March 2023
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Our obese NHS needs to go on a diet

We’re constantly told that the NHS needs more and more of our money. Just before the 2015 election, the head of the NHS (IMHO) effectively ‘blackmailed’ our politicians by claiming that the NHS needed another £8bn. Our would-be PMs knew that any refusal to hand over the cash would be electorally disastrous.

One of the reasons we’re always given for the NHS’s insatiable appetite for our money is an ageing population. That may be true. But, on the other hand older people are much healthier now than they were even 20 years ago. Another reason, which we’re never given because of political correctness, is immigration – the 46,000 people who flood into Britain every month. They certainly don’t come here for the weather and they love our NHS.

The NHS gets more money every single year (click on charts to see more clearly)

healthcare spending

But where does all this money go? Certainly not on hospital beds. The number of hospital beds has been dropping like a stone:


And we now have almost the lowest number of hospital beds per 100,000 of population of any advanced country:


Interestingly, while telling us they need more money because of an ageing population, NHS bosses claim they need fewer beds because ‘bed numbers have fallen because people are being treated much more quickly – spending less time in hospital – and for many conditions medical advances mean they do not need to go to hospital at all’. Unfortunately, the spokesman didn’t explain why, if treating many conditions was cheaper, the NHS had to have ever more of our money year after year.

I have a few ideas about where our money is going. Firstly there was about £6bn wasted on the Connecting for Health computer system. In my 2006 book PLUNDERING THE PUBLIC SECTOR I spent two chapters explaining why the system would never work and should be scrapped. At the time I was lambasted by the head of the National Audit Office, Sir John ‘Junket’ Bourne. About 6 years and £6bn later the system was finally and deservedly scrapped.

Then there are managers. There were 25,000 NHS managers in 2000 when New Labour began its big spending spree with borrowed money. Under the financially-incontinent Brown and Balls this shot up to 43,000. It has now dropped to 37,000 but is still 50% above the level of 15 years ago. In addition, average salaries for these many managers have more than doubled in the last 15 years since 2000.

Plus there was the catastrophic deal done by New Labour with GPs whereby, GP earnings shot up from around £65,000 a year to over £100,000 a year while also allowing GPs to drop evening and weekend work.

And we had better not forget all the laughable new regulators set up by Blundering Brown and Buffoon Balls:

New Labour set up at least one new healthcare regulator each year it was in power, though 2004 was a bumper year with no fewer than three new regulators being imposed on us.

In 2001, we got the National Patient Safety Agency – about £30 million a year and over three hundred staff. In 2002, there was the Nursing and Midwifery Council – about £24 million a year and two hundred and forty plus staff. In 2002 we also were given the NHS Confederation – £26.5 million a year. In 2003 the Health Protection Agency began work – £250 million a year and over three thousand staff. In the same year there was the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency – £80 million budget and eighty staff. In 2004 our healthcare bureaucrats hit the jackpot. In January, Monitor appeared on the scene – over £13 million a year. There was also the Healthcare Commission – £80 million a year and over five hundred staff. And not to forget the Commission for Social Care Inspection – £164 million and 2,335 staff.

I could go on. There are still a few more to come. But you probably get the picture by now. All these new bodies were apparently Blair’s and Brown’s way of fulfilling the pledge given in New Labour’s 1997 election manifesto, ‘the key is to root out unnecessary administrative cost and to spend money on the right things – frontline care’.

And finally, we must give credit to former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley whose ludicrous reorganisation of the NHS – described by one colleague as ‘incomprehensible gobbledigook’ – wasted billions and made many NHS managers very rich indeed as they pocketed hundreds of thousands of pounds each when their jobs were scrapped, only to start work again the next day in a new position doing exactly what they did before.

Looking at what had actually happened, one commentator recently remarked, ‘of all the billions poured into the NHS, it is just sickening to see how much of it has been soaked up by this ever-expanding bureaucracy’.

1 comment to Our obese NHS needs to go on a diet


    Another well researched article. Just looking on google ratio of hospital beds to patients. One chart graphic might be one showing decreasing beds and increasing hospital managers . As the NHS has a proliferating parasite infection diverting resources from patient care. The slogan should be

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