December 2023
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It really is the elderly who are bankrupting the NHS

This weekend there was, I thought, a disgraceful article in the Sunday Telegraph by a Tory trougher, MP Dr Sarah Wollaston, claiming that Britain’s ageing population will bankrupt the NHS. Of course, the good lady didn’t mention the arrival of 7 to 10 million immigrants in Britain since New Labour opened the floodgates in order to ‘rub the noses’ of the middle classes in multi-culturalism.

But before lambasting the trougher for her political correctness in not mentioning ‘immigration’ I decided to check the figures. And in this case, I was surprised. The Tory trougher may have been actually telling the truth.

Between 1998/9 and 2012/3 hospital episodes rose by 48% from 11,983,893 to 17,715,046. If we break these down by age group, we find that the major increases have been in the older age groups (click to see more clearly)

hospital episodes

So, it appears our ageing population, rather than immigration, is the main cause of our collapsing NHS services.

The answer to this problem from the good Dr Wollaston is more money, more money, more money! But hold on a minute, since 1997/8, while hospital episodes have gone up by a worrying 48%, the NHS budget has shot up from £45bn to over £105bn – almost a doubling even after taking account of inflation. So, about a 100% budget increase has apparently been insufficient for our hopeless NHS to cope with a 48% rise in hospital episodes.

Moreover, Britain is slightly above the OECD average in the amount spent per capita on healthcare (click to see more clearly)

health spending

So, where has our money gone? A lot has disappeared into massive pay increases for doctors and nurses for doing ever less work. Then there has been an explosion in the number of managers – from around 25,000 in 1998/9 to over 40,000 by 2010 to around 38,000 today. Meanwhile, the number of hospital beds has collapsed from 200,000 in 1998/9 (8 beds per manager) to 140,000 today (a pathetic 3.7 beds per manager)

The NHS also wasted a massive amount of our money by blowing around £5bn on a computer system which (as I explained in detail in my 2006 book PLUNDERING THE PUBLIC SECTOR) could never work. At the time, the head of the National Audit Office, Sir John ‘Junket’ Bourne, gave me a bollocking for my ‘totally misleading analysis’, as he supported the hopeless computer system. It was abandoned in total chaos in 2011 after our £5bn had disappeared into thin air.

So, yes I have to admit that it seems to be an ageing population, rather than mass immigration, which is bankrupting our NHS. But if the NHS would waste just a little less of our money, perhaps it wouldn’t always be bleating about needing more, more, more!

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5 comments to It really is the elderly who are bankrupting the NHS

  • Paris Claims

    I think this problem was highlighted in Yes Minister a while back. Hacker was tearing his hair out because a new hospital hadn’t treated any patients, yet Sir Humphrey was quite comfortable with the state of affairs.
    The first thing to concentrate on is health tourism, followed by daft procedures like gastric bands for fat idle people, and tattoo removal etc. There’s been a lot in the papers recently about some low-life slag who has had boob ops costing thousands on the NHS. I couldn’t be bothered to get past the headlines, but she seems to be not dissimilar in outlook to White Dee.
    The NHS should go back to its origins……i.e. curing people (British people) and relieving pain.

  • Paris Claims
    Talk of the devil! In the papers again.
    Several years ago I read that the original Fabians condoned euthanasia for useless people who were a drain on society. I was genuinely shocked. Maybe they had a point?

  • Ben

    I worked on that ridiculous NHS computer system for Accenture in Leeds many years ago. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what benefits this would give the doctors and nurses over and above their current systems – and neither could anyone that I asked that question to…

  • John Fields

    I am old. I came out of hospital four weeks ago. I was in for six days to have camera put up my rear end plus a C.T. Scan. This was cancelled four times. So they sent me home to
    return as an out-patient. How much did all this wasted time cost? I have paid my dues for
    this bloody country, and it is my right to have hospital treatment when needed.

  • NG

    I wrote 2 chapters in my book PLUNDERING THE PUBLIC SECTOR exposing the NHS computer system as a waste of money 8 years ago. I even had meetings with Sir John ‘Junket’ Bourne at the National Audit Office and some MPs to explain what a disaster it would be. Naturally all my warnings were ignored, the project went ahead and was only cancelled in 2011 or 2012 after about £5bn had been wasted.

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