Labour’s health troubles

Labour’s attempt to make a crisis out of the modest slippage in the English NHS seeks to ignore the far worse performance on waiting times in the Welsh NHS which they run.

Labour of course do not describe the fact that nearly one in five people in Wales have to wait for more than the target four hours for attention in A and E as a crisis. However they do think that if one in ten have to wait more than four hours in England that constitutes a crisis. This language is designed to politicise the NHS, and makes running the English NHS a bit more difficult.

Politically it is a weird strategy. Labour wish to go through a whole UK General Election talking about the English NHS. That means they have no message for Scottish or Welsh voters at all, as they hope to avoid talking about NHS Wales which they run, and of course the SNP and the Edinburgh Parliament run NHS Scotland. They wish to highlight anything that is going wrong, inviting comparison with Wales, and with their record of running NHS England in the previous decade. It reminds us of the disasters at some hospitals, with major lapses in care standards.

A more honest approach would be to confess they have problems and a worse A and E performance in Wales, and set out how they will remedy this. It might also be wise to talk about some of the topics in the General Election which apply to all of the UK, and not just England. It is an irony that Labour do not understand their own devolution settlement and what it means for General Elections.

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101 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    Outside the UK my family have never once had to wait more than about 5-10 minutes at A&E and have always been able to get a doctors appointment the same day whenever needed. The main difference is that I had a pay a small sum each time, the doctors were therefore keen to seem me rather than keen to deter me – as so often in the UK.

    The NHS was supposed to be Cameron’s first priority “in three letters” but it has deteriorated further under the coalition (from what was already a very poor service). It is often heavily rationed and delayed at the point of need. Cameron’s EU open door & totally unselective immigration policy has put further pressure on the NHS.

    Needless to say Labour will make the most of these failures and they are probably even worse at managing it, but the Coalition has failed hugely on the NHS. The way it is structured it can never work very efficiently. Cameron has now even dropped the NHS from his six themes having failed to improve it over the last four and a half years.

    His themes for the election (economic deficit, creating jobs, lowering taxes, improving education, tackling housing shortages and helping the retired) rather miss the main concerned of the voters. Intentionally one assumes, but it will not work.

    Voters concerns surely are:- excessive & totally unselective immigration and the pressures this causes on services, a general lack of growth and productively caused main by the bloated state and daft regulations, the absurd EU relationship and damaging EU regulations, declining living standards, the Coalition’s 299+ tax increases so far, bloated and largely incompetent government, expensive religious energy, the dysfunctional NHS, the lack of any fair democratic deal for England.

    The Tories are now after all, a party of England. Voters want a real Tory party, heading towards UKIP’s position, not a Cameron led Libdem party in all but name.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    You suggest “a more honest approach” but honesty in politicians is very rare indeed.

    Cameron for example has increased taxes hugely (299+ increases) and he ratted on his £1M IHT threshold promise made at the last. Yet he still absurdly claims to be a “low tax conservative at heart”.

    Cameron is claiming he will renegotiate the EU arrangement by 2017 but he must know that nothing substantive will come of it. It is clearly a long grass con trick.

    Cameron claimed at the last election that the NHS was his first priority, but the NHS is now even worse and he has just dropped it as one of his six “themes”.

    He even ratted on his Cast Iron Lisbon promise to the people before the last election and thus threw the sitting duck election.

    Cameron is desperate to avoid any debate with Farage as he knows his past lies and failures will be exposed and that he has no sound positions that he can defend.

    Reply The NHS is better than in 2010 – remember Stafford etc?
    The Income tax threshold has been raised substantially and corporation tax rates cut
    IHT was blocked by Lib Dems – not ratting if you can’t get it through

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply

      The tax threshold has been raised for everyone who is not a higher rate tax payer. Many have been drawn into the higher rate net. Higher rate payers have been fleeced to subsidise the lower paid which includes the huge influx of cheap labour from the continent (and their associated infrastructure costs). Why not ask business to pay its own wages through increased productivity instead of importing poverty?

      • libertarian
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

        Narrow Shoulders

        Absolutely.

        A young start up entrepreneur at a meeting the other night, asked the assembled government, political and quangos touting start up “support” and “finance” Why do you take it away from us, then hand some of it back and expect us to be grateful? Of course there was no answer.

        Its a pork barrel farce

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

        Indeed. They have also taken away child benefit and personal allowance at £50K and £100K respectively as well as lowering the 40% cut in threshold.

    • Lifeligic
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      Well what Cameron should have got from the agreement with the Libdems was fair electoral boundaries and an agreement to keep to his IHT promise. He could have given Clegg a graduate tax so Clegg would not have had to rat so blatantly on his tuition fee pledge.

      After all the student loans are (in 50%+ of cases) not even repaid and those that are are very close to a graduate tax in operation anyway. A graduate tax might have been a simpler/cheaper approach administratively anyway.

      Basically Cameron did a dreadful and one way deal with the Libdems because in essence he is a Libdem. Giving them their absurd transferable vote referendum before getting anything in return. It was incompetent negotiation that will probably cost the next election just as he threw away the last one with Clegg on TV and his Lisbon ratting.

    • Jerry
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      @JR reply; But is the NHS in 2015 better than in 1997, or indeed 1979, and if so how?

      Many of the failing of Mid Stafford etc, whilst made worse by Blair’s “New Labour” years, had their conception during the Thatcher/Major years when internal markets and hoards of back-room staff [1] appeared to have become more important than the actual health care at not just Hospitals but GP’ surgeries and in the community care – Or should I say, that is the perception amongst many, something that the Tory, Labour and (indeed now) the LDs need to worry about, both UKIP and the Greens only have their manifesto pledges to defend, not actual deeds and records…

      Blair’s government could have corrected many of the (well meaning) policy errors made during the 1980s and early ’90s but chose to do the exact opposite, without actually properly understanding the long term costs!

      As for that £1M IHT threshold, John, I take it then that it will be a Tory manifesto pledge in 2015 then?…

      [1] creating much non-core administration paperwork, such as targets and other such monitoring, for no other reason than to justify their own jobs

    • Rita Webb
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      Dear Mr Logic why is IHT such a problem for you? For those of us outside of the SE, the use of the spouse’s unused nil rate band means that we usually have no liability. While I am surprised that a boulevardier and captain of industry such as yourself has not cottoned on that it is the easiest tax to avoid paying. Why do you think the rich always remain rich? All you need is a lawyer to sort out a trust, will etc and there is enough stuff on Google to see how you can use life assurance and your pension to mitigate any potential liability without paying for advice. You must have also benefited from the time you have spent out of the UK.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

        My person tax affairs are organised such that I should not have to pay IHT. I am now domiciled overseas anyway, so it would only applies to my UK assets.

        IHT is a huge incentive for the wealthy to leave the country and the rich and hard working to stay away. It is the principle that is wrong and very damaging it discourages people from working and investing and being prudent. If you have earned money and paid up to 45% on it why on earth should your beneficiaries have to pay another 40% on death. It is not just IHT either, there is also a lifetime transfer tax of 20% (on trust arrangements) and other trust taxes too.

        It is not as if the government do anything useful with the money in general.

    • Rita Webb
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      The really unjust tax is long term care. Dependent on how long you live and what level of care you need, this can mean a 100% wipe out of all your worldly goods over twenty odd thousand. This is where the real “ratting” is, ratting on those who worked for a living, obeyed the law etc.

      • Jerry
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        @Rita Webb; “The really unjust tax is long term care.”

        Oh right, but so many on the right approve of private medical care and thus the need to pay for it out of income rather than via the tax system, ho-hum… That said, I do agree with you about long term care, but taxing the dead via IHT takes some beating when it comes to being unjust, after all the wealth has already been taxed at least once and often at a rather high rate to boot!

    • Vanessa
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      Cameron just hopes we will all forget about homosexual marriage etc. and concentrate on the lies he tells about the economy – our debt is £2.98 TRILLION, up from 2010 because the deficit has not been abolished ! God knows what nasties he will dream up for the next 5(?) years if he is PM.

      He is just the same as Milipeed – they are all brilliant at lying, shame some of us have longer memories and better intellect !

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

        “longer memories and better intellect” well perhaps but no real alternatives alas that will get into power. The best we can hope for is a UKIP/ real Tory government.

        But that looks very, very unlikely thanks to Cameron’s lefty partial destruction of the party. He clearly leaned nothing from the Major & Heath disasters.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      On IHT Cameron/Osborne not only ratted on the £1M threshold they promised, but they have not even lifted the thresholds by inflation and so have actually put IHT up.

      You claim the Libdems prevented this, but did the Tories ever really try seriously to get this agreed? I rather doubt it. Surely the Libdums would have done a deal on say tuition fees so they could have kept their promise too. The fees and “loans” that are largely never to be repaid. They do not work very well anyway.

      They have not even said they will implement the threshold after the next general election on May 8th 2014! They could at the very least do that.

      Anyway it is largely irrelevant now, the chances of an overall Tory majority is about 7% unless Cameron moves his position hugely.

      Cameron could not even get fair boundaries from the Libdems. What sort of negotiation took place? Something like:- “Well Nick if you allow me be PM you can have a Libdem government in all but name”, “Agreed” deal done.

      What true Conservative policies did Cameron actually get through? I can think of virtually none – the new squatting law & closing the absurd M4 bus lane perhaps? It has been a dreadful Libdem government in all but name.

      299+ tax increases, ever more regulation, more EU, ever more government waste, more expensive green energy nonsense, hugely complex & increasing taxes, mad employment laws, billions more to the EU ……

      It is a tragedy that Cameron threw the last election through his lefty incompetence. His pro EU, “modernising” drivel, ever more EU loving and Clegg on TV. Such an open goal and an opportunity to put the county on the right path just thrown away.

      Now it seems we have to suffer Miliband it seems or some dreadful rainbow coalition. He could still win but shows no sign at all that he will grasp the nettle and turn the right way. He is in his heart and soul is just a pathetic Libdem PR spin doctor.

      Wrong on nearly every issue alas.

      Reply The Lib Dems had a deal on tuition fees. They could have abstained and disagreed, but chose not to.
      They do oppose IHT changes.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

        Then the Libdems are even more stupid than I thought they were and that was not a very high threshold.

      • Kenneth R Moore
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

        I agree with all you say Lifelogic – you have the measure of Mr Cameron.

        I’m mindfull of Peter Hitchens comments on DC back in 2011.

        Peter Hitchens – ‘I have known since I first spotted him trying to weaken the anti-drug laws that Mr Cameron was not a conservative. I have spoken to former colleagues who have concluded that he believes in nothing at all, but I think it is much worse than that. I think he is an active, militant elite liberal, who despises our country and its people, just as much as any Islington Marxist does’.

        ‘What I could never understand was how so many men and women with the usual complement of eyes, ears and brains (and nostrils) managed to fool themselves so completely about him’.

        I wonder if Mr Redwood has ever reflected upon his wisdom in supporting Mr Cameron’s leadership bid however unsavoury supporting Ex whip Mr Davis might have been.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 20, 2015 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      Any prosecutions over Stafford yet?
      Stafford is very far from the only problem NHS hospital.

  3. Roy Grainger
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    You should not however underestimate the effect of Labour scaremongering on the NHS as their single electoral strategy, in Hammersmith where I live they managed to win the last local elections by doing exactly that. Personally I might be prepared to accept the short-term pain of a 1-2 year Labour/SNP coalition for the long-term gain it might bring.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      Roy,
      What is the “the long-term gain” you envisage?

    • ChrisS
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      What “long term gain” could possibly come from entrusting the country to Miliband and Balls, two men who were deeply involved in implementing the policies that increased public expenditure to such unsustainable levels.

      We are now being told that in 1998 they knew that an economic meltdown was coming and their only solution was to call for an early election.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

        2008 I think you mean.

        About when Osborne promised the electorate £1m IHT thresholds and Brown foolishly bottled his early election in response. A shame he did not go for it and win and then we might have had a real Tory party in power by now. Rather than facing Miliband in May.

    • Jerry
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

      @Roy Grainger; “Personally I might be prepared to accept the short-term pain of a 1-2 year Labour/SNP coalition for the long-term gain it might bring.”

      Sorry but any Labour/SNP coalition (or any other combination) will be for the full 5 years, Cameron/Clegg and their Fixed Term Parliament Act has seen to that! Thus you best hope for a Labour/Green “Pact” and hope that the “Trident question” becomes pressing and even more urgent…

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted January 20, 2015 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      1) English displeasure at SNP meddling in English matters will mean the next election will be fought on English votes for English issues
      2) A Conservative loss will result in the removal of Cameron and his replacement by a new more-Eurosceptic leader willing to enter a pact with UKIP thus uniting the right.

  4. Mondeo Man
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    The more *honest* approach would be to stop blaming old people for the NHS crisis.

    Should this not constitue ‘hate’ crime ? Every bulletin mentions that “We have an ageing population” (I wish they’d make their minds up – when it comes to bulletins on schools, they are in crisis because we’re getting younger !)

    Face it. We’re getting a BIGGER population with resources spread more thinly as I keep trying to say.

    Apart from it being untrue that it is all the old’s fault (with no mention of obesity or mass immigration), at least we know that most of them have paid into the system.

    • Lifeligic
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      Exactly, if the government encourages lots of low paid workers to arrive often with families needing schools, health care and housing and yet they pay almost nothing in to the system in tax and NI. On the minimum wage (even full time) they might well pay in less than 4k PA, but require benefits of £50K + if they have a large family with significant health, education and housing needs.

      Is it any wonder the government finances are in such a mess? But Cameron will not even talk about this issue!

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

        @LL if you will quote such spurious figures the argument against immigration becomes easier to counter.

        The immigrant on minimum wage is unlikely to contribute as much 4K in taxes unless smoking drinking and driving heavily. The benefits they are entiltled to with a family are more realitically 25K with child benefit, tax credits and housing benefit. These more realistic figures are also available to indigenous claimants but at least their forefathers may have made some contributions to the country we now inhabit.

    • alan jutson
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      Mondeo Man

      Agreed the fact that the population is growing in percentage terms rather more than the NHS budget means the logical conclusion must be that it needs more money just to stand still.

      The range of treatments now is also much greater than when the NHS was originally conceived, so for that reason it also would need more money.

      Boob jobs, gastric bands, tattoo removal, in addition drunks and drug addicts taking up bed space and clogging up A&E was also never perceived originally, neither were they regarded as an illness that needed treatment.

      Many and varied high tech and expensive treatments are now also considered the norm.

      The NHS could consume the entire tax budget if we want to treat every ailment.

      The real discussion should be:

      Should there be a limit on treatment, and if so, what should that limit be.

      Should there be some sort of cost on some treatments or not, and if so, how much.

      Just for info, our family does not have private medical insurance.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

        Well they could stop quack medicine, vanity treatments and treating self inflicted health problems for a start.

      • Jerry
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

        @alan jutson; “Boob jobs, gastric bands, tattoo removal, in addition drunks and drug addicts taking up bed space and clogging up A&E was also never perceived originally, neither were they regarded as an illness that needed treatment.”

        Swings and roundabouts, whilst (with the exception of drunks) non of the above were likely perceived back in 1945 you have to off-set the reduction in industrial/social sicknesses and accidents [1], never mind the fact that for many treatments the after-care time has been cut drastically due to better treatments (some of which also cost the NHS a lot less too).

        [1] not to mention the then on-going costs of caring for the long term needs of those, both civilians and service person, who were injured during two world wars.

      • Mondeo Man
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

        Nor does my family have insurance and if we did we would have less disposable income to contribute to the ‘recovery’.

        In any case. If we are to pay insurance for healthcare might we see a reduction in our tax contributions ?

        No ? A further blow to ‘hard working families’ then.

        The CofE talks of a closure in the gap in equality – it is already here through the tax and benefit system. Still we read daily of families proudly stating that they recieve £50k a year from the state for doing nothing.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      I’ve seen obesity mentioned as well as ageing, and drunkenness as well, and I’ve also seen a spike in the birth rate mentioned. However it is very noticeable that almost of the politicians and media commentators are deliberately avoiding any mention of the effects of mass immigration, including of course its contribution to that spike in the birth rate. Basically it seems that all of the problems are down to the established population in one way or another and nothing at all to do with the impact of millions of new people being quite suddenly, and unpredictably, added to that existing population as a result of the government policy of allowing and encouraging mass immigration. A policy which they insist on pursuing, even though they know perfectly well that it is directly contrary to the wishes of a great majority of the existing body of citizens who elected them; and then they have the nerve to talk about “democracy”.

      • Jerry
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

        @Denis Cooper; “I’ve also seen a spike in the birth rate mentioned”

        Care to quantify your comments, such as how many extra birth (and thus associated costs, such as extra school places, even housing) are due to the recent wave of “mass immigration” and how many are due to the fact that the UK seems to have great difficulty [1] when it comes to educating our teenage population to, then or later, either not have sex in the first place or if they must, then to use proper birth control. I suspect that the numbers of unplanned births from within our own indigenous populations far exceed those of the recent waves of “mass immigration” and as such it has been the fault of indigenous established population!

        [1] probably the worst in Europe, and not very good even when compared to the rest of the developed world

      • Mondeo Man
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

        Denis – The issue of uncontrolled immigration is rarely included in any economic assessment and it remains a mystery to many as to how it cannot be. It has to be raised by some brave soul like myself knowing that people will roll their eyes or groan – such as Question Time panelists and audience members… and Tory politicians.

        Surely the size of the population and their ability to pay is intrinsic to every economic issue and calculation.

        My natural party of choice refuses to talk immigration so I’ve switched allegience to its competitor – and how strange that the party of free market competition should respond to its own competitors (with which it has no sound argument) with unedifying insult and smear.

        On the subject of the NHS and the damage to Labour:

        So Labour supporters are going to turn Conservative instead ? Of course not. They’ll either abstain or switch to fringe parties such as the Greens or (hopefully) Ukip.

        Keep banging away at Labour on the NHS in England, Dr Redwood.

        More recruits for Ukip.

      • Hope
        Posted January 20, 2015 at 8:46 am | Permalink

        Excellent, well said. Just like the narrative to blame it on “we are living longer”. No there are more people who are living longer because there are vastly more people through mass immigration. If the population grew as it was without mass immigrtion it would not be problem.

        • Jerry
          Posted January 20, 2015 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

          @Hope; “there are more people who are living longer because there are vastly more people through mass immigration”

          I assume that the term “The Baby Boomer Generation” has passed you by – never mind the fact that medical science has also greatly raised the life expectancy of the same generation and of their parents?!

          At a time when those self-same indigenous Baby-Boomer’s are starting to reach mature years (if not retirement) with all the aliments and disabilities that follow on from 40+ working years, when medical intervention is more likely, at the same time as the self- same generation (and their, now adult, children) expect to pay as little direct or indirect tax as possible towards the NHS but still expect the it to care for them as it cared for their grandparents generation after 1945, couple all that to the political mismanagement of the NHS – well is there any wonder why the NHS is such a mess. No need for simplistic scapegoat arguments, thanks…

          • Hope
            Posted January 20, 2015 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

            Drivel Jerry.

    • Cheshire Girl
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      I agree with that. Lets face it – how many old drunk people clog up A and E on Friday and Saturday nights! How many ‘Field Hospitals’ was it necessary to set up on New Years Eve for ‘old’ people? This all costs the taxpayer a great deal of money, as does employing people to clean up the streets at the weekend and employ extra Police to pick up drunken (mostly young) people.
      I am one of those ‘old’ people. And frankly I,m fed up with my generation being blamed for so many problems in the UK. Many of us work hard to help political parties get elected. I do wish they would ‘change the record’ sometimes !

    • peter davies
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      Its the old people that have paid all their lives. Hence the need for a compulsory insurance system going forward

  5. bluedog
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    If there is one sacred cow in the UK that is long past the prime date for its slaughter, it’s the NHS. Starting a conversation about the NHS rapidly assumes almost unmanageable levels of emotion, and any suggestion that the NHS is a grossly inefficient way of running a health service is likely to be greeted with complete incredulity. The standard pitch of the pro-NHS lobby is that ‘if we get rid of the NHS we’ll end up like America’. Would that be such a bad thing?

    Quite simply, if a service provided by a government agency is replaced by the same service provided by the private sector, all things being equal, the cost of service delivery will halve without any reduction in the quality of the service. Oh yes, but that means someone in the private sector making a profit out of people being ill. So? That’s what the drug companies do all the time, but nobody begrudges them their reward. But that’s different.

    Actually it isn’t and its time the debate moved from the emotional to the rational. There may even be votes in rationality. One way or another, the moral blackmail of the Left with regard to NHS reform is a fox that needs to be shot, to use another animal metaphor.

    • Lifeligic
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      Exactly. Anyway all the people who work for the NHS, nurses, doctors, litigation avoidance experts, endless bureaucrats and countless managers of rationing and statistics (manipulation of) ……… all profit do they not.

      What are wages if not profit from working?

    • Jerry
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      bluedog; “Quite simply, if a service provided by a government agency is replaced by the same service provided by the private sector, all things being equal, the cost of service delivery will halve without any reduction in the quality of the service.”

      A wild assumption, I suspect that the end-user costs would remain the same. But if such savings can be made then why can’t the NHS find those saving, or do more for the same?

      “Actually it isn’t and its time the debate moved from the emotional to the rational.”

      You mean, move the debate on from how many lives the NHS saves to how much it costs the average tax payer to do so…

      • bluedog
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

        ‘You mean, move the debate on from how many lives the NHS saves to how much it costs the average tax payer to do so…’

        Why not? Saving lives is the business of the NHS, so why is the quantification of that process reprehensible, which is what your comment infers?

        You miss the more important point. If the cost of service delivery is reduced within a defined health budget, the same service can be provided to a greater number of patients. Or, just imagine this, as technology continues to improve all aspects of medicine, an even better service can be provided! If Moore’s Law applies to medicine, is the NHS the right channel for implementation of its benefits?

        The tenor of your post neatly proves my point about the emotionalism of the debate.

        • Jerry
          Posted January 20, 2015 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

          @bluedog; “Why not? Saving lives is the business of the NHS, so why is the quantification of that process reprehensible, which is what your comment infers?”

          Because to do so is very close to acting as God, ask any Doctor or Nurse who does have to even now consider the “business case” rather than make decision on a purely medical need basis coupled to the “Quality of Life” question.

          Are you willing to be the person who has to tell the family that it is not “economic” to treat their nearest and dearest.

          “The tenor of your post neatly proves my point about the emotionalism of the debate.”

          Give be emotionalism over cold economics any day, what is the value of a human life by the way?…

          • bluedog
            Posted January 21, 2015 at 6:03 am | Permalink

            Good morning Dr JR. I don’t think my reply to Jerry posted last night is up to scratch. Apologies for the inconvenience, but please can you delete it. Thank you.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

        @ Jerry

        Do you know how the funding level for each hospital is arrived at including the private one that folded the other week?

        I do not but assume that if the trusts were paid according to output they would run better. I guess that each trust is awarded a grant to run on each year regardless of outcomes. Whether in the private sector or the public sector that is no way to run an organisation but a private sector organisation would not be funded that way.

        It may not need to move into the private sector the NHS may just need to be funded by results. A garage style operation where each procedure or interaction carries a fixed sum to be invoiced to government would allow much better planning and funding. The taxpayer may ultimately have to stump up more cash if more procedures are carried out but I suspect that this way the “Management” charges would reduce.

        Others above have written that we should review which procedures and self caused problems are treated without charge.

    • libertarian
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      Bluedog

      As you can tell from my username I’m in favour of small government and free markets. However privatising the NHS would not improve it one iota currently. The Mega corporations that win outsource government contracts ( won’t bother with their names to save moderating but you know who they are ) are as useless, inefficient, rude and disorganised as the centralised state monopoly.

      Its not a question of ownership its a question of structure, responsibility and control, as well as funding of course. Personally I have no problem with a public sector run hospital service ( GP’s have always been private) it just needs to be run on a smaller scale, with more local accountability and catering for local needs .

      National Insurance needs to be ring fenced for health, its then easy for us to see

      1) How much we’re paying
      2) How well it performs for the money
      3) To choose to pay more for better quality services should we wish

  6. Leslie Singleton
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    The targets are 95% of the problem. The A & E 95% in particular I find pernicious. Where is it written (worth reading) that 95% is the be all and end all? Given that targets have become not stretch goals as they should be but reasons for boneheads to throw stones, just think, if this 95% target had in fact been set at a perfectly reasonable say 90% there would have been nothing to talk about. Labour and its “weaponising” are an unmitigated disgrace. Changing gear, and having latterly worked a few years as a (privatised!) peripatetic Hospital auditor (plus a trip in an ambulance to A & E and then a month in a Heart Ward) I reckon half the management and admin types should be culled. Hospitals in recent years have changed from typically a lovely old country house and its grounds (which patients used to walk in but that’s another story) to the same house but now with a multi-storey modern (ugly) block of pen pushers and photocopyimg experts stretching to the far horizon–I never learnt what these people do but I do know that unlike in the private sector (which I have also done some auditing on, long ago) they are all desperately busy the whole time, nevertheless go home on the dot and the very idea of anything resembling a surprise visit (rather than an appointment possibly weeks ahead) would give an attack of the vapours. On the other hand, the Hospitals themselves, and indeed my GP Surgery, have always been superb.

  7. Old Albion
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    When it comes to ‘the NHS’ there is no honesty at all in Westminster (our host excepted)
    Labour/Conseravtive/Lib-dems/Green and even UKIP talk about ‘our NHS’ or ‘the NHS’ to keep up the pretence that ‘the NHS’ is one body.
    As pointed out by you today and me frequently. There is not An NHS. There are four NHS. Three have the ‘benefit’ of being governed by their own country’s Parliament or Assembly. Whereas the ENGLISH NHS is governed by the UK parliament. Therefore part of the malaise affecting the English NHS can be blamed upon non-English MP’s sticking their nose into our business while failing in their own country.
    One more reason for an English parliament.

    P.S. When the Scottish nurse Pauline Cafferkey developed Ebola. The Scottish NHS was unable to offer her the necessary treatment. So she has now been sent to England, where i believe she is now recovering well. Indeed i hope she returns to perfect health soon.
    However as she is a Scottish citizen her medical costs should be borne by the Scottish NHS, not Englands.

    • Jerry
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      @Old Albion; Do you really believe that anything would change if an “English only” parliament was created, the problem is not in whose controls the NHS is but how it is controlled (and that would still stay the same how ever the parliament is formulated) – if the UK is to carry on having an effective NHS then it needs to be funded in a way that is both ring-fenced and removed from the politicos as far as possible.

      Like it or not the NHS was politicised before it was ever created and has thus been a political weapon for all parties since before 1945, to claim that a party is or is-not using the NHS as a political weapon is using the NHS as a political weapon in its self…

  8. Ian wragg
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    This last 6 months for the first time in my life (70 years) I have attended both NHS and private hospitals. The difference is staggering. In my local NHS hospital I watched so many staff wandering round carrying files. The outpatients were treated like cattle. I came to the conclusion that a good portion of the obesity problem is employed in the NHS. Phones endlessly ringing at nursing stations whilst nurses chat
    The private hospital which did my operation was an oasis of calm and efficency in comparison
    The really eye opener was the number of foreigners in A&E who obviously shouldn’t be there

    • stred
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

      The hospitals in France, Germany, Holland, Spain and Sweden do not suffer from the administrative chaos either, as far as we have been told. No top down state commissars running theirs. The patient hold the finance and it’s free at the point of use, but after reclaiming on state subsidised insurance.

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

      Many NHS staff do private contract work.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 20, 2015 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      My personal circumstances are very different but, my observations and those closets to me are of the same.

    • Jerry
      Posted January 20, 2015 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      @Ian wragg; “The private hospital which did my operation was an oasis of calm and efficency in comparison”

      No doubt. After all they can chose who they treat (or their clients, the medical insurance companies do), whilst not having to be ready 24/7 in case of the next mass medical emergency even such as a motorway accident or train crash etc, and how many private hospitals run A&E departments in any case where operating theatres, even the wards, have to deal with unannounced (unplanned) urgent arrivals at any time of day or night that disrupt any planned schedule.

  9. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    JR: “This language is designed to politicise the NHS”
    That has been the case for decades and doesn’t just apply to Labour. In fact, your first paragraph shows just how you all treat the NHS as a political football from which you hope to gain electoral advantage.

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

      Quite.

      And hitting Labour hard can only benefit fringe parties – not the Tories. Labour voters will never switch to Conservative.

      I don’t know why the Tories have ever allowed themselves to be bullied over the NHS. It is the industrial wing of Labour – the BBC its broadcasting wing.

      What do they think naturally Tory people would do if they said “We’re running out of money. The NHS needs a private/public funding rethink.” ? Vote Labour to save the NHS ?

  10. Paul
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    It is also worth noting the effect of the ridiculous PFI deals Brown forced through on NHS budgets.

  11. JoolsB
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    With respect John, the only reason Labour are allowed to fight a UK election based on the NHS in England is because your party is letting them. Same with education. I am sick of UK politicians, ALL of them, deliberately omitting the word England when talking about either of these areas and all the other matters which only affect England. In doing so, they are deliberately trying to mislead the English public because to point out that UK Governments, including ones that might consist of Scots, Welsh & NI MPs including SNP, only have control over the NHS and education in England might mean the English begin to realise that England is separate to the UK, something not one of them will allow. Of course, Scots, Welsh & NI voters will know the UK Government does not control their health service or education because all two and a half parties will provide a Scottish manifesto, a Welsh manifesto and a NI manifesto.

    If you want us to take the Tories seriously on their English votes for English laws John, they could start with an ENGLISH manifesto as well. Talking of which, I have asked you two or three times recently what is happening with the EVEL white paper? Can we assume it is buried back in the long grass?

    • JoolsB
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      And still no answer. Why won’t you tell us John? Is it because you don’t want to admit Cameron has ratted on yet another promise – his EVEL pledge

      • Jerry
        Posted January 20, 2015 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

        @JoolsB; I guess we all need to wait for the manifestos, if there is no hope of getting EVEL through before the GE or whilst in a coalition then surely better to hang fire and keep ones powder dry for the coming campaign?

  12. Mark B
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    Since NHS Scotland, NHS Wales and NHS N. Ireland are all devolved, with only NHS England being managed by the UK (not English) government, RedEd can only talk about NHS England. If you want to talk about the other three, then the Labour and Conservative Party leaders for those other parts of the Union must speak, because it is after all, their responsibility.

    • Jerry
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

      @Mark B; “RedEd can only talk about NHS England. If you want to talk about the other three, then the Labour and Conservative Party leaders for those other parts of the Union must speak, because it is after all, their responsibility.”

      Oh goodness me, don’t make it even more complicated otherwise Mr Cameron will not only want the Greens to attend the “Leaders Debates” but also for all the devolved leaders to be present too…….

      Personally I would like the broadcasters to simply abandon the whole idea, we do not have a president in the UK and thus a presidential style debate is wrong as it will always become a personality issue and not a policy issue.

  13. agricola
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    As I have pointed out in the past but not published in your diary, the NHS is a Labour election subject, just like the feel good factor from economic recovery, which they see as Labour high ground from which they can denigrate the opposition. They also erroneously claim moral ownership of the NHS.

    They misrepresent the word privatisation, use it as a threat to the electorate and hope to gain votes. No political party to my knowledge aims to make the sick pay for medical services at the point of use. We all pay via income tax, national insurance, and prescription charges for some, but not all.

    Labour would seem to argue that any item or service that is contracted for from a private source is privatisation, utter nonsense. They overlook the Private Financing Initiative through which they incompetently bought many new hospitals.

    Labour do not stop at warping the English language. There is or was an award winning private hospital in Cambridgeshire called Hinchingbrooke. If you care to read the Daily Mail article on the subject at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article2913987/Labour-s- private-hospital-stitch-shocking-evidence-left-sabotaged-NHS-success-story.html , etc ed
    Why your minister of health was asleep at the time you can possibly explain.

    What Labour have achieved in Wales is just more Labour incompetence at the point of use in their Welsh NHS. The failure is almost certainly going to be found in the management and political control.

    Here is ammunition sufficient to make Labour sorry they ever mentioned the NHS.

  14. English Pensioner
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Labour also want to avoid talking about immigration.
    Like it or not, almost all of the problems in this country can be traced back to mass immigration – the NHS, Education, Housing, Terrorism and of course the country’s deficit. Until politicians recognise this, and accept that it is almost impossible to constantly expand facilities and services to meet the need of the rapidly increasing population, I feel that there is little hope for the country, especially as whilst this is all happening, our best and most needed people are leaving. Our friend in Melbourne tells us that she has a nice new English doctor at the surgery who got fed up with the NHS, whilst our daughter compares the education of our grandson with that of a distant cousin of the same age in Perth and finds that the boy in Australia is way ahead and that several of the teachers at the school are English.
    Yes, many of our problems in the NHS and elsewhere are due to bad management, but even more they are due to the ever increasing demand, which brings us full circle to immigration, something that neither Labour or the Conservatives wish to discuss.

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

      The ‘recovery’ is false too.

      Legarde is flavour of the month when she says the right things. Obama wants us in Europe (that means Ukip out of the equation)

      Will Mr Osborne tell us he has cured boom and bust ?

      No.

      Therefore we will suffer another bust in the future. (Not his fault – just the cyclic nature of economics)

      So the immigration of the last five Tory years is going to hit us very hard at some point. Culturally and when there are so many more citizens eligible for welfare and resources.

      This is to mention nothing of the disturbing new methods for mass transit of refugees across the Med and the refusal of our PM to discuss it.

      I feel I have nothing to lose by voting Ukip. Labour and Tory dance around the head of a pin on policy. There is little difference.

  15. Dennis
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    “nearly one in five people in Wales have to wait for more than the target four hours for attention in A and E”

    I suspect it is probably more, because this does not count those waiting outside in ambulances or driving around the circuit yet again. There is a notice on our local hospital A&E entrance, forbidding ambulance men, (sorry, paramedics), from bringing in patients until given approval by the desk. If you aren’t in the department, you aren’t waiting.

    Tying up ambulances like this has a knock on effect on response times to emergency calls. Targets are foolish and people will always manipulate situations like these to try and achieve them.

    The main problems of the NHS currently, regarding waiting times, can be traced back to the farcical GP contract, giving GP’s less work for more money. The problems have been exacerbated by putting GP’s in charge of so much funding. Simply putting “more money into the NHS” is like throwing money into a black hole, no-one knows what happens to it.

  16. alte fritz
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    I would like to see this type of illustration used to attack Labour. If they want to “weaponise”, then let them have it. Labour is, intellectually, falling apart at the seams. Harriet Harman was pretty awful on yesterday’s Sunday Politics and that was without Andrew Neill even getting out of first gear.

  17. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Tell me when the NHS wasn’t political from Aneurine Bevin to now. It is a great institution and one which I have beenvery proud to work for since 1968. I have watched the changes and the difficulties ; but we have survived. I have been on every type of ward imaginable , seen all departments and what has been most marked over the years is that staff in the main have been overworked. Whilst myself and others have tried to be perfect in all we do, we can only do so much. We have the weight of the UK on our shoulders whiLst combating those who would deliberately try to put us outwith the intention of making private money out of it The arguments and ‘made up’ mistakes don’t stop with the public/ private sector though, as all need themselves to survive .

  18. Iain Gill
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    The NHS discussion in the political class needs a big dose of reality.

    The NHS is nowhere near as good as the best of the rest of the world, none of which leave poor people without treatment. Quangos controlling decisions with next to no decisions in the customers (patients) hands inevitably leads to rubbish service. The only way to fix the NHS is to give patients proper buying power, to restrict access to it to those without indefinite leave to remain here who are from countries which do not give reciprocal care to Brits, to free Doctors up to tell the truth (ie what they would recommend if you were a private patient in front of them, and not the patient getting rationed NHS care), to get consultants doing triarge at A & E, to stop dumbing down to nurses doing docs jobs and docs doing consultants jobs.

    Simple stuff needs fixing immediately, why are patients who need heart stents not getting them in most of our big hospitals? Why are they being left to die years earlier than need be? Why is diagnosed early aggressive prostate cancer often left untreated, for the patients to die a long early death? Why no proper screening for the major causes of preventable death in men? Why are GP’s swamped with old dears in desperate need of someone to chat to but not really needing a doc? Why is anyone complaining of chest pain not treated seriously?

    Folk who can access London easily, with modest funds, are keeping private docs busy doing all the simple things the NHS refuses to do.

    Give me control of my health spend, let my buying decisions force the providers of care to change the way they work, turn the NHS into a state backed insurance scheme and get the state and its mandarins out of running healthcare.

    Why oh why don’t politicians speak out on the clear rubbish service? Any why are they given favouritism within the system, so that don’t get to see how bad it is?

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted January 20, 2015 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      Quite.

      Run it like a motor garage with fixed prices for procedures and then invoice HM Government based on use and delivery. Garages have many more mechanics than administrators and seem to make money while offering free diagnostic checks

      • Iain Gill
        Posted January 20, 2015 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        If I have an ear problem I want to see an ENT specialist, who will do the obvious things like remove dirty wax, flush with saline, and so on, which primary care folk in the UK never do, and are not trained or skilled at anyways. I don’t want to see an NHS GP or nurse who will tell me to leave it for another few weeks, will dish out drops or antibiotics. Cost to see an ENT specialist private £ 80, including a lot of tax, no overhead of half a day off work and cost of GP if self referral. This is exactly the kind of efficient service we need, which is actually lower cost than the NHS see a GP 3 or 4 times before being referred to a specialist nonsense, or worse see a nurse in a walk in clinic, and this is exactly what happens in many other countries people self refer to the obvious specialist, women choose their own gyne and would never go to a GP for a gyne exam, folk go direct to ENT specialist for ear problems, and so on. This NHS is ridiculous.

        • Jerry
          Posted January 21, 2015 at 9:53 am | Permalink

          @Iain Gill; But what if you don’t actually need such treatment, what if you just need a different type of over-the-counter ear drops that then allows nature to do what it does best – heal. Can you be sure that your private specialist will not carry out an unneeded and thus unwarranted treatment just so that they can charge you or your insurance? Oh and what if your ear problem is a symptom of a non ENT problem and the private specialist simply carries out what you have asked them to do and nothing more – sure you can enter litigation for malpractice if it all turns nasty later but that will not help your health, only your wallet.

          Anyway, if your way is the better way why can’t the NHS provide such a service, with properly trained staff, after all is the NHS not training such staff anyway?…

          • Iain Gill
            Posted January 21, 2015 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

            I am happy to let an ENT consultant diagnose ear problems. Many problems (buzzing, pain, etc) are simply dirty wax next to the ear, which is a physical problem not needing medicine. If that’s the underlying problem the NHS response is clear n0nsense. You may be interested to know in the waiting room of patients to see my private ENT consultant were GP’s (I know cos I talked to them) who themselves don’t believe in the ear drop/antibiotics approach in many cases.

          • Jerry
            Posted January 24, 2015 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

            @Iain Gill; Then the answer is for the NHS to have more ENT consultants and properly trained nurses etc, at the local level such as GP surgeries and walk-in centres etc.

            Of course that means either extra funding or the cutting of non-core/front line waste, most probably at the admin/management layers and thus why it will never happen!

  19. ChrisS
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    While I completely agree with the thrust of your argument it will never be implemented here.

    The problem is the totally false premise of “equality”

    The NHS has to be seen to provide equality of treatment irrespective of the ability to pay.
    Any other system ( and I would favour the German model based on insurance ) allows a choice of standard of treatment decided upon by how much the customer is willing to pay for the privilege.

    No UK politician could ever survive proposing such a solution because it would be considered unfair to those unable to pay for more than the minimum of cover.

    Of course this is complete nonsense because we all know that anyone with money can easily jump the queue and see the same consultant in their private capacity by paying a fee. They also have the option of choosing any level of opulence and convenience by opting for a private hospital bed.

    Then there is the health tourist : We have a holiday home in France. If I had a serious condition developing I would be straight across the channel and take advantage of the superb but even more unaffordable French healthcare system which would treat me under the EU reciprocal health care regime free of charge. Next year when we both reach state pension age my wife and I would be free to move to France and obtain all our health care there and the UK Government would pick up the bill. This too is an option not readily available to the majority of the population.

    Equality : it’s a myth sustained by politicians to ensure the NHS is untouched by long-overdue root and branch reforms.

    The arrogance of the very party that presided over Mid-Stafford and was responsible for the utterly discredited GP contract cynically attempting, with little success, to “weaponise” the NHS for electoral advantage is breathtaking. They even have the same person as their health spokesman !

    There will never be a concensus on how to modernise the NHS until we get enlightened politicians on all sides who agree to take the NHS out of the political arena altogether.

    Until then we are stuck with its gross inefficiency and failure to respond to the needs of the population.

    • stred
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for that tip. I have a holiday home in France, for which I have paid a fortune in tax. So if I am ill can I go there to get competent trreatment and charge it to the UK?

  20. Mike Stallard
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    The NHS in 2014 cost us British government expenditure on the NHS was 140 billion. the expenditure on servicing our debt was 84 billion.
    I personally consider this to be an emergency.
    Do you?

  21. brian
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Labour do understand their own devolution settlement but they choose to emphasise those things which suit their political narrative.

  22. oldtimer
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    This is Labour`s version of dog whistle politics, designed to secure 35% of the vote at the GE and a return to power. They talk about the NHS because they nothing much else to talk about.

    This policy vacuum will, it seems, be supported by a Get Out The Vote campaign at street level, supported by the unions, social media and and an ability to max out the benefits of the postal voting system. It has a chance of working. The risks that it will not are that Labour`s real core vote is less than 35% (say in the high 20s) and that some past supporters are persuaded to vote Green or UKIP instead.

  23. lojolondon
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    As always, Labour are aided and abetted by the biased BBC in this – highlighting the crisis in the NHS – every year in December it starts, there are multiple programmes initiated, the subject is covered on every news broadcast, complete with soundbites by Andy Burnham. No question is ever asked of Labour – eg. they ran the BHS for 13 years, why was it left in a poor state?
    John, I remain convinced, the Conservatives need to curb the innate bias of the BBC, or forfeit the next election.

  24. Border Boy
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    This point is raised regularly by TV interviewers with Labour Party representatives. Last week I saw Andrew Neil in his Daily Politics programme put the issue of the performance of the Welsh NHS to a labour rep. The question was put very directly at least 3 times but was ignored, a point that Neil commented on at the end. Looks like a tactic that may work unless relentlessly confronted.

  25. peter davies
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Indeed – when you think about their attack plans, the economy, “cost of living”, deficit reduction and 1 million jobs the only thing they have left to fight on is the dear old NHS.

    It might also be worth asking Labour to explain properly why they have blocked an OECD visit to the Welsh NHS – if it is all so great and they have run it more or less for the last 15 years or so, surely they would welcome any external inspection to come in at any time.

  26. peter davies
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    The left cant have their cake and eat it. On one hand they want free movement = huge population increases.

    On another they think we have mana from heaven when it comes to money and can afford to give benefits and health care for free and whilst thinking it will all be ok if we hike taxes for the rich and scrap trident etc.

    If we are to sustain our services whilst being tied into EU treaties, in my view health care and social security will only be able to work if we replace taxes with some sort of govt backed health insurance, pensions scheme, unemp sheme that we pay into instead of tax, along the lines of Germany/Netherlands etc.

    It prob won’t be any cheaper but at least you can see what you are paying for whilst taking it away from the hands of politicians.

    At some point people and all parties are going to have to accept this and start planning for it.

  27. William Gruff
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    … Labour wish to go through a whole UK General Election talking about the English NHS …

    A gift to your colleagues, Dr Redwood, which few can believe they will make any sort of use of, effective or otherwise.

  28. forthurst
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately, Andrew Lansley’s market-based reforms, in which GPs and others now constitute ‘Commissioning groups’ has not been a panacea to the problems of the NHS.

    Without an obligation on GPs to provide comprehensive 24×7 healthcare, without any attempt to stem the flow of immigrants which does not infiltrate the whole country evenly, without ensuring that our Universities train all the doctors we need, without ensuring that resources are not wasted on useless admin staff and even more useless computer systems, without reforms to bring a halt to the 24×7 drinking culture, the quality of service in the NHS will continue to deteriorate and much of the impact of failure will be felt in A&E depts. In fact attempts to reform the NHS from the outside by people who left to their own devices could not run a whelk stall are never likely to succeed.

  29. alan jutson
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Off topic, or is it.

    I see that The NSI, yet another Government run department is in total meltdown at the moment.

    It would seem that we are being told that too many people want to purchase the Retirement Savings Bonds.

    Thus the phones are constantly engaged, the web site has crashed, and the Post office no longer has application forms to fill in, because they were never given any in the first place.

    Seems like yet another lack of common sense.

    Having had 9 months to plan this launch, it seems the only way you can purchase is either on line or by phone, and for that you need an account with a debit card, as that is the only way to pay, unless you phone for an application form to be posted to you (5 days wait) and then post it by return with a cheque, in the hope that it will not be returned because they have sold out.

    What on earth was wrong with the simple old method of being able to pick up a form from the post office, and then popping it in the post.

    Why is it that Governments always want to do it the most complicated way.

  30. fedupsouthener
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    The old people in this country have paid in all their lives and actually built the NHS from it’s humble beginnings and so deserve to be treated in the same way as everyone else. They should not be looked upon as a nuisance. We will all be there one day! The lack of care in the community is a big problem for the elderly and this is clearly something that should be looked at urgently. Mass immigration is more to blame for the long waiting lists in the NHS. I note they say the birth rate is down but that our population is rising very steeply. Many births are down to immigration and our population is rising because more people are coming to the UK. This can only get worse the more difficulties the Euro Zone experiences. More unemployment in Europe will mean more people here regardless of the need for their particular employment skills.

    • William Gruff
      Posted January 20, 2015 at 12:06 am | Permalink

      fedupsoutherner:

      The old people in this country have paid in all their lives …

      That is nonsense, absolute twaddle, all too typical of people who seriously over rate themselves, their importance and their ‘contribution’; too often said by them and all too readily lapped up greedily by them from the brimful pannikin of condescension ladled out by cynical gerrymandering politicians to a feeble minded electorate.

      Few of our ‘old people’ have paid for anything paid for from taxes because almost all of the tax that almost pays for everything comes from commerce, and not from income tax or health contributions.

      Very very few of our ‘old people’ (I’m not that far from being old myself) have ‘paid in’ a penny and most have received many times more in benefits, healthcare and education than has been deducted from their wages and salaries over the course of their working lives. Few have paid sufficient tax to repay the cost of their primary and secondary state education or that of their children and grandchildren. Few have paid for the maternity care and child benefits they and their children have received. Few have paid for the medical care they and their children and grandchildren have received.

      … and actually built the NHS from it’s humble beginnings …

      More nonsense. The ‘humble beginnings’ of healthcare in England and the ‘U’K were perhaps in the seventh century, with the coming of Christianity, not 1948. By that date a world class medical service was long established, and it was the fount of many signal and seminal discoveries and innovations. What happened in 1948 to health in the ‘U’K was what happened to the railways, the docks, coal mining, aviation, road transport, the canals, broadcasting, water, gas, electricity and other businesses, industries and sectors of the economy: the grip of the state fastened about them and began the long, slow but ineluctable process of strangling them to death, ostensibly in the cause of a ‘fair’ society (I’ll concede that when no one can earn a living we are all equal). Sixty seven years later what was a world class, if not world leading, health service is ranked eighteenth.

      ‘The old people in this country’ bear the responsibility for all that is wrong with ‘this country’, whatever that means now, and are still not getting all they deserve, which is not what they think they are entitled to.

      • Jerry
        Posted January 21, 2015 at 10:06 am | Permalink

        @William Gruff; “More nonsense.”

        Why, ‘fedupsoutherner’ said the NHS, not the beginnings of medicine in the UK!

        “The ‘humble beginnings’ of healthcare in England and the ‘U’K were perhaps in the seventh century, with the coming of Christianity, not 1948. By that date a world class medical service was long established

        Assuming you could afford it of course, or were lucky enough to have and be near a religious order that specialised in medicine, even as late as the 1930s many in the UK were totally reliant on charity for their medical needs that could not be dealt with by the local Pharmacist – or worst, the local Quack… Hence why the principle of the creation of the NHS had cross party support by the 1945 election even if the details were disputed.

        • William Gruff
          Posted January 21, 2015 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

          Oops, out manoeuvred and hoist with my own petard. ‘My bad’, as they say these days.

          Or not.

          I wrote of healthcare in England and the ‘U’K, which is what the NHS is ostensibly concerned with, not the ‘beginnings of medicine in the UK’, which polity did not exist until 1707.

          Your next point seems confused to me, however:

          Few were dependent on the religious houses for healthcare by the 1930s and relatively few died in that decade for want of medicine, certainly fewer than died in France and elsewhere between August 1914 and November 1918. That aside, at no time in the past did any religious order or house specialise in medicine (all specialised in praying for the souls of the founders and brethren – that is the only point of a monastery).

          Those who were ‘ totally reliant on charity for their medical needs’ in the 1930s are still so now, the only difference is that charitable donation is now coerced, eligibility is now at the discretion of some unsympathetic apparatchik or bureaucrat and standards are at an ‘all time low’.

          The ‘local quack’ was often capable of performing surgery on a kitchen table and spotting diseases that now pass unnoticed until the sufferer is lying on a mortuary table (by ‘worst’ I assume you meant worse), and coming to some arrangement for payment, if he expected payment at all (as a son of two poor lines that have suffered their share of dreadful diseases I know that medical help was never withheld when needed, even before 1948, and as the husband of someone who gives veterinary care to people who cannot afford it I know that money isn’t always the motivator).

          If ‘the principle of the creation of the NHS had [genuine] cross party support by the 1945 election’ it may just have done so because those sitting on the benches on both sides of the house understood that public dissent was unlikely to win the election.

          The ‘disputed’ details dog the NHS to this day.

  31. Thet Work for Us?
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    As usual your words do reflect the case.
    Many Politicians are not really up to it but are ex PPE carreerists or people with no experience of real work or business.
    Very many Politicians and others that have been allowed to push themselves forward are exponents of a type of “Managerialism” where the Management Brief or Overview represents the limit of their understanding, with no time or interest to know more.
    Hence the Politician effectively is saying “never mind the facts, feel the quality of my rhetoric and emotion”. Pointing out the facts is greeted with nervous annoyance coupled with the view that you are somehow not on side and with the assertion that the policy is a good one and is going to be carried out anyway.

  32. turbo terrier
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    No matter how much money is thrown at the NHS it will never be enough.

    If politicians want to practice honesty they should look no further than our host and his 100 odd like minded members.

    Do not always like what he thinks and writes but at least his honest opinion and benefit of his experience both in and out of the house is to be respecred and sometimes questioned.

    Today in the Times Labour are going to install more off shore wind, that will have a greater impact on the nation than trying to improve the NHS because it effects everybody 24/7 unlike the NHS only when you need it.

    As a regular to my local hospital to many different departments to manage my long term health problems, it never ceases to amaze me the scores of middle and higher managers and executives that are on show on the foyer notice boards that are “managing your health” Are they all really needed? From a working career in industry I very much doubt it!

  33. fedupsouthener
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    With the problem of Syrian refugees I think the problems for the UK and the NHS are about to get worse.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/11352484/Forget-this-mega-refugee-crisis-lets-talk-about-global-warming.html

    See link above.

  34. Matt
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    With Labour in charge, the NHS would be run in the best interests of the staff and not the patients.
    Also, since the economy and therefore state finances would most likely be in a complete mess 10 minutes after they came into office; I don’t see how they would fund the NHS.

  35. Richard1
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    There is also an extraordinary report in the press claiming that Labour and trades unions officials have deliberately sabotaged the running of Hinchingbrooke Hospital, which had been successfully rescued by a private company. Needless to say we haven’t heard this scandalous story on the BBC. Is such (alleged ed)sabotage is part of what Mr Miliband meant when he said he intended to ‘weaponise’ the NHS.

  36. John E
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    A lot of the current problems in A+E are caused by the lamentably idiotic 111 phone system. This is an NHS own goal.

    This completely fails in the job of applying appropriate telephone triage. The worried well and those with a cold are sent to clog up A+E, whereas in my recent experience someone with a dislocated hip following replacement surgery was given no useful input, being asked bizarrely inappropriate and irrelevant questions from a script until she hung up on the 111 service and called 999. Clearly it would have been better if she called 999 in the first place but we don’t always do the best thing when in shock and pain.

    Happily the incident was during the middle of a weekday so the first responder and ambulance came quickly, A+E was not too busy and her treatment from then on was exemplary.

    I think it would save trouble all round to close down the 111 line.

  37. Jon
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Ever since I can remember Labour politicise a subject to block sensible discussion. For instance the level of immigration, a legitimate subject to discuss the numbers as we need to have the resources and infrastructure to cope. However, anyone who was concerned would be called a racist. Another one today was the Arts, criticising those in teh arts who had a private education. James Blunt who was targeted gave a brilliant response to that bigoted view and one Labour use to divide and politicise. Bizarrely popular music is not dominated by Harrow or Eaton educated people.

    They really are a pointless group that just seeks to get in power with no thought to debate how to make things better.

  38. Ian wragg
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    John
    As I post this system load is 52 and wind is supplying 0.41gw. How much more of this nonsense must we endure

  39. Ian wragg
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    That’s 52gw.

  40. P. Turner
    Posted January 20, 2015 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Here in Wales the policy seems to be the removal of services from the peripheral hospitals to the centre i.e. contraction of health care. The main reason for this is said to be shortage of staff from Doctors, Nurses and other Health Care Professionals and financial considerations. This has meant that places such Fishguard, St. Davids and many smaller villages and hamlets are then faced with journeys in excess of 50 miles there and 50 miles back for treatment. This is termed improving the service.

    • William Gruff
      Posted January 25, 2015 at 2:58 am | Permalink

      Health is a devolved issue. This is the blog of an English MP representing an English constituency still ruled by the ‘U’K government. Write to your WAGM, or whatever they call themselves now.

      Cymru am Byth.

  • 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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