Debate Magazine

Doesn't Follow.

Posted on the 10 October 2013 by Markwadsworth @Mark_Wadsworth
From The Metro COPYING ideas from poorer countries such as India and Ghana is key to saving the NHS, a watchdog says.  Adopting 'industrial engineering' techniques used to carry out cataract surgery in Aravind, India, could save £1.1 billion a year, Monitor claims.  Another £800 million could be recouped if Britain copies Mexico, where two-thirds of patients sort out their problems in a phone call with a nurse... All good stuff, health spending is a question of diminishing returns to scale, some things are worth every penny, other things aren't and somebody has to draw a line somewhere.  But shadow health minister Andy Burnham said: "This will send a shiver down many a spine. "It confirms the suspicion many people have that David Cameron is softening up the NHS for privatisation."  How on earth did he work that out? I am really am sick and tired of this false dichotomy that Tories want to privatise everything and Labour want to nationalise everything, it's a bit more nuanced than that.  If you think about it, everything is ultimately privatised at the bottom level. Police officers are private individuals who receive payment from the government for maintaining law and order. Firms who supply the police with stationery,  computers or cars are private businesses. But "the police" in the wider sense is quite certainly a national thing.  So it all depends on what level of the organisation is being "privatised".  If Cameron went mad and handed over the keys to the entire NHS to some large corporate and gave them £100 billion a year for doing whatever it is they feel like doing, such as leveraging up on the land and buildings, taking massive bonuses, providing a catastrophically bad service and then disappearing, that'd clearly be a bad move.  But we already have this at a low level with GPs, they get given random amounts of money for doing whatever it is they feel like doing. Are they still an integrated part of the NHS? I would say "yes". Are their salaries and housing subsidies justified or value for money? I would say "no".  What if the NHS realises that procedure XYZ costs them £10,000 but they can send patients to a hospital in Eastern Europe who can do it just as well for £5,000? That's still NHS, isn't it?  So it's all a question of degree.

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