Health, statistics and Labour lies

Labour hit a new low in its presentation of figures in its dossier on the NHS. It is common and acceptable for parties to highlight accurate figures that most serve their case, but not acceptable to get figures deliberately wrong. The Conservatives have already highlighted Labour’s  mistake over numbers of medical staff. The numbers have gone up since 2010, whereas Labour said they had gone down.

Worse still is Labour’s continuing abuse of the percentage of national income figures supplied in the Red Book for total state spending in 2020.  This is forecast at  35%, after five more years of modest cash increases in total state spending and the economy growing faster than the public sector.

In their health brief Labour argue that the Conservatives wish to cut state spending “to levels in countries where up to half their health service is privately funded. ” They cite Mexico and Korea as two such examples. They then argue that this proves the Conservatives must have plans to privatise parts of the NHS and by implication people will have to pay for their health care.

The figures are wrong. They later have a table showing that Mexico has state spending at 27% of GDP, not 35%, and Korea at 20.6%. It is clearly not the government or Conservative plan to get UK state spending down to Korean or Mexican levels, not even as a percentage of their respective economies, let alone in real terms, as the published figures show. The Conservatives plan a much larger state sector than Korea or Mexico. They also ignore the fact that the UK is a lot richer than these two c0untries, so 35% of our GDP is worth more than 35% of their GDP. UK GDP per head of nearly $40,000 is  50% above South Korea and 3.6 times Mexico’s. So even if these two countries were at 35% of state spending to GDP, they would be able to afford a lot less healthcare.

The whole lie that Conservatives want to take state spending back to 1930s levels is bizarre. The UK is a much richer country than it was in the 1930s, so 35% of our national income now will buy us a lot more state service than it bought us then.

I was interested to see that Labour’s press release said at the bottom “Designed and built by Bluestate Digital. Hosted by Tumblr, 35 E 21st Street, 10th Floor, New York City, 10010 USA”.  Such is Labour’s confidence in our country and contribution to our economic success.

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78 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Jeremy Hunt yesterday seemed to think that the NHS is the most efficient in the world and its A&E has the best waiting times of all the countries that measure them. He is clearly living in cloud cuckoo land. I have never had to wait more that a few minutes at any casualty outside the UK, nor more than ten for an ambulance to arrive. Three + hours in the UK seems to be almost standard now. Of course the work still needs to be done so the three hours is there just to deter patients coming. They need this as the GPs also make it hard to get seen as a matter of policy. This is just how they ration care in the absence or charging – it clearly must be costing many lives and huge distress and inconvenience.

    The Conservatives plan a much larger state sector than Korea or Mexico – Why do they plan this? Especially when so much of the government spending is clearly wasted, pointless or actually actively damaging. Things like all the green crap, the EU, many quangos, over payment that augment the feckless, some whole departments and HS2 are clearly economically complete and utter nonsense. The state schools and heath cover are rather poor and in part damaging political, green crap, (and religious) indoctrination.

    GDP in purchasing power parity for South Korea (which is what matters to most people) is only about 10% below the UK and doubtless they will overtake the UK very soon, with only 20.6% of it being government they have it about right. Korea’s growth over the last 13 years is about three times that of the UK’s growth so they will overtake the UK very soon I would have thought.

    UK government spending is at circa 45% of GDP most of it is wasted and much if borrowed. The state sector is 50% over remunerated and worse still the state misdirects so much of the private sector with its daft regulations, the green crap, silly employment laws, planning laws, absurdly complex tax laws, a very poor slow and over priced legal system, OTT building regulations, OTT Heath and Safety, endless tax experts and entirely artificial pointless industries …… the result is a very small proportion of workers and actually doing much that is productive in real terms. Company director are constantly distracted from running their companies by all this misguided regulation & nonsense.

    Soon the daft new government enforced pensions come in. In effect they are yet another new tax and inconvenience/distraction to the productive. Pushing down productivity and pushing more companies and jobs overseas.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 7, 2015 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      Having huge waiting times at A&E can actually cost the NHS more as you need more space and people for the waiting “customers”, you have to treat them after the wait anyway and some conditions may well deteriorate during the wait.

      It can only save money by acting as a deterrent for some users, which of course might well be a cause additional deaths or delays in treatment. Or they just end up at their GPs and it costs anyway.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted January 7, 2015 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

        When you have far too few beds to admit people into then the most visible symptom is queues at A & E.

        The number of hospital beds per head of population we have is very low, and has been decreased not just by the politicians of all parties but also with the support of the dozy medical profession which should have known better.

        • alan jutson
          Posted January 8, 2015 at 12:23 am | Permalink

          Iain

          Agree with you about bed numbers.

          The reason why people wait on trollies after being admitted is because of not enough beds.

          Bed occupancy in many hospitals runs at about 95% plus, leaving little slack to take up the strain.

          The fact that we have what is almost hot bedding does not help keep infections at bay either, no matter how well they are wiped down between patients.

          Politicians and m,angers think that a high percentage bed occupancy means it shows great efficiency, when actually nothing could be further from the truth, as many qualified staff spend a huge amount of time searching for vacant beds.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted January 9, 2015 at 9:18 am | Permalink

            Indeed operating efficiently may well demand more beds. Certainly getting rid of free at the point of use would clearly help get some real fair competition going.

      • JoeSoap
        Posted January 7, 2015 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        Back to back news on TV in Oxfordshire last night:

        “Many hospitals above waiting time maxima due to lack of beds”

        ” Three times a many gastric bands fitted last year as the year before in Oxfordshire under the NHS”

        You’d think they’d realise.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted January 8, 2015 at 11:03 am | Permalink

          Perhaps people should pay for their own gastric bands perhaps on a loan basis. As they will clearly save money on food purchases afterwards. Then again they could just eat more sensibly, save straight away and not have the rather dangerous operation.

      • Richard1
        Posted January 7, 2015 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

        I agree the waiting times are the inevitable rationing as a result of which a queue forms in a system where because its free there is unlimited demand.

  2. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    I’d say that cutting public spending to only 27% of GDP would be cutting it a bit too far, maybe we could just about manage to maintain a stable, ordered and civilised, modern and therefore complex, society with the state only involved to the extent of 30% of the economy. I certainly don’t think it needs to be as high as 50% or even 40%, and one problem is that the higher it gets the more the economy becomes dependent on the quality of the politicians controlling the public sector, which as we know is variable to say the least. However I expect others would disagree.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 7, 2015 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      30% is plenty but 20% would be far better. The productivity changes in manufacturing, electronics and countless other industries over the last few year is huge. The state sector now costs hugely more and yet delivers so little of much real value at all.

      Much of what the UK government does deliver is positively damaging to the economy and the voters. Expensive energy, HS2, over complex tax laws, planning restrictions, daft employment laws and endless other nonsense.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 7, 2015 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

        My point is that the state sector has become much larger and far more expensive yet they deliver less & less of any real value. Whereas manufacturing or farming and most activities have become hugely cheaper and far more efficient.

        The answer is simply that the state grabs whatever it can as the only control over them are MPs (so very little at all). As efficiency in these other areas has created more wealth they have just grabbed most of it and largely it is wasted by them.

      • Bazman
        Posted January 7, 2015 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

        The 30% is plenty argument again from a tax exile. Ho Hum..
        What if the local or national government said that as we are only going to take 30% we will need to start charging for rubbish collections? Fly tipping would become rife as sure as night followed day. Dumping on private land being a real problem. The government defends this by saying that it is not their rubbish or their land so is not their problem. You need to take out your own prosecutions and deterrents. The police say as you would agree they are not putting valuable resources into chasing fly tippers instead of murders and other ‘real criminals’. Meanwhile the cost of the fly tipping is becoming more of a strain on the public purse than free collections not to mention a public health hazard.
        This is an easy one that effects most people and in in particular the private landowner and landlord. Unlike the NHS you cannot be unaffected by it and blame the problem on the person using the service as you do with the NHS by making the poor pay or at least having ideas of this. They would be up in arms demanding that free collections are restarted no matter how much the cost. The cost taken from another area of the 30% they see as less important which would be anything that does not effect them. More being spent on enforcement would not be enough, count on it. Though enforcement of most other thing is seen as good except speeding in cars, motorbike speeding is bad though, and tax collection to pay for rubbish collection and disposal
        Do tell us how the rubbish collection and fly tipping is operated in you secret tax haven?

    • Hope
      Posted January 7, 2015 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      Osborne has lived up to the Labour’s ideology. He and Cameron wanted to match Labour’s public spending, Osborne has matched Darling’s economic plan which he ridiculed and failed on his own plan and every target. Cameron has failed to deliver on his promises.

      Cameron deflects evey answer to the economy, he needs to take a proper look at his failings that stem from his excessive spending and give away programmes namely the Eau and overseas aid. The money could be spent here on our people. It is claimed the NHS is in crisis, a bit like the housing crisis. There is no such thing, the is an immigration crisis! Simply put, there are too many people entering this country, undesirables not being kicked out both of which cause a threat to our personal security. It also impacts on energy, water, food, public services. When will politicians wake up?

  3. Max Dunbar
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    And you can expect a barrage of even more lies from the poisonous SNP and their Green lackeys in Scotland concerning the NHS. Your propaganda will need to be better than theirs and they have had it all their own way in Scotland so far. Get your people out in the street if you can and short circuit the dregs who claim to speak for us.

  4. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    “I was interested to see that Labour’s press release said at the bottom “Designed and built by Bluestate Digital. Hosted by Tumblr, 35 E 21st Street, 10th Floor, New York City, 10010 USA”. Such is Labour’s confidence in our country and contribution to our economic success.”

    Hmmm, but it has emerged that the road in the Tory poster is not even a road in this country, the basic picture is of a German road taken by a German photographer some years ago which has been photoshopped.

    • a-tracy
      Posted January 7, 2015 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      I wonder if a British company was paid to design and deliver on that poster, they should be made to reprint for free with a British road.

    • Wonky Moral Compass
      Posted January 7, 2015 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      Yes, it was a somewhat odd choice for a final paragraph when you consider that Bluestate digital has a London office and the dominance of US companies when it comes to social media platforms.

  5. Ian wragg
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    This is par for the course as with Daves cast iron promise on the Lisbon Treaty, getting immigration down to tens of thousand and paying of the debt.
    The BBC is in Liebor election mode with blow by blow coverage of the NHS
    Not one mention of the number of foreigners clogging up the system and increasing by 1500 each week. I see Angela won’t let Dave restrict immigrant numbers. What’s this about influence from within
    The second highest net contributer and not an ounce of influence.

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 7, 2015 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Ian – Also we’re in for another banking crisis. Probably early in the next administration whoever takes power.

      London house prices now 9x salary despite years of pay freezes ? Private borrowing up ?

      Not only did the Tories fail to warn the Bank of England (who today admit that they were caught by surprise by the 2007 crash) they follow more or less the same policies as Brown of QE, low interest, house price and credit boom and bust encouraged by HTB and lending madness.

      Either they didn’t try hard enough or the BofE wasn’t listening and Mr Cameron’s inability to get through to Frau Merkel indicates the latter – perhaps a bit of both.

      Mass immigration is essential for this economic policy to work. It keeps demand for land and property high and so our country can be valued on the price of houses. In other words not a lot.

      This policy will stall as wages are depressed by oversupply of labour and when people demand more from the system than they are putting into it – especially when the next economic downturn has to cope with millions more benefit claimants.

  6. Old Albion
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    I’m glad you have focused on the NHS today. You actually mean Englands NHS, but even you, a rare politician who recognises the English democratic defecit, fail to point out the fact.
    Yesterdays news was all about missed waiting time targets. Labour would have us believe this is caused entirely by the wicked Conservatives failing to fund (Englands) NHS. Of course there is much more to it than funding.
    The Winter period always brings more patients. Improved treatments. Higher patient expectation. Abuse of the emegency care system. And of course the ‘Elephant in the room’ that neither politicians or the BBC will ever report.
    The burgeoning population of England, caused by uncontrolled immigration. Which brings immigrants into the NHS, who not only have never contributed to it. But have existing medical conditions which they then demand to have treated.

  7. DaveM
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    “1930s level of spending” is obviously going to be used as an unsubstaintiated strapline throughout Labour’s election campaign, interspersed with constant references to the enn-aitch-ess and repeated promises to spend more money without being specific about where the money is coming from (apart from taxing successful southerners to finance Scotland’s health service – a sure vote winner that one!) The problem is that the BBC will keep pushing Labour’s lies – even yesterday when people were saying they were content with the healthcare provided, the interviewers were feeding lines and trying to get people to express dissatisfaction.

    I am not a fan of the TV debate – far too American for my taste. I also think that if your policies and manifesto are sound that you don’t need to waste time focusing solely on your opponents’ weaknesses. However, given the bias of the BBC, it might be that CMD (with his talent for talking-the-talk) has the chance to swing the election by tearing Liebour and their vague, unfounded comments to shreds on live TV. Something to be optimistic about perhaps. The only worry there is that Mr Farage might be in the same debate, and despite what the EUBC might say, he’ll probably wipe the floor with the lot of them and expose CMD’s Europhilia.

  8. Richard1
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    The Labour Party has returned to its hard left union based core. Its the party of public sector union militancy and of ever expanding welfare dependency. Its leader is a pathetically inadequate potential prime minister. Labour propose that Mr Balls, principle henchman of the disastrous Gordon Brown, should return to the Treasury. Is Fred Goodwin to be reappointed CEO of RBS?! Mr Burnham, health secretary at the time of the mid Staffs tradegy, is proposed to return to that post. In the Labour Party it seems that no failure is egregious enough to merit exclusion from office. They have learnt nothing from the many failures of their 13 years in office.

    Of course their statistics on the NHS are garbage. The NHS outsources 6% of contracts to the private sector, up from 5% under Labour. Its the most centralized and nationalized health system in the world – but very far from the best. There are no mid Staffs in Sweden, or Switzerland or Singapore, where the private health sector is much larger. But no UK party, not the Conservatives, and not now it seems UKIP either, proposes to do anything to change it.

  9. alan jutson
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Perhaps you should argue a well known phrase in response John.

    Size is not important, it is what you do with it that matters.

    No matter what the percentage tax take from GDP, its how you spend it that is important.

    It does not matter if tax take from GDP was only 25%, you could still spend the same now on the NHS if you chose to do so.
    It would just mean there would be less money available for some other areas of Government spending.
    The whole thing is simply down to Government choice.

    Labours argument if taken to its logical conclusion of taxing everyone at 100% would not mean we would all be kept in paradise by the State, because no one would bother to work (why work for nothing) so no tax would be paid at all by anyone to pay for all of those so called benefits.

    Socialism simply does not work, many have tried, all have failed after any sensible length of time.
    Remember the idea of living in communes in the 60’s, many thought it would be the future, how many exist now !

    35% is a good maximum rate to aim for if we are going to talk GDP terms, indeed we managed to rule nearly half of the World with rates very much lower than that 100 years ago.

    I am getting rather fed up with this constant stream of manipulation of figures by all sides to suit their arguments, we are now at a level of blatant lies.

    Shame on those who practise it.

  10. Anonymous
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Labour also have its broadcasting wing, the BBC, working flat out on the NHS crisis in the run up to the general election.

    To go with the housing crisis, transport crisis, schools crisis…

    We’ve had five years of open door immigration policy under this government and we will be told that we are wrong to connect these issues. Perhaps. This is a bit of a risky though as it comes pretty close to insulting the intelligence to say that cramming the country with millions new people has no ill effect.

    Deviate too far from obvious reality and independently minded conservative voters (small c) will stop listening.

    As it seems that the Bank of England weren’t listening either, to Tory concerns about the debt bubble in 2007. They claim to have been caught out totally by surprise. (I wasn’t !)

    Now that the Tory party is following the same house price/credit bubble Brownian economics is it unreasonable to conclude that the Tory party – at best – didn’t put up much resistance against those policies and must share some of the responsibility for our state during and after the crash ?

    PS, It is unlikely that Mr van Leeuwen will ever vote (or has ever voted) for the English Tory party. Though the fact is that he could do so if he really wanted to without being a British citizen. This is indicative of the insane and topsy-turvy world our politicians have brought us to and why people like me want no part in our political process.

    2015 will be the last time I ever vote. A massive two fingers to Westminster.

    This is not a democracy and I refuse to be played for a fool.

  11. Matt
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    You forget John that your ideas as to what’s best for the people of the UK, whilst backed up the evidence of history and examples throughout the world, are morally outrageous to your political opponents. Almost anything is justified in seeing that their ideology is implemented instead. Surely you understand that they can’t have a little thing like the truth getting in the way of what they know in their hearts to be right.

  12. Iain Gill
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    The problem with our democracy is not that we have a bidding war between the main parties about how much money they will throw at the NHS. Or that the numbers are being lied about. It’s the fact none of the main stream politicians are prepared to be critical of the NHS and compare it to other leading developed nations. The service from the NHS is substandard in many obvious ways. Patients have no way of imposing their choice on the NHS or insisting on treatment. Clinical commissioning groups have made it clear they have no realistic prospect of commissioning anyone but the local general hospital to do their work, so a complete waste of time. The status quo and inertia is massive. There is no virtuous feedback loop where customers walking to another provider force the worst providers to fail and shut or improve. The laughable view that our doctors and nurses are all saints and angels. We are an international laughing stock, etc ed

    • Sandra Cox
      Posted January 7, 2015 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

      I do have a bit of a penchant for the odd conspiracy theory, mainly because I feel we’ve been manipulated for years by all politicians, particularly over the EU – all of which came as quite a shock as I was brought up to trust our politicians and doctors!! So, to add to the mix, I read this on a website today, and it struck a chord:

      “Does anyone else think that the current nhs ‘crisis’ is awfully convenient? We have not had a particularly cold winter so far, no flu outbreak, and yet hospitals suddenly can’t cope. One hospital said they only had seven staff on. Why?

      Before anyone starts throwing bricks I am a trained nurse and have (sadly) been both sides of the bedpan. I’ve seen first hand the core almost wilful laziness of a growing minority of staff. I’ve seen the callous way some have treated patients in pain, keenly looking to be offended so they don’t have to treat them.

      I think there is a union organised go slow in the nhs timed to the count down to the election. I think it is only going to get worse with more public sector joining in.”

  13. formula57
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Labour knows, not least from its own now well-tested experience, that “if you are going to tell a lie, tell a big one” (as Joe Goebbels used to say).

    I expect that the relationship between the numbers and ideas is too complex for an inattentive public to grasp and so Labour’s message will hit home alas, especially as your cogent refutation is unlikely to be matched by the government. That is dismaying, especially as the chief opposition spokesman is the only man in history to have privatized an NHS hospital, as we learned only from the tarnished deputy prime minister of all people.

  14. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    It is only a few years ago since I worked on A&E departments aNd medical and surgical emergency units at most of the North West hospitals. The prevailing problem then was not the amount of staff employed to execute the job , but the wait between different services to keep the line of patients flowing.The patients were seen in A&E and some either transferred to Medical or Surgical Emergency units. Here on these interim wards where the work load is very heavy, the wait to get a free bed to transfer the patients into was almost impossible. It took the patients out of the 4 hour waiting period and made the figures look good , but in fact they were stopped at this point. This problem is escalating as in any traffic jam there is a tail back and it affects the first point of contact: A&E.

  15. English Pensioner
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    One of the problems with doctor numbers is the large number of, generally female, doctors who are working part time. Female doctors are now in the majority coming out of medical schools, and perhaps something like half of them once fully qualified work part time (according to a female consultant friend). The surgery that I attend is typical. Over the past few years, two full time male doctors have retired and have now been replaced by three females each working 3 days a week. Thus ten doctor days per week is now only nine. More doctors but less hours.
    So I take all figures about the numbers of doctors and nurses with a large pinch of salt unless they are specifically defined as “full time equivalents”.
    The news today also suggests that Labour wants a “summit on the A&E crisis”. As parliament apparently has nothing to do until the General Election, why can’t this so-called summit be a proper discussion of the issues in parliament? That should be what parliament is for, to discuss and to try to find solutions to the country’s problems, not just to have a slanging match between the parties. No wonder the public get disillusioned with politics.

    • Margaret Brandreth-J
      Posted January 7, 2015 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

      The problem here is not one of choice.There are few F/T contracts available and not many staff are directly employed by the NHS. Many professionals are working on an hourly basis subcontracted to the private sector.I tried for 20 years to get F/T NHS employment after being in charge of a research unit which was sold off. It was impossible. Six years ago after 40 years serving NHS patients I managed to get 12 hrs NHS employment on a newly qualified ‘s rate. I am lucky even for this.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 8, 2015 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      Indeed if you are going to train people (at great expense) you need them mainly to work full time in order to get a decent pay back. Females are more of a problem here than males – but to the coalition Females and Males are identical by their absurd equality religion. They seem even unable to accept their different longevity and driving risks.

      This despite all the overwhelming evidence to the contrary from almost anything you choose to measure.

  16. Kenneth
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    What is wrong with reducing the state sector? Below 25% is still too high in my opinion.

    Instead of playing the Labour/BBC game of outbidding how much taxpayer’s money can be spent, the Conservatives should be pointing out how damaging current public spending levels are, especially to those who are already earning very little.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 7, 2015 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      Indeed but Cameron types rarely dare to make the moral case for leaving money with the tax payers and the businesses who earn it and would spend or invest it so much better on average than governments.

      Cameron types just make 299+ tax increases while still claiming to be “a low tax conservative at heart”.

      “If I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government.”

      Milton Friedman

    • Feodor
      Posted January 7, 2015 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      ‘…the Conservatives should be pointing out how damaging current public spending levels are, especially to those who are already earning very little.’

      I can see the poster now: ‘You know those tax credits you receive’, it will read, ‘they make you poorer!’

      Free-market dogma: where critical thinking and common sense go to die.

  17. bluedog
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Oh dear, Dr JR, it seems that the Democrats have landed, complete with their methods. One would not be surprised to learn that Hilary Clinton uses Bluestate Digital in NYC. We can be confident that the Conservatives will not be using the sister company, RedState Digital of Austin, Texas, if such a thing exists. Indeed, as the election approaches one can imagine that Cameron feels a sense of betrayal as Obama’s love is redirected to his ideological home on the Left. Those shared selfies, it was all just a holiday romance.

  18. agricola
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    We are in a four month run up to a general election, it will be a dirty one, get used to it.

    Privatisation in relation to the NHS is a much abused word open to differing interpretations. The first is that it means that prior to treatment people will have to produce a credit card or cash to pay for it directly. This is the interpretation that Labour and other unscrupulous elements would wish the population to believe. I have seen no evidence that any political party in the UK would wish to go down that road.

    Privatisation can also mean that private none government resources are used by the NHS to provide services to patients. All the bandages, scalpels, bedpans, MRI scanners come from commercial companies not run by the NHS. The contractual time of consultants can vary from full time employment to part time employment. When not working for the NHS they are free to work in the private sector. The NHS often contracts with consultants for some of their private working time to do work for the NHS in either NHS hospitals or private hospitals. My ex secretary currently has appointments in a private hospital with a consultant all free to her at the point of delivery. I think it is all about using what resources are available as efficiently as possible. Dishonest politicians might call this privatisation for their own political purposes. Nothing could be further from the truth but they still don’t hesitate.

    I can see no logical reason not to include some complete privately run hospitals in the category of services contracted with by the NHS. If they can offer a cheaper but better service than their wholly owned NHS counterparts why not. This is not privatisation as some politicians would have you believe because it would be free at the point of use to the patient. As it has to please the patient to survive just like your local supermarket, it is likely to be cleaner, more efficient, and could cost you the tax payer less at the end of the day.

    That there is a crisis in the NHS I do not doubt, but get the impression that this is more about good management and use of resources than lack of funding. They may make themselves short of money because of the way they do things so they need to tackle it from a management angle.

    Why cannot these multi doctored modern GP practices run a 24hour 7 day service., dividing themselves between routine appointments, emergencies, home visits, and a bit of work in the local hospital. This might take a load off A&E at hospitals. Then there are all the post hospital services that seem to be lacking with tales of elderly people bed blocking which screws up admissions. Why not in hospitals conduct day patient work round the clock if the demand is there. Only the people in the system know what can be done, so take a lesson from Toyota on efficient working.

    Finally I would suggest that the whole purchasing organisation for the NHS could benefit financially from a big re-think by commercial talent from outside. Do they have international purchasing expertise for instance.

    The NHS is not a political football. It is a service for the people paid for by the people. It can do the morale of the operative end no good when constantly being kicked between warring parties.

  19. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Politicians have for too long tried to use the NHS to gain political advantage. In the process, they have portrayed a false notion of what the NHS can be expected to deliver and how much it costs the taxpayers. A myth has been created. Is it any wonder that the original architects of the NHS have been shown to be so spectacularly wrong in thinking that in time the demand on the service would reduce, due to a healthier population?
    Yesterday, I heard the Minister for Health, Norman Lamb, trot out the predictable response that the government had recently given another £700m to A&E in England. No one thought to ask him how that money would be used and what the benefits would be. I am pretty sure that he wouldn’t have had any idea if they had.
    More money must be good in the world of political NHS spin.
    As for “The whole lie that Conservatives want to take state spending back to 1930s levels is bizarre.” – is it any worse than Osborne’s dossier on Labour’s election pledges produced this week?
    The week so far has shown quite clearly that none of the current main parties in Westminster is worthy of support.

  20. Timaction
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I really don’t care about the Punch and Judy politics of Labour and Conservative which is a distraction from the true major issues facing this Country. Its a contrived attempt which we will see for the next four months to pretend to have influence over competencies long given up to the supranational body, the EU dictatorship.
    The A&E crisis is a cover up for the services that are now reaching crisis point through mass migration. People can’t get timely appointments at their Doctors. I was recently told I’d have to wait a week to see a Doctor to prescribe anti-biotics for a simple condition that may or may not have gone by the time I could see a Doctor! Months for others.
    Therefore people go to A&E. Illegal immigrants also attend for no questions asked medical care at British taxpayers expense. Only in Britain is this acceptable. Brits going abroad have to get insurance cover yet the legacy parties think its ok to tax us to give away those essential services to the world! Why aren’t visas issued only when proof of health insurance is proven? Recharge to other EU Countries? All to difficult for the EU phile Parties.
    I see our Chancellor is here today to tell Mr Cameron that there is no renegotiation of free movement. How he could spin it to the contrary or kick it into the long grass before claiming we’ll have a renegotiation on unknown issues before a referendum at some point many years from now…….until after the election when changing circumstances won’t allow it!

  21. Findia Group
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing!

  22. sjb
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    JR wrote: UK GDP per head of nearly $40,000 is 50% above South Korea […]

    That didn’t seem right so I checked the CIA Factbook: UK GDP per capita at $37,000; South Korea at $33,200.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 7, 2015 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      That is probably measured in purchasing power parity.

      Anyway they will surely over take the UK quite soon either way certainly under Miliband or Cameron’s direction anyway.

  23. ROJ
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    This nonsense about “back to the 1930s” came first from a soundbite in the report on the Autumn Statement from the allegedly independent Office of Budget Responsibility. One would hope that after the election the Chair, Robert Chote (one-time Chair of Cambridge Student Liberal Democrats) will move on to other things

  24. agricola
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Face it John, the Labour party have nothing to sell the UK electorate and therefore with Goebbelisian logic they will invent emotive none subjects, adjusting the flavour to their own taste, and then keep repeating them until they contain their own false truth. You need to go for their jugular and ridicule them. Ridicule is better than denial.

  25. Beecee
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    As there is another Brian posting on the site I shall forgo the use of Bryan.

    The 1930’s comparison came from the BBC political editor after the Autumn Statement and it is now being used to hammer Bro Cameron.

    Ed Miliband and his cohorts know it is untrue but are quite happy to ‘lie’ in order to scare the public. After all, it was on the BBC so it must be true.

    Similar with the NHS.

    The tactic is straightforward and successful – het the voters to think that there is no smoke without fire.

    Mr Cameron needs a street fighter to combat this. Does he have one?

  26. Cliff. Wokingham
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    John,

    I have a fear that people, in general, are going to be thoroughly fed up with politics and politicians by the time the election is upon us. If we continue to see the American style negative campaigning by the main parties, people just switch off. I am a keen follower of politics, but I am already starting to feel annoyed by the Pantomime style campaigning and there is still Four months to go!

    The NHS is a very emotive topic and for some reason, people still trust Labour on this issue. If we must stay in negative campaigning mode, I suggest we should keep on about Labour’s PFI policy and how much damage that did to the NHS; it almost bankrupted the trust I worked for and tied that trust up to private cleaning, catering, security and maintainance contracts with the PFI provider.

    Staffing figures are easily distorted; when I retired (2004), I was replaced by two nurses, who each worked sixteen hours a week whereas, I worked Thirty-seven and a half hours a week. Fact one; the number of nurses were doubled, just as Labour used to boast however, Fact Two; the actual number of nursing hours were therefore cut by Five and a half hours and that doesn’t even take into account hours lost by additional hand overs at the start and end of shifts.

    We need to get our message across that it is not how much money is spent which is important but, how that money is spent which matters.

    I heard the chancellor say that he wanted to see savings passed on to consumers as a result of the drop in oil prices…..Given that so much of the cost is tax, will he reduce that tax or will the fall actually be very little as a percentage of the overall cost?

    Finally John, you say we are a far richer country now that back in the 1930s……Is that really true? If we have to borrow money to just function as a nation and we are up to our necks in debt, is it true to say we are rich or are we just deluded? Is our country living on pay day loans in effect?

    • waramess
      Posted January 7, 2015 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      You are absolutely right and it is quite disturbing to see grown men cry.

      A crisp denial and a positive response is all that is necessary if we are all to retain the will to live until May 2015

    • turbo terrier
      Posted January 7, 2015 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      bang on Cliff it is how the money is spent.

      More money is not the panacea of all that plagues the NHS.

      To my mind they can throw money at it all day long and still it will not be enough as it is being run at the present moment.

      Doctors are working in their practice for 3 days a week and then go out and work a 12 hour shift in the A&E and get paid thousands.

      In Spain in the village I lived in there was a ambulance and paramedic at the village hall and before anyone went to hospital they visited him and his high tech vehicle. Any doubts local doctor straight in, then if things were diagnosed to be serious off to the main hospital. It sorted out the time wasters with hangovers and sprained ankles.

      As you well know the clue is in the name: Accident and Emergency.

      • cliff. Wokingham.
        Posted January 8, 2015 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        TT,

        I have also mooted on other NHS related threads on John’s Blog that we do need a grown up debate, without the politics, to decide what we actually want and expect from the NHS;
        What treatments and proceedures should we fund? Should we fund, for example, IVF? Gender reassignment ops? Obesity surgery? Smoking/drinking/overweight treatments? Should those that play dangerous sports have additional insurance? Should we be more proactive in our approach to health and healthcare?
        These and many other questions need to be asked and discussed calmly and rationally, if we are to keep an NHS service which we can all use and be proud of. The NHS of today is completely different to the one we started of with in the late 1940s and we have all become to expect it to be all things to all people.

  27. Paul Cohen
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Labour seek the high ground by churning out cynical “facts”. Notice that any reference to the NHS” is now prefixed “Our” NHS.

    They allowed uncontrolled immigration as a vote rigging ploy, with no concern to the knock on effect to the public services and quality of life to the then population.

    The possibility of Milliband, Balls and Burnham taking over the reins frightens me.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 8, 2015 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      True but Cameron is so little better than Labour, he is virtually the same but can eat a bacon sandwiches better.

  28. William Gruff
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    The UK is a much richer country than it was in the 1930s, so 35% of our national income now will buy us a lot more state service than it bought us then.

    If by ‘a lot more state service’ you mean far too much overbearing, overstaffed, incompetent, ‘devoid of any obvious public service ethos’ government interference in the lives of the people I would agree. I would point out though that the pound is now worth considerably less than it was in the 1930s, that wages and prices were very much lower then, that the state employed considerably fewer servants and the ‘United’ Kingdom was ranked rather higher in the global economic league than it is now, with a very much smaller national debt, making comparative claims of relative wealth contentious.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 7, 2015 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      Indeed also the state sector was not then 50% over remunerated, relative to the private sector.

      When I hear the phase “public services” I tend to think of box junction mugging cameras, bin fines, A&E wait of 4+ hours, pointless grants for expensive wind energy and PV and late filing penalties for almost everything.

  29. Demetrius
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    What is happening is a complex problem with multiple factors, critically it is about beds available. We are not helped by politicians reducing the issues to easy sound bites for simple media slots. I have had grim experiences of the NHS in the past so in fact there is not a lot that is new here. What is certain is that a winter high point now reaches levels that are very difficult to deal with. One of the curiosities is that now most of our young people go into higher education why we now rely so heavily on recruiting abroad.

  30. fedupsouthener
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Until we control immigration and people flouting the use of our NHS services we will not be able to get the problem of overload solved. Doesn’t matter how much money you throw at the system, more and more people are using it and many are in such low paid jobs that they do not really contribute to the costs. How many immigrants are working illegally and not paying anything? Also the number of people using A&E as a quick route to treatment must be stopped. Anyone who is not a real emergency should be turned away.

  31. Morris Marina 1.3
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    The trouble is the Conservatives of late have become equally skilled as Labour at the art of deceit and spin..so it’s a bit rich for them to start calling Labour out about telling the odd porkie.
    David Cameron with his ‘we are paying down the debt’ quip is an outstanding example.

    • Bob
      Posted January 7, 2015 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      @Morris Marina 1.3

      “David Cameron with his ‘we are paying down the debt’ quip is an outstanding example.”

      Can you explain why your leader felt the need to tell such a big lie Mr Redwood?

  32. Gina Dean
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    I must praise the NHS, my husband has had excellent service from specialist in our hospitals over the last 5 years. As for our GP surgery I cannot fault them. They see him regularly and phone to our home with results of tests. We do live in a rural area which could explain things and are fortunate to have cottage hospitals around us, which we use for outpatient appointments.
    All we seem to hear though is moans and groans about it. If people where charged for missed appointments it might go along way to encourage them to use it properly and appreciate it more.
    in the paper recently it was said that a family had made 650 calls in 1 year to the ambulance service surely they should have been black listed for misuse of services.

  33. a-tracy
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Do you know how much the English (as we just seem to be talking about the English NHS now) pay for private medical insurance, private dental and private operations? Is this figure added on to health spending when compared to other Countries who don’t have an NHS?

    • Iain Gill
      Posted January 7, 2015 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      Add in all the folk who go abroad to get treatment they cannot get here too

      • a-tracy
        Posted January 8, 2015 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        Exactly Iain, something isn’t adding up as a Country we spend a fortune on healthcare, statistics can be made to show anything, I’m always curious when comparing Health services in England, France and Germany for example, do the Germans and French add up all their Optometrist charges, Podiatry, Prescriptions, Physiotherapy, Chiropractors etc. all of the services that are not routinely covered by the National health service.

  34. JoolsB
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    I notice Cameron still has a problem saying the word England when referring to the NHS except of course when he’s forced to in order to mention NHS Wales.

    When can we expect to see the white paper on English votes for English laws going before the house John?

    • JoolsB
      Posted January 8, 2015 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      I was hoping you would answer this question John.

  35. Feodor
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    “The whole lie that Conservatives want to take state spending back to 1930s levels is bizarre. The UK is a much richer country than it was in the 1930s, so 35% of our national income now will buy us a lot more state service than it bought us then.”

    Population-wise, the UK is also a much larger country now. You must take that into account, too. And moreover, while I doubt this was intentional, I’d be wary about claiming others have misrepresented the facts when you yourself have neglected to mention something as simple and obvious as population growth.

  36. petermartin2001
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    We can all have our own different ideas on what size government should ideally be. That’s fair enough of course. None of us are going to be in complete agreement on that.

    There does, however, seems to be general agreement though that the size of the government’s deficit is somehow related to the size of government. I’m not sure why and that’s obviously not true. Countries like Germany, Sweden and the European countries generally have bigger governments (as a percentage of GDP) than the USA. But, whereas the USA has recently run some very large government deficits (incidentally to allow their economy to recover from the GFC), the European countries have not.

    If there is a link between the level of government deficit and anything else it is with the trade deficit. These are easily verifiable facts but don’t seem to be mentioned by politicans or the MSM. Consequently the whole framework for public discussion, which we do need to have, on spending, taxation, deficits, and size of government is skewed in the wrong direction.

  37. BobE
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    People go to A&E because a prescription if free and is dispensed there and then. From a GP a prescription is £8 + for each item which soon adds up. Also at an A&E there is no need to register and no questions are asked. Its obvious that’s the reason so many go there.

  38. JoeSoap
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    All the time the
    -NHS is providing fertility treatment, cosmetic operations on folk who haven’t suffered illness or injury, interpreters for any language under the sun, free healthcare for all comers
    -Welfare system is paying people not to work
    -Government-sponsored “industries” like equality, race relations, employment tribunals are in existence at all

    The state is too big.

    Period.

  39. forthurst
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    “…so 35% of our GDP is worth more than 35% of their GDP.”

    Not convinced. How far government spending goes towards the provision of services is highly dependent on the organisational capacity of those that do the spending. If a government is so stupid that it pays ten times as much for the provision of a hospital and its maintence, then our equivalent effective GPD is 3.5%. Arming the navy with an aircraft carrier without either planes or the means to launch them or a nuclear deterrent which is totally dependent on the USA, such that it is simply an extension of the US military, paid for by us, does not also yield value for money or any value at all.

    It is certainly true that A&E depts are under severe strain; what is also true is that NHS England is overstaffed by adminstrators and those whose English is dangerously deficient, and that GPs are not required to provide a comprehensive service such that A&Es are having to do their work as well.

    The Coalition government has not made major progress on dealing with the maladministrative legacy of Labour; ministers prepared to raise their heads above the parapet have been sacked, whilst our esteemed PM has been warmongering, promoting the cultural marxist agenda whilst ensuring that the influx of prospective supplicants at A&E continues to grow as fast as under Labour.

    It would be surprising if many advanced countries suffer from such low grade politicans and administrative civil servants in terms of their organisational and administrative capacity. We do not need targets for government expenditure; we need targets for providing desirable and necessary services efficiently, meaning that politics and the civil service need to cleansed of spendrift imbeciles.

  40. Jon
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    Ofcourse there needs to be some leeway in what is claimed in the lead up to a GE to allow for free debate. Labour are off the scale now and I think it could be time to give the Electoral Commission power to demand public retraction of blatant lies.

    There is a proportion of the electorate that does not have the capacity to make sensible judgements on what they are told by politicians. There protections for that in many other areas such as what the professions can and are allowed to say to their clients. Is it time that if a major claim is announced that is a lie that it can be referred and a public retraction is made. We don’t want to get silly about it so limit it to say 5 referrals or some other policy within 6 months of a GE.

  41. turbo terrier
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    The NHS as it is being run is further proof of the fact that the people in overall control have no idea how to run a business. No amount of spin can cover up that the NHS is just another form of a multi billion pound business.

    My visit to my practice nurse today bought forward the comment ” all the money being thrown at us is useless it is going to the wrong people” I wonder what she means?

    Somebody or party has got to call a halt to all this madness.

    Setting of targets mean nothing as it is just another way of playing pass the patient.

    Suffering with a long term illness I find that passing me around different departments helps them with their monthly patient quotas as when I get moved across I am removed from my main clinics list for the three or more months it takes to find out that there is nothing they can do so I go back to the start of the cycle again.

  42. Bazman
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    How much do advanced countries pay as a percentage and how much tax to fund it such as Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the like. ie middle class countries? You do not run you car into the ground and than complain that the running costs are are a bit high. Cutting in servicing to cost a fortune further down the road with the danger incurred. The modern car is a safe machine and would probably just stop, but this is no way to run it and telling the driver that his pay is cut was not a good idea. He was not icentivised one bit.

  43. REPay
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    It is a sad state of affairs when, regardless of the veracity of Labour’s statistics, the growth of the state is believed by much of the electorate to be a measure of how benign a government is. How about talking about the sustainability of the state rather than its size!

  44. Bill
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    Do we have any statistics on (1) how many immigrants are treated in the A&E departments of hospitals and (2) what percentage of doctors were trained outside the UK?

    If we knew these things we could work out whether the strain on the health service was caused by immigrants and if immigrant doctors contribute to the solution of this strain.

    My understanding is that A&E departments are under pressure because Labour negotiated a contract with GPs that cut down or cut out ‘out of hours’ cover.

  45. Richard
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood, you are right but I think all our current rulers want to take us further back than the 1930’s with :

    The destruction of our standard of living.
    By the Climate Change Act declaring to reduce by 2050 our total CO2 emissions by at least 80% relative to 1990 levels (despite an expected 50% increase in population) through the use of unreliable windmills and burning wood to generate all our power.

    The destruction of our culture and social cohesion.
    etc ed
    The destruction of our democracy.
    By allowing England to be ruled by a foreign and undemocratic power.

  46. petermartin2001
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    I’m sure there will be plenty of discussion about the NHS between now and the election. What will matter, insofar as peoples’ votes will determined by NHS issues, won’t be the figures as presented by politicians. It will be their perceptions of the state of the NHS.

    Anecdotally, I’d have to say those perceptions aren’t as good as they once were. Not from the POV of patients, nor the POV of the medical staff. Its not only about money. There’s been too many re-organisations. The staff are just getting used to one system, there’s then a change to a new system, often brought about about by a change of government with a different ideological view.

    So I would argue that whatever system is in place now should be left alone for at least the lifetime of the next parliament. If there are to be changes, they should be much less frequent than they’ve recently been and should be made only after full consultation with those who run the NHS.

  47. a-tracy
    Posted January 8, 2015 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Population growth – is this a bad thing when it comes to the NHS, we are told that most of the population growth is from workers emigrating here to work, what % of them pay enough NI to cover their and their families healthcare on the same basis they would have to pay for health cover in say Sweden? What % of them are self-employed and paying reduced national insurance as there is no employers contribution and they would then pay a reduced rate.

  48. JoeSoap
    Posted January 8, 2015 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    What a shame that Mr Cameron will no longer be on the BBC pre-election debate platform to enlighten us with these wonderful tractor-production like NHS statistics.

  49. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted January 10, 2015 at 12:14 am | Permalink

    The public expenditure and GDP stats for 2010 and 2015 are:
    Total spending 673.1/731.4 bn
    Pensions 116.4/149.7
    Health care 116.9/133.0
    Education 88.5/90.1
    Defence 42.6/45.6
    Welfare 110.7/107.8
    GDP 1458/1720

    Health care will fall from 8.0% to 7.7% of GDP. This will cause political problems.

    The component that is rocketing is public sector pensions. Can we do anything about this?

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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