism, consumption, prudence, work ethic etc etc.

    So angrily defending the NHS goes hand in hand with “anti-racism” as the only things that the liberal mind can legitimately moralise about. Hence the extremity of their rhetoric and the elevation of both to semi-religious status.

  • SimonToo

    Logan’s Run draws nearer.

    • Hermine Funkington-Rumpelstilz

      When half the population born today will turn 100 naturally?
      Well, enema me sideways, oh youngish one.

    • blandings

      I remember seeing that film when I was young.
      Bumping off the over thirties seemed like a really good idea at the time.
      Still, wisdom comes with maturity I find.

      • The Masked Marvel

        It would be simpler and more productive to bump off only those over thirty who are still Socialists.

  • David

    I don’t expect a rational debate here or anywhere else about the NHS.
    Already political sloganeering has arrived in the form of “look what health costs are in the USA” type of comment.
    The BBC too can be guaranteed to bombard the public daily with propaganda, dressed up as news or entertainment, glorifying the NHS.
    Most of the public actually think that the NHS is free! Try telling them that spending is over £40 per week for per person and they wouldn’t believe you.

    • A Free Man

      Ah yes the old ‘free’ chestnut. people do like to conflate free at the point of use with free. Also for those that don’t contribute to the state I guess it is free

      • davidofkent

        For millions, all public services are entirely free. That is why demand is so high.

        • A Free Man

          Aye; why do anything for yourself when someone else will do it for nothing

        • Damaris Tighe

          The pressure on GPs & the huge problem of missed appointments could be ameliorated at a stroke by making a small charge for appointments (with exemption for the elderly). But even suggest it & the screams from the worshippers at the altar of the NHS rise to the rafters.

          • fundamentallyflawed

            Who will pay a charge. Elderly? Exempt. Children? Exempt? Benefit recipients? Exempt.

            The charging will start with those who can least afford it – the working poor who are above most benefit thresholds and have to pay for everything instead – prescriptions , child care housing.

            So they too will be made exempt ( as progressives will argue that its regressive taxation).

            Of course to administer these charges the NHS will have to hire claims managers, devise an appeals procedure, a collection department…….

          • Damaris Tighe

            I’ve already said the elderly should be exempt. Those with chronic illness could also be exempt. If the charge were, say, £5 (less than the cost of 20 ciggies) I doubt many people would have genuine problems paying. I don’t see why the surgery itself couldn’t take payment when the appointment is made. Any additional costs of administration could be fully or partially covered by payments made by those who don’t turn up to appointments. A few months ago my surgery had over 200 no-turn ups to booked appointments in 4 weeks.

            I don’t care what the ‘progressives’ argue about regressive taxation. Making a small contribution for a service booked (I don’t say ‘used’ deliberately) is not taxation. And many of the rich don’t use NHS GPs anyway.

          • Tom M

            Quite agree. I suppose it won’t alter fundamentalyflawed’s point of view much to tell him such a system as you describe work exceptionally well in France.
            You pay 23€ to visit the GP (that’s his salary by the way so note the exchange of money is in both the patient and the GP’s interests). The government gives you back all but 7€ and the insurance (if you have it) pays the rest. Facilities exist if you aren’t too well off.
            Complicated? Sounds like it but then you need a working IT system for that. Sort of thing computers are good at apparently. Their IT system works everywhere in the health system from the GP to the hospital all it’s ancillary services and right into the chemist’s shop.
            After a visit to the GP and paying your 23€, without fail the transaction I have described will be completed and any money returned to your bank account without touching the sides.
            Can’t work in Britian though we’re different.

          • Linda Smith

            Problem is that the French system is in financial meltdown too.

          • Tom M

            “Problem”?
            If you are running the nation’s finances then that could be seen as a problem. If however you are a patient and need treatment then the French health service doesn’t have a problem the NHS does.

          • JoeCro

            France has less inequality, a cabbage is not a banana.

          • Tom M

            Sometimes I wonder just what people use for information these days. Where on this God’s earth do you get that sort of idea from?
            The French Health Service is available to all, everywhere and always has been. The difference is that you can choose (and pay for) a better standard of accomodation and if you so desire you can choose your specialist and or hospital.
            It might also interest you to know that the French have no problem whatsoever with private money providing services. You will find hospitals built and run by private money (called clinics ) but just as open to the population as any other. You will find a telephone directory stuffed with district nurses, physiotherapists, ambulances drivers, hearing specialists in fact just about anything connected with health and all self employed working for the health care system.

          • JoeCro

            The cost of the French health system is significantly higher than the UK. If the UK government decided to match French spending on health taxes would have to rise significantly. Individuals in the UK have the choice of using Spire, Bupa etc.

          • Des Demona

            You forgot to mention though that France spends 3000 Euros per capita on Health compared to UK 2,500.

            OECD

            http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/download/8112121ec052.pdf?expires=1433591849&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=E0D95F26D6C34E66565490AEF151865D

          • Tom M

            I didn’t forget to mention it at all. In one reply I made on this thread you will find I made reference to this being so at the moment but not necessarily the case in previous years (the NHS and French system were created at the same time).
            I also pointed out that the differences between the two systems are way beyond whatever differences exist in Government expenditure.

          • JewishKuffar

            Charging 5p for a supermarket plastic bag has resulted in a huge reduction in waste. Why not £10 for a missed GP appointment?

          • Damaris Tighe

            Paying for a missed appointment would be difficult to collect. Better a lower amount when the appointment is booked.

          • rtj1211

            You want to ask yourself whether poor people (who tend to get ill more than average) have £5 to spare to ‘pay’ for an appointment. It’s always the middle class, comfortably off who say things like this. When you’ve lived on a shoestring for 5 years (I know what it’s like) you know that there isn’t 50p to spare, let alone £5. As it is, you can’t replace clothes when you need to, your food budget is stretched and you wear extra in bed because you can’t afford to pay the heating bills.

            Where does £5 for a mere doctor’s appointment come from if you can’t heat your own house in winter, eh??

          • Damaris Tighe

            Please don’t assume that I’m ‘comfortably off’. I know all about the stringencies you write about.

          • Damaris Tighe

            PS to my earlier reply: I’ve lived in a country where there is nothing like the social security that there is here. Everyone pays an approx £5 contribution for their GP or even specialist appointment. It was never an issue because people were used to it.

          • Tom M

            Have a look at some of my other posts on this thread on the subject of health services.
            You identify those who cannot pay for GP appointments as if they don’t exist in other countries who charge for GP visits. They do, believe me, and the system of payments to the GP caters for that and still manages to work to the system’s advantage.
            I live in France and knowing how close the French are to revolution or at least taking to the streets if something isn’t going how they think it should it would surprise you to learn they think there is nothing wrong with paying the GP at all. Nobody complains.
            They also do other silly things such as:
            ask tourists to pay for their treatment (NHS think this would be too expensive to do)
            ask patients to return items such as crutches (NHS thinks this would be too expensive to do)
            actually check the qualifictions of medical staff seeking employment in the NHS (NHS thinks this would be too expensive to do).

          • JoeCro

            The French pay substantially more for their health care then the British. There is very little difference in clinical outcomes. The leading cause of ill health in the UK is inequality, there is very little the NHS can do for that.

          • Tom M

            Of course inequality is uniquely a British phenomenon couldn’t happen anywhere else.
            If you want to wait a fortnight to see the GP or have to wait till the Government passes an act of Parliament to ensure you are seen by a specialist in a reasonable time, fine the NHS is doing great. If you think money is the issue then remember the money poured into the NHS by Blair et al and measure the result. I see Jeremy Hunt has given the NHS all they have asked for. Without any shadow of doubt that will not cure the problem and this debate will go on and on as it has since the NHS was created.
            I presume from your posts you haven’t actually had much to do with the French health service. When you have come back again and talk to me about your experiences.

          • JoeCro

            The UK is one of the most unequal states in the EU. As long as that remains the case then the UK will continue to struggle with certain health issues. Blaming the NHS misses the broader picture. Sort inequality and the health of the nation will improve.

          • John Lea

            Funny, the so-called ‘poorest in society’ can always seem to fin enough cash to drink like fish, smoke like looms, and eat their way through endless ready meals. Then make their way to the nearest food bank to grub even more junk to stuff into their repulsive gobs.

          • Mr B J Mann

            >>”the elderly should be exempt. Those with chronic illness could also be exempt. If the charge were, say, £5 (less than the cost of 20 ciggies) I doubt many people would have genuine problems paying.”
            >>” I don’t see why the surgery itself couldn’t administer the payment when the appointment is made.”
            Wot?

            Being charged for a free NHS service??!?!?!

            You mean like at the Chemist or Dentist’s?!?!?!?!?

          • Linda Smith

            What is usually overlooked is that 1. GP surgeries are private businesses and 2. Dentists have no problem in charging and taking money from patients.

          • Grace Ironwood

            The small sum has a psychological aspect that could lead to more probity in users’ behaviour if implemented: if you pay you are invested in the venture.
            Dog’s homes now ask for considerable money for formerly-free stray dogs and these bodies have found that there is now less dumping of the animals.

          • JoeCro

            NHS GPs are private contractors.

          • Damaris Tighe

            They may be private but they’re not independent.

          • CynicalEng

            Would the £5 be discounted off the £8.20 prescription charge levied on the few that pay ?

          • Grace Ironwood

            We have just touched the political nerve with this proposal in Australia, “seven dollars” I think. It provoked an extraordinary backlash with much scenery-chewing by Labour and the menagerie in the senate.
            Even one cent is too much. No departure from the strict principle of Free.

          • Damaris Tighe

            A few decades ago prescriptions here were free. Now each item costs around £9 (although many people are exempt). At least two generations have never known any other regime & take it for granted.

          • CynicalEng

            If a GP could deliver an appointment on time I might be prepared to listen to complaints about missed appointments. If they can be 40 minutes late for an 09.10 appointment I simply don’t care.

      • Hermine Funkington-Rumpelstilz

        Pensioners?

        • Leftyliesrefuted

          Public-sector pensioners, possibly. Those with private pensions are still paying tax (from non-state sources).

    • Dogsnob

      More chance here than most forums I would have thought.

    • Rui Nunes

      Next week I will be starting a new job, my expected NI bill will be around 4k, it’s now almost as big as the the tax bill, try and get private health insurance and see how quickly the life choices impact on the premiums. We as the general tax payers should concentrate more on those that are ill through no fault of their own, most of the others should pay more if they have made wrong choices

  • graeme jones

    Douglas, i usually like what you write, but this is slanted nonsense.

    In a society, everyone has responsibilities to each other. If you forgo these responsibilities, then you forgo the benefits of society.

    The NHS (god forbid, the state actually doing its job), is picking up the slack because civil society hasn’t touched health with a barge pole.

    Perhaps if you took some responsibility and started a persuasive healthy eating campaign, you wouldnt need to lambast the state.

    But of course, you won’t because that would give you less things to moan about for a career.

    • Damaris Tighe

      What other people choose to put in their bodies should be none of your business. It has only become your business because your taxes are being used to fund them. This has given you & other commentators the notion that you have the right to be interested in how other people consume those taxes. By conceding the state’s direct involvement in medical care, you have conceded a whole package of state intrusion into individual choices.

      • graeme jones

        I have no quarrel with skinny libertarians.

        Liberty and responsibility should be joined at the hip.

        • Damaris Tighe

          What about fat libertarians? Are you taking on the right to dictate how they feed themselves?

          • graeme jones

            Fat libertarians with private healthcare are fine by me.

          • blandings

            I agree, provided that the fat libertarians are not compelled to provide funding for the NHS as well funding for their private healthcare.

          • Fred Uttlescay

            I think there should be a tax on private healthcare to subsidise the NHS.

          • blandings

            Why?

          • Fred Uttlescay

            It supplies back up and emergency services to the hotel hospitals you enthuse about.

          • blandings

            No need – You get no more and no less than you insure for.
            You’re just trying to get those who pay for their own medical cover to pay for your appallingly inadeqate NHS as well – No way Jose

          • Fred Uttlescay
          • blandings

            The Independent?
            What else do you read – Enid Blyton

          • Fred Uttlescay

            It was in many newspapers, Noddy.

          • Fred Uttlescay

            Ah, but they do already, and that is unlikely to change.

          • JoeCro

            When private treatment goes wrong you are put in ambulance and sent to an NHS hospital.

          • red2black

            No return to a situation where a rich man’s broken leg gets fixed, but a poor man’s doesn’t.

          • blandings

            Quite agree
            That’s what’s so good about medical insurance – Your broken leg gets fixed.

          • red2black

            Only if you can afford it.

          • blandings

            I am quite happy for the state to use my taxes to pay insurance premiums of those who really cannot afford it.

          • red2black

            Pleased to hear it. It would be interesting to know how many private healthcare staff are NHS-trained, and how much of the conservatively estimated £85bn a year of corporate welfare goes to the private healthcare industry.

          • Fred Uttlescay

            Did you know the NHS is not only one of the best, but also one of the least expensive? The reason? No piggy insurance companies with their corporate noses in the trough.

          • blandings

            No Fred, because it isn’t the best.
            My father in law was being left to rot to death in one of your fabulous NHS hospitals, Fortunately his wife fed him and tended to him, twice a day every day, until we managed to get him out of that stinking hole.

          • Fred Uttlescay

            And it makes the dividend higher on your insurance company shares.

          • blandings

            I have no shares.
            Still, you can believe whatever cr@p you want if it makes you feel good about yourself.

      • JoeCro

        On that basis all illegal drugs should decriminalised.

      • Hermine Funkington-Rumpelstilz

        Oh the false dichotomy of the NHS conceptual model elucidated to perfection.

    • davidofkent

      ‘fewer things’. A rant isn’t a rant without correct English.

    • GraveDave

      In a society, everyone has responsibilities to each other. If you forgo these
      responsibilities, then you forgo the benefits of society.

      Commie.

      • red2black

        I’m not religious, but… that sounds more like a Christian sentiment, rather than a Communist one.

  • misomiso

    Nice article Doug.

    But strategically its still foolish to go for reform. The lesson from Cameron’s first term is that trying to tackle everything in one go is to hard and makes you too many enemies.

    Better to completely change Welfare, Education, Defence and the Civil Service and the Quangos first, THEN do health. Change education to a total voucher system, remove the Defence bureaucracy, delete the welfare trap, and eviscerate the Civil Service and the Quangos. That way, the only big public sector Union left to tackle (Health workers) will be in a weaker position.

    Then you can start introducing health insurance for richer people, and gradually convert to an Israeli or Australian system.

  • mrsjosephinehydehartley

    Remember TV’s” Opportunity Knocks”? ” ..and here’s your host..Huey Green!” ?

    Life and death, and everything inbetween, even beyond ( at either end) , including war and peace, buying and selling, marrying or otherwise, is now a big argument as to exactly who should be ” our host” . It seems to me.

  • Hermine Funkington-Rumpelstilz

    Your choice of illustraiton is bizarre to say the least. What is Merkel and Pickles doing sitting in the docks having to endure the rants of that primate Richard Dawkins?

  • St Ignatius

    I had to enter an NHS building recently, which I thought was abandoned but actually turned out to be a working hospital.

    • Fred Uttlescay

      You were looking for psychiatric care and walked into a cupboard?

      • St Ignatius

        Ah so it was you who I met in the loony ward. Why were you hiding in that cupboard, by the way?

  • Mr TaxPayer

    The NHS is neither national nor a service. And it’s staff aren’t particularly healthy either.

    What you can get on the National HS depends on which of our 4 nations you live in.

    It seems better suited to serving itself rather than patients; patients and customers are not the same thing. In terms of money and customer service, the patients’ relationship with the NHS is a the same as the rat’s relationship with Rentokil.

    Have a look at obesity figure within the NHS itself. Take a walk round any hospital and see how many fatties are among the clinical staff.

  • AJH1968

    If we are talking about national health surely shows like X-factor, and keeping up with those wretched Kardassians should be considered toxic, and banned (God I do hope so). These shows not only present a significant mental problem but also seem to breed an army of couch potatoes.

  • Abi

    And after this manner therefore pray ye:

    Our doctors, who art in A&E, hallowed be thy name.

    Thy treatment come, thy will be done, at home as in hospital.

    Give us this day our daily meds,

    And forgive us our indulgence, as we forgive those who indulge.

    And lead us not into NHS-denial, but deliver us from an insurance-based system: for yours are our taxes, and the power, and the glory, for ever.

    Amen.

    • flipkipper

      Non profit making insurance based healthcare. Where have we seen that already implemented? Where? Where?

      • Fried Ch’i

        I don’t know! Where?

      • Merlin007

        Australia, Germany, Hollandf, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, France would you like some more ?

        • Fried Ch’i

          More, more!

  • Zed largo

    Unable to articulate the need for a feeling based and emotionally connected, caring, empathic and sensitive society the culture couches its needs in terms that this materiality obsessed culture understands: the ‘science’ of healthcare. The NHS is, quite precisely, a surrogate institution in place of its lost spirituality; which traditionally carried the hearts of people and their aspiration for mutual love and affection. Healing is not just about repairing bodies.

    The NHS is now expected to be the home to medical dispensers of nannying kindness and support along with their medications and ointments. The fact is that the NHS is an institution designed to deliver material solutions and not be nannies to every whim and problem faced by people. And the fact is that although medical practitioners care for the physical body, their work is totally blind to the spiritual, psychological and emotional needs of people, which they hopelessly and unsuccessfully try to reduce to physical problems.

    Yes, the frustrations with the NHS need to be properly understood, and when they are understood we might begin to see that the world of scientific medicine does not understand the deep causes of human misery, and nor do they have they a single clue as to how to deal with them. The NHS is a bad surrogate for religion, and one that can deliver not a single cure for the deep suffering of the soul, which is where life’s pain ultimately must be faced.

  • JabbaTheCat

    The NHS swung years ago from a health service that put its patients interests first, into a public sector make work scheme, that mainly puts its employees interests in front of those of the patient and woe betide anyone who dares question the cosy arrangement…

    • JoeCro

      You are speaking from a position of ignorance.

  • JSC

    I agree with everything in the article, but would also like to add the unpleasant thought of this vast, all powerful, church of the NHS’s forays into medicating/medicalising normal states of mind. Where will that lead? Stay tuned.

  • Gweedo

    The position of the NHS in the twenty-first century is analogous to the Church of England in the eighteenth: lots of unproductive, politicized functionaries on fat stipends, just begging for a bit of disruptive competition.

  • Observer1951

    I would like to know what proportion of my salary goes to the NHS. When I worked in Germany (2008-2012) I had to have compulsory health insurance which was deducted from my salary. I paid per month 600 euro for the most basic cover. Pretty steep in my opinion, I also had to pay to see a doctor GP who was useless, 20 euro

  • Sean Grainger

    I
    It should go further. Alongside food banks us over 65s should be able to pick up our daily parcel of a bottle of gin a bottle of cab Sauvignon and 80 Gitanes

  • SeeYouAnon

    ‘It’s your money too, citizen’ was a justification for Aktion T4.

    How much does that differ from this:

    Already you hear it mentioned …that an 80-year-old costs the NHS seven times as much as a 30-year-old. The Institute for Fiscal Studies did the sums earlier this year and it’s not hard to see how the idea will grow that older people — by staying around — become burdens and eventually enemies of the state.

    Just a short hop away, isn’t it. A very short hop.

    • GraveDave

      by staying around — become burdens and eventually enemies of the state.

      That’s why we shouldn’t buy into it. Even if some of it is driven by good intentions, ultimately these things get hijacked by the micro fascists, who really do want to control every aspect of our lives.

  • SeeYouAnon

    Perhaps the Institute for Fiscal Studies might like to calculate how much the average 80 year old has paid IN to the system, and continues to pay, vs the average 30 year old.

    Include stamp duty, IHT, capital gains tax, VAT, and any other tax you care to think of, as well as NIC and income tax, over the course of a working life.

    And then have another think.

  • davmut

    I am only alive and well in Spain because I had nothing to do with the UK NHS, it has become an oversized sacred cow employing so much pc cr@p

  • Stephen Milroy

    It is the last bastion of communism in western Europe. Hence why so many of the usual suspects clamour in favour of it.
    ‘It is our nation religion’. great our highest metaphysical goal is a bloated unworkable relic which allows people to starve to death in it…

  • Hironimous Nostril

    Nobody worships the NHS. Realising that direct funding from taxation is the best way to fund healthcare isn’t akin to treating it as a religion, you daft bugger.

    • fox holes

      Hiro, standards have got to rise. MRI scanners and breast screening in shipping containers, in the 21st century? Is this Honduras?

      • Fred Uttlescay

        Money is required. Unfortunately there are no money trees.

        • fox holes

          I am not going to explain QE to you, again.

    • EasyStreet

      Inclusion of NHS in London 2012 opening ceremony; extreme hostile treatment of Mid Staffs whistleblower from many quarters. For me these are just the most obvious, ‘measurable’ examples of the uncritical adulation heaped upon the service. I support the NHS but we don’t do it favours in the long term by setting it on a pedestal – a degree of sceptical inquiry is the only effective way that public bodies can be held to account.

    • Carved In Stone

      “direct funding from taxation is the best way to fund healthcare isn’t akin to treating it as a religion, you daft bugger.”

      Direct taxation is definitely not the best way to fund health care. Such a system has no natural incentive to raise standards, reduce costs, innovate, provide a good service or even provide adequate health care.

      In fact, even when patients are dying by the thousands in one hospital, or being murdered by the score in a GP’s surgery, the overriding impulse is to cover it up.

      You silly, silly sod.

      • Fred Uttlescay

        None of that has anything to do with funding. Direct funding means all the money goes into healthcare and not in the pockets of insurance companies. Insurance and private companies are no guarantee of a good service, in fact the hospital cleaning contracts and the GP out of hours service as Hiro says, not to mention the BUPA care homes scandal indicates the opposite is true.

        • Carved In Stone

          Of course it does. If every business in the country received ‘direct funding’ from the government, where would be their incentive to provide a good service?

          • Fred Uttlescay

            Good management is the key. Nothing whatsoever to do with how it is funded. In fact the privatising of NHS services resulted in disaster due to skimping and cost cutting so a profit is made.

          • red2black

            Corporate welfare is a form of direct public funding of private businesses to the tune of around £85bn a year in the UK.

    • It’s not the funding source that’s the issue, its the unthinking defence of public funding that makes the NHS a religion.

      Blind adherence to the status quo without debate or argument.. much like your comment.

      • Hironimous Nostril

        So it’s not the funding, it’s the funding.

        • No, its the blind adherence to view of how to fund the NHS despite any argument to the contrary.

          It is so entrenched in the public view of the NHS that any discussion of private involvement is heresy.

          • Hironimous Nostril

            We’ve seen ‘private involvement’ in hospital cleaning and the GP out of hours service. No thanks.

          • And we’ve seen a good old public sector cover up at mid staffs, a failure so terrible it would have closed a private company, and rightly so. We’ve found public ownership to be a bad idea in banking, in utilities, in phone companies and yet for some reason we’re blindly trusting in healthcare.

          • Hironimous Nostril

            Good management is required whether privatised or not, and privatised always costs more.

          • Mary Ann

            Don’t try to use Mid Staffs to justify getting rid of the NHS

          • Why not? Let me remind you of the “appalling suffering of many patients” and “an insidious negative culture involving a tolerance of
            poor standards and a disengagement from managerial and leadership responsibilities”

            It is simply not good enough to brush it under the carpet and not question the structure and principles that allowed this to happen.

            Your comment is exactly the problem. No facts, no argument, just dogma – what does “getting rid of the NHS” even mean? I never said anything about getting rid of it.

            All I want is an NHS we’re able to question, that allows us to demand decent care not horrible errors accepted because everyone’s “doing their best”.

          • Mary Ann

            Most of us don’t want to see shareholders making a profit out of our illnesses,

      • Mary Ann

        Political parties realise that if they don’t protect the NHS they will loose a lot of votes, Even Farage gave up the idea of having an American system when someone knocked some sense into his head.

  • Merlin007

    The Systems in Europe and Australia are far far better than the NHS.
    The crucial difference is that they do not give the money to a state monopoly service. They give it to the patients through the provision of universal insurance.
    As a result doctors and hospital (effectively private) see patients as an income not a cost and treat them appropriately.
    A simple but huge difference which results in better outcomes, clean hospitals, convenient appointments, better diagnostics and better food too.

    • Damaris Tighe

      Exactly. I tried to book an appointment with an NHS dental hygienist recently. 1) The surly receptionist treated me like a supplicant not a customer. 2) It’s impossible under the NHS to just see a hygienist – you first have to have a full dental checkup. In other words, the state system dictates the type of service I should receive. I gave up in disgust & went private.

      • noix

        I can compare it with the French system. In England it required three visits to a GP and two to a consultant before action which took time whilst the problem was getting worse. In France you can directly make an appointment with a consultant and set up treatment following the visit. There is more science done and the patient has more control. Even the receptionists are more professional here and less numerous. An appointment with the GP costs €23 upfront which is reimbursed, when I left the UK the practice I attended had a sign claiming a missed appointment cost £40 to them.

        • Damaris Tighe

          I’m all for charging for missed appointments although I’m guessing that the worst culprits here will never pay! That’s why I think a small charge – say £5 – for everyone when making an appointment is better.

          Try telling the NHS worshippers here that other systems are just as good if not better – they don’t want to hear.

          • noix

            France is the standard by which they judge the health systems in other countries. The problem here is the pharmacists who are protected. A packet of aspirin is not available at a supermarket and costs €5 instead of a few pence in the UK.

          • Damaris Tighe

            But even the availability of cheap OTC medicines here is connected with the NHS’s problems – successive UK governments have encouraged them in order to get people to self-medicate before seeing the overwhelmed GPs.

          • JoeCro

            You should not need to see a GP to confirm you have a cold.

          • Damaris Tighe

            Absolutely agree. Easy & cheap access to OTC meds is a good thing. But the reason they were made this accessible was, as I said, to ease pressure on overworked GPs.

          • Mary Ann

            Works both ways, people go to the doctor because they have a cold and others self medicate with OTC when they need to see the doctor.

          • Damaris Tighe

            Well yes, of course, you can’t stop that – unless you’d like social workers to vet people before buying OTC or booking a GP appointment.

          • Nessa

            Yet even though these OTC painkillers cost pence, some people still get them on prescription! This the extent people milk the system in the UK. I’d name and shame them all!

          • Mary Ann

            Yes but you can go to your doctor and get aspirin on prescription, it’s what the locals do.

            Not efficient.

          • Terry Field

            Silly comment. A pharmacist is a very valuable advisor and I use mine in France very regularly. I much prefer the French concentration of pharma products under the pharmacy sste. Less profits for the Tescos of this world, but as a Tesco s/holder, it has not done them much good.

          • noix

            I used mine in England for advice as well, often much better than the doctor. Having said that I stand by my comment. It is easy to see which types of enterprises are making excessive profits by their abundance eg estate agents and opticians. Sarkozy tried to reform the system but was beaten back by the profession.

        • Mary Ann

          Consultation with a Doctor in France 23 Euros, consultation with a vet 35 Euros.

          • noix

            Animals cannot answer questions.

          • red2black

            Yes they can. I asked my dog if his bed was comfortable, and he told me it was rough. (tee hee)

      • Mary Ann

        I think the NHS Dentist was right. Safer.

        • Damaris Tighe

          I had my own reasons for wanting to see the hygienist first, as quickly as possible, & in only one visit. It’s MY choice!

    • Augustus

      I read recently that in Holland many CEOs and board members of the 500 care groups operating in the Dutch medical centres, nursing and home care businesses were being paid enormous amounts for very little input. So perhaps not all of the money ends up with patients after all.

    • Mary Ann

      You should see the paper work though. The people of Britain want the money spent of Doctors and nurses, not clerks.

  • GraveDave

    The problem with all this neologism and talk of epidemics is that only one entity benefits and grows its power — the organisation of which our government increasingly becomes simply the political wing. In 2001, the NHS absorbed a quarter of government departmental spending. Under David Cameron this will rise to more than a third. In this set-up the organisation’s potential for setting unreachable targets could be endless.

    We need more articles like this.

    10/10

  • rtj1211

    The day Mr Douglas Murray is able to see that his religion is ‘US Christianity good, all else evil’ and the day he realises that genuine humanity is destroyed by the Imperialistic win-at-all-costs bullshit of that failed creed will be the day that the little twelve year old boy allowed to run riot through the UK Press is required to grow up and be a man for the first time in his life.

    Your inconsistencies of philosophy are so glaring Mr Murray that I would sneer and jeer at you for a living. The day you tell the USA to stop ruining the lives of hundreds of millions world wide is the day that your anti-state stuff has traction. You are just a ‘UK State bad, US domination good’ Orwellian sheep.

    You do not have the right to challenge that as I have summed up as the judge after you have put your case in the UK Press for far too long.

    The jury has been sent out to ask why the US State can have global reach but the UK one cannot even have local reach.

    And when they come back with a guilty verdict against you, you can resign your life in the UK Press and ask forgiveness for your unforgiveable hypocrisies at one of the least forgiving of altars. An Old Testament-style ‘eye-for-an-eye’ gunfight at the OK Corral………

    • GraveDave

      I dont usually agree with Douglas either.But it’s nice he occasionally hits the nail. Peter Oborne ( ‘Conservative Libertarian’) usually takes a lot of flak from the Right, but it often turns out (if only months later) that he got it right all along.

  • Nessa

    Good article. “The Institute for Fiscal Studies did the sums earlier this year and it’s not hard to see how the idea will grow that older people — by staying around — become burdens and eventually enemies of the state.” With this in mind, I fail to see why the system generally is so against voluntary euthanasia – surely this is the solution to people living ‘too long’ – let those that want to go, go! It’s far more humane too.

    • JoeCro

      The public cannot make their mind up on this. On one hand they demand the latest very expensive treatments for their elderly relatives in a futile gesture rather then allowing a natural death at home but then support ‘assisted dying’ , it is very contradictory.

  • Mharring

    At least, Douglas, you’ll never have the experience of being pregnant within the NHS. My first encounter with the system consisted of a two-hour session with a midwife in which I answered questions ranging from congenital diseases in my family, my husband’s occupation and state of mental health, whether we own our own home and whether I have ever used drugs, along with lectures on dietary risks in pregnancy (several of which shibboleths my own research has led me to conclude are spuriously evidenced at best) and a ten-minute disquisition on the virtues of breastfeeding. Why it is of interest to the NHS that we have a mortgage is beyond me but I gather this is just the beginning of the intrusions into my body and privacy in the name of my and my baby’s ‘wellbeing’.

    • JoeCro

      The social situation of mother and baby is very important. You are free not to have antenatal care if you wish and leave space to those who appreciate the care received.

  • AndrewMelville

    NHS= another bloated inefficient bureaucracy more interested in furthering the well being of its management and staff rather than fulfilling its mission – caring for its patients with basic health care.

    • Fred Uttlescay

      In general your criticism is unfounded.

    • JoeCro

      You are completely wrong, the NHS is outstandingly efficient in comparison with comparable countries.

      • AndrewMelville

        Really! Dirty slovenly wards with incompetent treatment – no thanks.

        I don’t blame the NHS – all massive centralized bureaucracies fail. We need to break it up and make it much smaller, and allow folk to vote with their feet. Some parts will excel, some will fail. The average will be much better – in both quality and cost.

        • Mary Ann

          Well if you can afford it, go private, save the NHS some money. Of course if something goes wrong you could end up in an NHS hospital, or if you have a Stroke, MI, RTA you will end up in the NHS

          • AndrewMelville

            That’s a great response. A better one would be let’s improve the NHSand reduce the money it wastes at the same time.

    • Mary Ann

      The NHS is one of the most efficient providers of health care for all. The French system may be better but it costs 50% more, as for the American system it costs nearly three times as much and only provides for the comfortably off part of the population.

      • AndrewMelville

        So you’re saying it’s terrible but not as bad as others.

  • mattghg

    Why should anyone get IVF treatment on the NHS?

    • red2black

      So they can have children.

    • Mary Ann

      Because their bodies are not functioning properly.

  • Joseph Hooker

    Medecine has the ability to keep people “alive” well past their sell by date. The consequences are that my dad at 91 ended up in a care home not recognising his wife and wearing a nappy. Do we really need to promote keeping people alive till they are 100 regardless of their faculties? Be careful what you wish for you may just get it.

    • JoeCro

      There are a lot of inconsistencies on the public view of healthcare for the old age population. Some relatives and families demand futile and expensive treatments for their elderly relatives rather than allow a natural death and then are up in arms about being ‘denied’ the right to euthanasia.

  • The Masked Marvel

    Treat the NHS / Global Warming / Diversity / Equality (delete as applicable) as a religion, and you give fascists the power to run your lives.

  • Lydia Robinson

    Is Douglas saying that doctors shouldn’t advise their patients to cut down on the cigs and fried food etc? Surely they have the same professional obligation as a teacher offering guidance to a pupil.

    • Tom M

      Correct, doctors should advise on what they think is a healthy lifestyle. But they should not try to influence Government policy. That, so far anyway, remains an individual’s choice. The information should be publically available and not much more.
      A teacher offering guidance to a pupil about what?
      I remember a parent’s evening a long time ago. The head teacher was telling the assembled parents how, if there was a problem in the household that may cause distress to the child, then the teacher should be made aware of it. One of the eyebrow raised parents responded that it would be a good idea also if the teacher informed the parents of anything untoward in the teacher’s home life that may effect the children under his or her care.
      I think a starting point for professional obligation would be numeracy and literacy. Once those hurdles have been overcome perhaps we can talk of extending the brief.

      • Lydia Robinson

        I did say “professional” which refers to guidance on academic matters.

  • red2black

    ‘Increasingly, we’re allowing the health service to boss us around to a ridiculous degree’ I’m not. Is there anyone else out there who isn’t?

    • Fred Uttlescay

      I’m not either. Does going to hospital count as being bossed around?

      • red2black

        Sing along now: “Just the two of us…” (tee hee)

  • Mr Grumpy

    Not improved by the off-topic rant at Prof. Nargund. What’s the objection to sex education covering fertility?

  • Dogsnob

    BBC News used to feature earthquakes, floods, tallies of Viet Cong dead and plane crashes; followed by football transfers and then capped-off with something smiley.

    There were ‘events’ that happened somewhere.

    Somewhere along the line the target-fail figures for A&E units were deemed to be newsworthy items – it seems every other week now, they drone out this stuff.

    When? Why? Who?

  • Margot

    If people are free to make choices about their health care such as delaying having children they shouldn’t expect to get IVF from the State -particularly as this seems to apply to high-earners building up careers. The NHS is there to treat the ill – not the infertile who have delayed using their fertile time of life.

  • jason

    you forgot homosexuality yh the spread of HIV and AIDS is big killer

  • The Old Man Of The Sea

    “You certainly can’t envy the teachers. In between teaching citizenship, national identity and the English language…”

    They’re failing on all three. It’s not just the Africans, Asians and East Europeans that have flooded my East Midland town that make it an English-free zone. The majority of the indigenes now gabble away in a manner that reminds one of flocks of starlings screeching away in the hawthorns.

    Nevertheless, Geeta Nargund shouldn’t worry too much about the subject of fertility. Those illiterate indigenes and third-world immigrants understand it very well.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Writing skills, and in particular spelling and grammar must have fallen off the “must do” list. If the submissions of Internet correspondents is anything too go by.

  • Grace Ironwood

    “what is it all for ? ” – The Collective.

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  • justsomeone

    Brilliant article. One of Murray’s best!

  • gray cooper

    The health dictatorship is why politicians remain unpopular. No country can support a growing population when there is no infrastructure to support it. Who are these paid from tax characters hectoring the public?

  • justsomeone

    I can’t think of anything worse than having one’s children taken away by force.
    Nothing worse for the parents and nothing worse for the children.
    I’m astounded that the courts did that.
    It’s as if the state has become a terrifying bully.
    “Go against our current ideology and we’ll bury you”.
    There’s an undeclared battle between those who believe the state should dictate and regulate everyone’s private life, those who want maximum state interference because they believe that they do and will continue to rule the state and between those who believe that the state should intrude as little as possible.

    Rights have always meant the right to be left alone, the right to not have the state do things to one. That’s why rights were so important.
    The new political correctness has twisted the very concept of rights and uses the new meaning to empower the state over individuals.
    I don’t believe there’s any adult whose parents smoked who wishes the state had forcibly removed him from his parents and put him in foster care or up for adoption. The very idea is laughable and monstrous at the same time.
    Some will not care about this. They’ll say “first they went for the smokers and for the children of parents who smoked, and I did nothing because I wasn’t a smoker”.

    Perhaps in the future they’ll forcibly remove children from parents who are against mass Muslim immigration, because they’ll stand accused of “indoctrinating their children into racism”.
    It isn’t only the NHS, it’s the state itself which is treated like a deity, like a God to be worshiped and assumes the most terrible form, wields horrendous power.

    Finally, it’s important to note that there are no actual lofty principles at stake.
    If the state truly believed in the supposed principles behind the removal of the child, they’d go after anyone with a car, since a great many children are either killed or injured in car accidents or are deprived of their parents in car accidents.
    The government’s only principle is to go against anyone who won’t adapt to their ideology. We live in an increasingly authoritarian state and if we keep on going the way we have been, we will be living in a truly totalitarian state that punishes its ideological enemies by going after their children.

  • Ποια είναι αλήθει

    Surely our young women have a right to be be aware of scientific facts about fertility and risks of childbirth so that they can make informed judgements as to when to have children. This is not dictating to people that they must have children at a certain age as assumed in the rant published above by the Spectator, but merely sensible policy.

    • Mc

      I suspect that women have been well aware of these facts since time immemorial, without needing a bureaucrat to tell them the bleeding obvious. The same goes for pontification about the innumerable other health issues.

  • Mc

    “The problem must be tackled, she explained, because of the spiralling costs to the NHS of IVF treatment for women who have left ‘trying for a baby’ to their thirties and forties”

    And of course, under a socialized healthcare system, everyone believes it is their right to receive free treatment for innumerable procedures, including the right to procreate.

    • ScottWichall

      Indeed. If you cannot afford the cost of IVF, then quite frankly, you cannot afford to raise a child anyway and you shouldn’t be breeding and expecting everyone else to pay for it.

      • Mc

        People believe it’s their human right to breed and for others to foot the bill. For example, why exactly should anyone be paid any sort of child benefit?

        • red2black

          So the nation isn’t infested with more of the square-jawed cretins and chinless half-wits that populate the upper class?

  • Terry Field

    The NHS is a grotesque, and literally murderous absurdity; an anachronism and a model avoided by every other serious advanced society. Soviet-type control of supply and absurdly constricted finance makes the system totally inadequate.
    I put this to a SERVING Labour Minister of Health, in a BBC ‘green room, whilst not in the company of others. I pointed out the characteristics of the best systems in the world. The amoral bastard agreed, said the British NHS was inherently a bad model, but that he would not change it ‘unless I mess up the changes, and then the Tories will get in’.
    So Blair piles in many more billions, most of which went to salaries and pension liabilities, and the structure remains utterly insane.
    Then NICE says drugs other countries offer routinely cannot be ‘afforded’ whatever ‘afforded’ means. Nothing could be ‘afforded’ in Soviet Russia. Why? because the system was utterly, ruinously insane.
    As is that of the NHS.
    The Labour party is a mountain of hypocritical garbage.
    It is an irrelevance, it damages the very people it lies about protecting and representing.
    If it disappears into pathetic sectarian irrelevance, that will be a wonderful present for the better governance of poor, abused, lied to, patronised, let-down Britain.
    Then, let’s move on to the socially destructive British education system. Another disaster created by the repulsive Labour bigots.

  • badu

    The argument you’re making about the NHS is really about medicine. Whether you privatize it or not, medicine is still a monopoly.

  • Isn’t being an islamophobe enough for Douglas Murray? Trying to nationalise the right wing’s anti-NHS ideology isn’t really his thing.

  • mikewaller

    The article is an unmitigated load of crap! Not having to worry about the direct costs of illness is one of the greatest joys of living in this country. All the advice given by the doctors identified above seems to me entirely sound medically, including that of removing a child from parents incapable of giving up chain-smoking. God help us if this libertarian bullshit every takes hold in the wider population. Regrettably it will, however, achieve its immediate objective: Murray keeping in with his paymasters.

  • Cymrugel

    I think you are being a little silly here Douglas.

    Yes there are a lot of bossy people about, but it should hardly be a surprise that the nations health service is proffering unsolicited advice on – er – health. It’s their job after all.

    The simple fact is that most of us do silly unhealthy things ; we are too fat, drink or eat too much, take too little exercise, take little care of our health in a variety of ways. It is surely the job of NHS spokesmen to call us out on this and warn of the possible consequences.

    Obviously they can’t make us all be teetotal non smoking vegans, but they have a duty to keep banging on as much as they can. They also need to highlight issues like waiting too long to have a child. Too often people think that they are the “special case” that will defy biological reality and then get a rude shock when they discover that this is not so.

    As for the NHS being a “religion” ; well this is just right wing claptrap – it isn’t a religion, it’s a very important national institution that has improved the quality of life for the whole nation immeasurably.

    You are quite a young man and a wealthy one by most people’s standards, so your “opt in” system might seem superficially attractive, but quite frankly you don’t know what you are blathering on about. Your thinking is selfish and lazy; the type of thing I’d expect from some of your self-absorbed, red-faced, beefy-bummed colleagues, but not from you.

    Having just undergone a long and deeply unpleasant course of chemotherapy for a cancer found purely by chance thanks to a sharp-eyed doctor during a routine check-up, which has undoubtedly saved my life, I cannot understand a silly and irresponsible attitude like the one in this article.

    It is the product of someone who has enjoyed unbroken good health thus far and who assumes he will have access to the best possible care if anything goes wrong, and that he will have the ability to pay.

    I’m alright jack in 1500 words or less.

  • Mr_Twister

    Douglas (voice of reason) Murray Strikes again.

  • AlbertaMale

    In Canada we have a single-payer system but we avoid this kind of institutional overbearance by devolving the system to the provinces. That way each province has its own technical authority but the beast never gets to wield the social authority at the national level that Murray describes.

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