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A few facts to throw into the fury about our “collapsing NHS”

A couple of days ago, newspaper headlines were screaming about hospital nurses having to look after 8 patients each. Then we were told that in some areas of the country, nurses were having to look after 250,000 patients as there were no GPs on weekend duty. Clearly our journalists and politicians are all enjoying getting hot under the collar about the “great NHS disaster”. I don’t want to be a party-pooper, but here are a few facts – not the usual biased fact-free opinions.

Firstly, the NHS budget. This has shot up from around £40.5bn when New Labour took over in 1997 to over £105bn now. If you knock off the effects of inflation but include the cost of Gordon Brown’s disastrously over-expensive PFI hospitals, then the NHS budget has doubled in real terms in 15 years.

Secondly, staff levels. During the last 10 years there has been a massive increase in the numbers of NHS staff (I only have the figures for England and Wales up to end 2011, but they won’t have changed much since then. Click on picture to see it more clearly)

Woops. There are loads more doctors, nurses, technical support staff, administrators and, of course, managers. So, how the NHS can suddenly be short-staffed defeats me.

However, there are some factors which might be causing problems, in spite of there being so much more money and so many more staff than 10 to 15 years ago. For example:

1. The arrival of perhaps 5 million immigrants, many of whom may speak little English, will inevitably put a strain on services

2. Of the NHS’s 168 trusts, 22 controlling 60 hospitals are going rapidly bankrupt because they have been lumbered with huge expenses following dreadful PFI deals forced on them by Gordon Brown who wanted to build new hospitals without it looking like he was spending taxpayers’ money

3. The awful new contract New Labour offered GPs and hospital doctors gave them huge pay rises for working less hours. Duh!

4. The EU Working Time Directive has slashed the number of hours junior hospital doctors can work

5. About £12.75bn has been wasted on the worthless NHS IT system since I warned in my book PLUNDERING THE PUBLIC SECTOR in 2007 that the whole thing would be a costly disaster

6. Since 1997, average salaries for hospital chief executives have tripled (from about £80,000 in 1997 to around £240,000 now) and salaries for managers have doubled. That inevitably reduces the amount of money for frontline care

Some “experts”, usually when arguing for ever more money to poured into the black hole that is the NHS, also claim that an ageing and increasingly obese population is further straining the NHS. But they fail to mention that new, more effective drugs and techniques such as keyhole surgery are decreasing costs.

In my new book GREED UNLIMITED there’s a chapter called Is the NHS clinically obese? This argues that the NHS’s real problems have little to do with a lack of resources – financial or human – and have everything to do with political blundering and managerial incompetence.

I hope this helps throw some light onto the furious and biased arguments that we’ll all be exposed to by the media, politicians and self-proclaimed “experts” over the coming months and years.

2 comments to A few facts to throw into the fury about our “collapsing NHS”

  • Paris Claims

    i think I read somewhere that the NHS was the third (or possibly 4th) biggest employer on earth. The Chinese red army and the Indian Railway network employed more. As we’re not the unhealthiest nation on the planet, nor do we live till 200, it would appear that there’s room for improvement.

  • The NHS has been getting privatised since 1988 this is when the Adam Smith Institute wrote a book called ‘Health of Nations’, Andrew Lansley also gave a speech to the NHS in 2005, in which every aspect of the privatisation is laid out as described in the book.
    http://www.andrewlansley.co.uk/newsevent.php?newseventid=21
    There is also this report; http://youtu.be/OkTnCtg_Omk from Lucy Reynolds explaining the whole privatisation and Labours part in it! Appears we are 80% through the whole program?

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