Friday, August 14, 2009

We Should Obsess About the Nation's Health, Not the NHS

The campaign via Twitter to force people to declare their "love" for the NHS is not one I shall be participating in. I do not "love" the NHS any more than I "love" other major national institutions like the Police or the armed forced. These institutions are not there to be "loved", they are there to provide public services, and if they do a good job they should certainly be respected. But "loved", give me a break. This is puerile politics at its worst.

Dan Hannan's remarks about the NHS in America were bound to cause controversy. The fact that he dared to criticise what has become a hallowed British institution on foreign soil has not gone down well with David Cameron and Andrew Lansley, and it is easy to see why. They have spent a long time re-establishing Conservative credentials on the NHS and among NHS staff. This hard work could now be undermined by the actions of someone they see as a renegade backbencher who holds no official policy portfolio in the party.

The Labour Party has naturally jumped all over Hannan's remarks, and who can blame them? But when we have to listen to Andy Burnham, the Health Secretary, talk about "Labour's NHS" it's time to pass the sick bucket. It's not Labour's NHS, the NHS belongs to those who pay for it.

This whole row illustrates the problem we have in this country. It is impossible to have a rational debate about the NHS because the moment anyone utters the most mild of criticism (and I accept Hannan's doesn't fall into that category!) or dares to suggest that the NHS actually isn't all that perfect, they are dumped on from a great height and accused of wanting to "Americanise" or privatise the whole system.

Until we accept that the NHS cannot possibly meet every demand made on it, and that we should be moving towards a mixed system of healthcare provision, the days of waiting lists, a lamentable dentistry service, postcode lotteries and withholding of disease curing drugs won't be over. The days of "public bad private good" and the reverse should be behind us. No other country in the world manages its health system in this way, but if you dare suggest that the private sector just might hold some of the answers you're just shouted down by all the vested interests whose very existence might be threatened. If you point out that every other European country has a mixed system which produces better outcomes you're accused of being a right wing zealot.

No, the NHS isn't perfect, and Dan Hannan has pointed this out using some fairly lurid language. But just to ignore the points he makes and pretend all is well is to brush it all under the carpet, which is exactly what the Labour Party wishes the media would do. Its record on the NHS is mixed to say the least. Yes, progress has been made. In 12 years so it should have been. But at what cost? Has the huge amount of taxpayers' money pumped into the NHS really produced the benefits and improved health we should have expected. No one could seriously answer 'yes' to that question.

I don't think anyone can seriously doubt the David Cameron's commitment to the NHS. It did wonders for his son Ivan, and he has demonstrated his commitment by consistently saying it is "number one priority" and that its funding will be ringfenced. Not only that, but he and Andrew Lansley have committed themselves (wrongly in my view, bearing in mind the state of our public finances) to real terms funding increases. No Labour politician has done that. Even sceptics would surely have to admit that the NHS would be, to use a famous quote, "safe in his hands". His commitment to the NHS does in part stem from his own family's experience and he is not alone in this, as this morning's 5 Live Breakfast Phone in proved. People do judge big institutions by their own experience of them. I, for example, have little confidence in the Police because every time I have some experience of them, it is a bad one.

Most people do have a good experience in the NHS, but those who have bad experiences tend to let them affect their view for longer. From a personal point of view I could not speak highly enough of the treatment I have received for my diabetes. But my experience with relatives who have had prolonged stays in hospital is sadly very different. We have a mental healthcare system which disgraces the concept of a civilised nation and almost non existent NHS dental care provision.

If you die earlier in Britain than you would in other countries. If you can't get dental care like you can in other countries, if the NHS won't give you the drugs you need because you have at some point paid for them, if the NHS wastes billions on bureaucracy, then you rightly ask why politicians aren't gripping the argument and coming up with solutions.

It is because we are trying to make a 1940s healthcare system cope with the demands of a 21st century society. We cling to the idea that healthcare is free at the point of delivery, while conveniently ignoring the truth that in many cases it isn't, and it never can be. And yet at the same time we prevent those who are happy to pay for their care from doing so without then being banned from having NHS treatment. Until we come to terms with the fact that a 1940s structure can never service 21st century needs, we're not going to get anywhere.

Andy Burnham says there is a deep hostility to the NHS within Conservative ranks. It suits his political agenda to allege that, but it is simply not true. There is a deep hostility to waste and inefficiency but there is no hostility to the NHS as an institution. It is not a total failure, but contains within it systems which are failing. It is the duty of politicians to point those out, react to people's concerns and come up with solutions. The trouble with the health debate now is that few people are even willing to have a rational debate without coming up with scare stories about cuts.

It's thoroughly depressing. Until we acknowledge that it is the nation's health we should be obsessing about, rather than an institution called the National Health Service, we won't get anywhere.

UPDATE: Dizzy has a blindingly good post on this subject HERE.

UPDATE: Little Ben Bradshaw tweets: "Cameron doesn't sack Hannan but does Tim Kirkhope - says all you need to know about "modern" Tory party."

Doesn't that tell you all you need to know about Bradshaw and the level of debate these pimples of cabinet ministers wish to have? Kirkhope wasn't sacked, and what exactly is Hannan supposed to be sacked from? He doesn't hold a front bench portfolio.

124 comments:

Pogo said...

The level of "debate" over the NHS is utterly pathetic and seems never to get further than "you either have to love it and consider it the greatest institution in the known universe or you're obviously champing at the bit for its abolition".

I suppose it's just a result of the "yah-boo" politics that characterises the main parties and their uncritical acolytes.

Anonymous said...

Don't we already have a 'mixed' health care system in this country - last time I checked I could get health care from any number of private providers - I am glad that those who can't afford private health care can access the NHS and I am more than happy to pay taxes towards this.

Quietzapple said...

Danniel Hannan may be more popular in the USA than here, as evidenced by the comments of the Daily Telegraph blogs after his silly YouTube harangue of Gordon Brown a while back, but the most vocal tories online commonly support him, not Cameron on welfare, the NHS and other such issues.

Most folk support the NHS more strongly than for some time:

"The NHS has never had such high ratings, with GPs scoring 77%. Worry about education is at its lowest in 25 years. Worry about crime has fallen from a peak two years ago, and only 3% mention taxation as a problem. Not surprisingly, the economy dominates anxiety."

This was based on objective research:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jun/26/local-government-class-equality?plckFindCommentKey=CommentKey:e2887ff3-b3b2-480a-9e59-332fc2daa2af

So your answer Iain, is because people are happy with the status quo, but you are free to debate away.

Alienate all the voters you can. A US connection particularly alienating I fear.

http://quietzapple-musing.blogspot.com/

Nicholas Rogers said...

Iain, this has got to be one of your best ever posts.

Mike Law said...

Well written piece Iain.

Maybe you should take part in writing up Conservative Policy re the NHS.

not an economist said...

"But when we have to listen to Andy Burnham, the Health Secretary, talk about "Labour's NHS" it's time to pass the sick bucket."

How come he is not talking about "Labour's war in Afghanistat or Iraq"? Its clear to all and sundry that the current labour leadership has direct ownership in those two policy developments.

Furthermore the cuts the NHS will have to endure over the next few years are a direct consequence of the reckless economic policies of the Labour Govt. The increases in NHS spending since 1997 will be wiped away by the current recession and coming inflation. No dount Burnham et al will blame the Tories for that but it should be clear to most that the cuts will be necessitated by a downturn turn and fiscal deficit which New Labour created, not the Tories. The latter will simply be clearing up the mess left by the former, making the hard decisions that Brown has steadfastly avoided even considering.

Anonymous said...

wow dale, you can be articulate, after all! did YOU actually write this article? hhmmm.

this is a headache for Cameron, short term only, though.

I can't blame Labour for jumping all over this, though. A party heading for electoral oblivion is bound to use every tactic it can to smear the opposition.

Had to laugh at Prescott on bbc news though - he said hannan had misrepresented the NHS - which prompted him to then totally misrepresent the Conservative position.

trevorsden said...

Hannon is as big a right wing pillock as Duncan is a wet left wing one.

Cameron has said all the right things.

I am a right wing tory - I cannot see us 'getting rid' of the NHS - it is too embedded. But it can of course be modified and modernised. This was what Blair promised and failed to deliver.

The public are clear they want an NHS and want one that works.

subrosa said...

Why are people so emotional about the NHS when it's their own health they should be caring about.

I doubt if many of the 'I love the NHS' brigade have ever experienced health care in France, Germany or Switzerland where it is far superior to the NHS.

That's not to say the NHS isn't reasonably effective but it does say it requires complete modernisation and taken out of political hands.

Only then will be get a service which is cost effective and patient centred. We have the quality in the staff, do we have such quality in our politicians to make the decision?

cymrumark said...

The fact remains many in the Tory party are anti the NHS for ideological grounds. No health system will ever be perfect and the NHS in both England and Wales has flaws.

That said its preferable to any other system. The prospect of a huge Tory majority let loose on the NHS will scare quite a lot of people....sensible politics for Labvour to play this up.

Anonymous said...

why are some torys nasty to the NHS?

Anonymous said...

I am not a fan of Dan Hannan. When I heard him speak he was smug and answered the questions he wanted to hear and not those asked. I also think that the NHS needs to be preserved in some form or another, as universal healthcare is an important part of the social contract between government and the electorate.
I would like to know, however, why the left are allowed to through the term 'unpatriotic' around when a conservative politician using that term would be accused of 'nationalism' or 'jingoism' if they accused Gordon Brown of being 'unpatriotic' for failing to support HM Armed Forces?

Anonymous said...

Really, really pleased to see Hannam get his come-uppance.

STB2 said...

"The campaign via Twitter to force people to declare their "love" for the NHS..."

That seems a rather odd statement. Politicians and bloggers may be goading each other into commenting one way or another on the issue, but the overwhelming majority of tweets I've read are simply people who appreciate the good service from the NHS and would like it to continue to exist. Nothing forced - indeed, how would anyone force me to tweet anything?

One problem with Hannan's comments is that the majority of the Tory blogosphere agrees with them and the majority of the electorate does not.

Man in a Shed said...

Just heard a nasty interview with Andy Burnham who was spiting poison hate disinformation and spin with every breath.

There are great problems with the NHS - many of which Labour created when they dumped large amounts of cash ( which we now know came from borrowing and stealing our children's futures ) on an unreformed NHS ( due to Labour private civil war between Brown and Blair ).

The NHS super computer project, as dreamt up on Blair's sofa has destroyed billions of pounds that could have saved thousands of lives.

It took massive political pressure to get Labour to face up to the problem of hospital acquired infections and Labour disastrous policies of doctors training and the destruction of nursing in the Uk are a matter of record.

Labour are more than hypocrites on the NHS they are a positive danger to everyone's health.

Labour the party of millionaire politicians ( who grabbed all their cash from the state and the positions it gave them ) and the love of wasting money has nothing to tell.

Even Brown have the teeth he lies through so often sorted by a private dentist.

Quietzapple said...

It is interesting to see how some expats have behaved in France, which is sometimes said to have a health service in which adults can make their own decisions.

Putting off costly examinations until they return home for an NHS one has at least once proven fatal.

HMG has increasingly been employing private practice here when it is found to be helpful and cost effective.

The most clearcut and obvious aspect of our health, which impinges on the welfare of us all because the "victims" do not often contribute to the commonweal as they otherwise might, is obesity, which is associated with Diabetes.

Right wingers online have often objected to the very notion of spending public money on informing people and campaigning to reduce this epidemic here.

Obviously a long term matter, and no doubt the USA, with a still worse problem, is trying to tackle this too.

BlueMedStudent said...

A fairly reasoned post Iain.

I'm a medical student and firmly believe in equality of healthcare and the NHS is an integral part of British society and should be maintained as such. It is clear that management of the NHS (introduced under the Tories but extended by Labour) does more harm than good and that debate over the future of the NHS is very much needed.

What I think speaks volumes about the NHS is that there are a large number of people here who could afford private healthcare and insurance but don't because they are satisfied by the care offered by the NHS. This is not due to the actions of any government - Labour or Conservative - but the dedication of the staff within the NHS despite the actions of government to offer a consistently high standard of care to all persons, irrespective of financial status.

There are two things which anger me about Dan Hannan's comments - the first is the irrelevance of the NHS to Obama's healthcare plan, Obama is planning to increase access to healthcare to those who currently cannot afford it rather than decrease the quality of that offered to those who already have insurance. The second is the sheer ignorance with which he speaks of the NHS and the disrespect which bestows upon the many dedicated individuals who work for it. As a Conservative party member, I have had some rather heated conversations with many of my colleagues over the future of the NHS under the Conservatives if this is the sort of public contempt which is displayed. Cameron's refusal to act (rather than just speak) in distancing himself from Hannan's comments and sentiments hasn't made my life any easier.

I really want to believe that the Conservative party has moved on to supporting social equality and acknowledge that there are always going to be a few extremists within any party but to say that they 'wouldn't wish the NHS on anyone' displays a shocking level of ignorance and right-wing pandering.

I'm sorry if this comment seems like a rant, it is not intended as such, but I hope that this whole saga has the potential to provoke serious debate over both the future of the NHS, the future of the Conservative party's support for the NHS and its workers and whether David Cameron has sufficient respect for the good which the NHS does to actually discipline Dan Hannan rather than give Labour yet more ammunition by just using words.

Fresh said...

Hold on a sec here. People get rightfully very emotive on the issue of the NHS because it is a service which helps save lives and improve people's health.

You have to realise that among the public, especially working class people, any move away or attack on this system of bizarre and frankly frightening. In a similar way as the Police serve to make people safe, the NHS serves people, no matter how much money they have, and provides them with healthcare. In my eyes it is a national treasure, but of course it could be better funded and managed.

I think the real issue here is not so much the NHS, but the utter clash of ideologies in the Tory Party. Talk about North and South Pole! Can't imagine anywhere near such a clash of policy thought in Labour or the LibDems. While that CAN be healthy, it can also be distabilising - especially if said Party is in government.

An interesting debate nontheless.

britologywatch said...

Very well argued piece, Iain. However, it begs the question of which NHS you are talking about. There are four NHS's in the UK, and the Tory and Labour health spokesmen are responsible only for the English one. So the American critics have unwittingly got it right in one respect when they slag off the 'English' NHS. Yes, it's in England that life-saving drugs are withheld that are available elsewhere in the UK, and mean-minded calculations of the financial value of human lives are made, because resources are scarcer in England.

Are the Tories really going to bring an end to health apartheid? Or, to adopt your emphasis, will they openly make the health of the English nation a priority in the way New Labour manifestly has failed to do? Or will they hide national-health inequality under the cloak of misleading references to a uniform 'British NHS' that no longer exists?

Anonymous said...

Whilst I agree with most of your comments Ian, i'm afraid the private sector could never be brought into a truly 'mixed' system. The private sector in this country would never be prepared to accept some moral responsibility. Look at the way they run the railways. Yes, journeys are up but the level of dividends against improvements is a farce.

Hurf Durf said...

Watching Good Ol' Dave, Labour and the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation (that can go, to be quite honest) wet their knickers over Hannan's comments is rather embarrasing to behold.

Anonymous said...

The National Health Service isn't very good. Back in 1948 it probably led the way, but most of Europe being even poorer than us didn't give it much competition. It held its own through the 50's and 60's. but has declined in relative terms ever since. The real problem is that it is not a National Health Insurance Scheme as they set out to form, but a free at point of delivery scheme, which is totally unaffordable.Minds were changed between 1945 and 1948 (National INSURANCE contributions) with today's disastrous results.

Fausty said...

I wholeheartedly agree.

CNN's Larry King show aired some sensible debate on the issue.

People have come to know the demonising tactics the far-left extremist Labour Party uses to stifle dissent and I think this time, the tide is working against them.

I've had some ghastly treatment courtesy of the NHS and will never allow my private health insurance to lapse, regardless of my financial state.

Joe said...

There's no campaign "forcing" people to declare #welovethenhs.

It's just very easy to show your solidarity and to be part of something when all you're going to lose are some of your 140 characters.

I'd also point out that almost all the tweeters are doing it because they're pissed off at puerile politicians in another country making up things about the NHS, in order to shut down their healthcare debate. Not at all because the tweeters want to shut down the same debate in this country.

On the other hand - you are absolutely right on the need to talk about shifting the NHS towards the different options we have for mixed models.

And this is indeed one of your best ever posts.

Ben said...

If Hannan appeared on FOX attacking our armed services would you not feel compelled to respond? Hannan is in love with the sound of his own voice and has stabbed the NHS in the back.

And I LOVED his harangue of that moron Brown.

Nick Thornsby said...

I actually think you're incorrect to say that reform of the Health Service can't be discussed. I think most people would welcome reforms that made the systems that aren't working within the NHS better.

But the majority of people in Britain support the NHS and are wary of private involvement (http://www.ipsos-mori.com/Assets/Docs/Polls/Poll-UNISON-%20Topline%20110809v2.pdf).

And can you blame people for being sceptical about private involvement when they don't feel other industries that have been privatised have improved?

People are ready to hear how political parties will improve and reform the NHS, but they are highly sceptical about private sector involvement.

Anonymous said...

I have 63 years experience of the so called National Health Service.
In my opinion in its current state it is absolute shyte. As for those who lard praise on those who work in it, take of your rose tinted glasses.

Anonymous said...

Hannan made the mistake of trying to agree with his hosts in an effort to impress them. He didn't opt to tell the truth; he didn't opt even to follow the party line; he opted to tell his listeners what they wanted to hear.

I've respected Hannan ever since that spectacular speech when he told Brown off. I've lost a lot of respect for him after this because he has shown a wide streak of sycophancy. If had told the truth - that the NHS is ridiculously oveburdened with bureaucracy and is run along outdated lines - no-one could have criticised him. If he'd merely mouthed the official Tory party line ("Hey, we ove the NHS!") everyone would have shrugged and thought nothing of it. What he did, instead, was to lie - to tell truly vile lies - in order to ingratiate himself with his audience.

Despicable.

Anonymous said...

Whatever one's feelings on the rights and wrongs of loving public institutions, the fact is that many people do: people take pride in the NHS and feel great affection for it; similarly they feel great love for and pride in the armed forces and even the monarchy.

It would be wise, I think, to be more circumspect in dismissing this affection as mere puerility. It may not be quite up your alley, or mine, come to that, but the things you say in the first paragraph could be miscontrued by a lot of people to constitute a dismissive attitude not merely to the health service but to the armed forces and other public services.

Sean Haffey said...

For years I have been told that "the NHS is the envy of the world". The response by some Americans has come as a huge culture shock.

fyoc said...

I totally agree with you Iain and I think you articulate what many of us feel.

If Sarah and Gordon are Twittering away, they obviously have too much time on their hands. Such sanctimonious bullshit they purvey.

Seriously, what does Gordon know about a waiting list? Look at what happened to Blair when he needed treatment in casualty. He received treatment immediately which is not normally available to others. They really are great test cases of what it's like to use the NHS aren't they......

Sean Haffey said...

Presciently, I blogged Is the NHS Really Sacred? last month.

I think this is an area where we (conservatives) need a clearer line: we'll make the NHS better, and that may need some surgery, slimming and a fitness programme.

Windbaggery said...

Iain, for myself I find the Tories talking of NHS reform usually means that as I come up to retirement, they want me to start paying for a service for which I have been funding for all my working life through contributions.

It's like paying for an insurance policy only to be told upon maturity 'sorry you'll have to pay after all'.

Do I trust that the Tories really have changed their spots on the NHS since the privatizing 90s? - No I don't.

Finally, has Labour done a good job with the NHS? - Answer No, they are too fond of their own hubris.

troymolloy said...

An impressive piece Iain, congratulations.

I understand Cameron's need to be seen to stand up for the NHS (electorally speaking), but his response to Mr Hannan's remarks goes too far in that direction ("100% behind the NHS"); he seems willing occasionally to challenge the government's mis-management of the NHS but completely unwilling to suggest that in some areas the system is not fit for purpose - as if he honestly believes NHS workers will be offended if he makes such points (although, thanks to the spin the media would no doubt put on such remarks, the more impressionable workers probably WOULD take offence).
Overall Cameron's pronouncements are somewhat redolent of his "Being in the EU is good for Britain" mantra.

Bradshaw's comments are an absolute joke, or at least they should be. Hardly surprising from Mr B though, I haven't heard him say anything sensible or consistent in years.

gordon-bennett said...

The Conservatives were in power for 18 years from 1979.

They wanted to tame the unions and so they did.

They didn't want to get rid of the nhs and so they didn't.

And another thing. From now on, if a single labour MP dissents from a government policy will the wretched beeb start announcing that the labour government is falling apart. Course not, they're all thick socialists together.

Quietzapple said...

Not entirely clear to me that David Chameleon Rebuked Daniel Hannan: anyone got a convincing quote, or is the Beeb just i/c supporting david as per . . ?

Anonymous said...

Who wrote this piece for you then, Iain? I'm a teacher and I'd like to think that I can detect when someone is passing off work as their own.

David Boothroyd said...

Suggest Ben Bradshaw may have confused Tim Kirkhope with fellow Yorkshire MEP Edward McMillan-Scott, who was indeed 'sacked' (in the sense of being deprived of the Conservative whip) for protesting at the extremism of the Conservatives' new Polish allies.

Anonymous said...

This hate/love NHS is a childish reaction. Mind you the tone was set by Fox News!
Currently their level of debate is **you have socialised health care -you will have terrorists streaming through the door. Those foreign Muslim Doctors can't be trusted!****
How can Dan Hannon be listened to when he is so prepared to appear with such a shoddy, manipulative and nasty bunch of "pundits" (I can't ever call them journalists.)

This is Fox at their worst.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2c-JEx-Kfvc

James said...

Iain's post gave voice to the exact sentiment I'd been planning to post on Cameron's blog today: our debate should be about healthcare, of which the NHS is a large part, not about the NHS itself.

It is quite unfortunate that so many people are so ignorant of the situation elsewhere, making the absurd assertion that the NHS is somehow the "best" or that they'd be dead without it: in reality, almost anywhere in the West, they'd have had treatment, probably better and quicker than the NHS as well. To make assertions about how we would be "without the NHS" is to use the absurd false dichotomy between the NHS and nothing at all.

To profess "love" for the NHS is akin to pledging allegiance to the steam engine: it may have a "romantic" appeal more modern rivals lack, but there are good reasons why almost nobody else uses it any more; it is indeed better than nothing, but nothing is not the alternative on offer! It is healthcare we need, and attacking anyone who wants to improve it for not showing enough loyalty to the status quo is very counterproductive.

Mark M said...

Anon @12:51

But what of upper middle classes who can't afford to pay entirely for a better treatment privately but theoretically COULD afford to if they didn't have to pay thousands of pounds per year in tax to the NHS?

Why should they not be allowed the benefits of a private healthcare they could afford were it not for the NHS?

Last time I checked we spend over £1,500 per year on the NHS for every man, woman and child in the country. A fairly high-level insurance policy with Aviva costs around £600 per year.

Doubting Richard said...

At the risk of link-whoring, I have written a post telling my story which indicates a fatal flaw in the current model of healthcare in the UK. As far as I can see it means the NHS is impossible to justify.

Andrew said...

As an expat who has been on both sides of the healthcare systems in Britain and America, I'm anti-NHS because every experiance I've had of the NHS has been a negative one. Hospitals are brutally inefficient, in many cases old and decrepit, and lack the basic care services the NHS is meant to stand for, despite the heroic efforts of the people who work in them.

The American system is flawed in that it excludes too many people who should be afforded basic care, but in terms of quality of service, preventative treatment and the sheer caring of the people who work in it - it's a million light years better than the shabby NHS.

I give up said...

What makes me feel sick is Andy Burnham's comments that Hannan was "unpatriotic".


Sorry, what?


It is "unpatriotic" to argue against the British state - and I thought this was supposed to be a free society.*


*actually, I didn't, I know this is a fascist country; but this is just further conformation of the fact that opposition to state policy is seen by our warmongering, authoritarian, bankrupt government as somehow against the nation.


PS. In Scotland, c difficile killed 247 people, and was a factor in the death of a further 517. When was the last time that happened in a BUPA hospital?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/glasgow_and_west/8189711.stm

Ruth@VS said...

A good post Iain, thankyou. We have to be able to criticise the NHS intelligently, without hysteria.

I used to be responsible for buying health insurance for my company and so have seen healthcare from both sides. As a result, now I am self employed I sacrifice some of my money each month to private healthcare cover because I know that if I ever need it, I will get speedy and high quality treatment.

As an example of NHS waste, if you are invited for an osteoporosis screening in this area (Not me, I'm too young) you can expect to attend at the screening centre two or three times over a few weeks (transported at taxpayers' expense), see two or three doctors, two nurses (who know if you have osteoporosis but aren't allowed to tell you), and then be told to go to your doctor in 8 weeks time when the test results arrive. Oh, and at no point in that process will you be told what treatments are available or how you can help yourself through diet etc. I got lots of information from the internet for the person concerned and by the time she finally saw her GP 3 months after testing, she knew more about dietary requirements than he did. So the only information she got on treatment options and helping herself was from me.

We should never defend any institution blindly - the NHS has its good points but also some bad ones. I believe we have to move to a mixed system.

Doug said...

There should be a more vigorous defence of those who have legitimate criticism. Labour are just trying to close down debate.

I'd like to see someone say that while Labour pretend the NHS is perfect they tacitly condone the deaths of thousands of people as a direct result of NHS failures. Andy Burnham appears to not give a damn about the health of British citizens just the institution that is the NHS.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think it's quite sweet that people choose to express appreciation, fondness and indeed love for a public service. It make a change from the constant sniping about beurocratic little hitlers etc. that is hallmark of the right wing blogosphere.

You bemoan the lack of a proper debate about health care in this country and yet you excuse the ideologically driven, disingenous and outright false comments of Mr Hannan, indulge in name calling ('peurile', 'pass the sick bucket', 'pimples') whilst failing to set out any examples of how you wish this debate to proceed.

Paul Halsall said...

Iain,

Just suppose you become HIV+.

In the US (in the better states), if you cannot afford it, you will get free HIV meds. That makes it better than if, for example, you get liver failure.

And you may, if your illness is 'popular' get some care. [Magic Johnson, a former basketball player who is HIV funded care in Jacksonville FL, for example].

But you have no guarantee of care if you need hospitalising.

Meanwhile the bills are incredible. I lived there 20 years, and had good insurance, but I still got the bills. (You get unbelieveably massive amounts of paperwork).

I was in hospital for 6 days because of an e-coli infection. The bill came to $49,000 - and included amounts like $5,000+ for drugs I simply was not there long enough top take. Why? Because the insurance companies bill anyone with insurance as much as they can.

And yet all that billing takes away from your "lifetime" limit.

God, the sheer freedom of being back here in the UK is amazing.

Of course, if I were not a Person with AIDS, at my age I would know almost nothing of this.

I do, in fact, think David Cameron personally understands what the NHS gives those of us who are ill. But I do not get that impression from many other Tories.

Final Point: I had THE VERY BEST health insurance in the US - I was employed as a professor ("lecturer" is the more honest UK term) by the state systems in NY and FL. As a result I got fine healthcare, but never did I get the sheer luxury delivered by BUPA.

Optimistic Cynic said...

Sean Haffey,

"For years I have been told that "the NHS is the envy of the world". The response by some Americans has come as a huge culture shock."

Go and look at our cancer recovery rates and compare them with almost anywhere else. The USA does better. France does better. Poland does better. Malta does better.

People really need to get over themselves about the NHS in this country and take a serious look at it. We tried throwing money at it and barely got anywhere, and it's time for a serious re-assessment of the structure of it.

Anonymous said...

"Currently their level of debate is **you have socialised health care -you will have terrorists streaming through the door. Those foreign Muslim Doctors can't be trusted!****"

No, not really. But you can carry on with that nice little strawman of yours that you've built if you want.

Also, look up MSNBC and some of the shit they've been spreading.

JuliaM said...

Fancy that.

No comment from CanvAss or DesperateLiberal, who were dropping little turds in every other thread about why Iain wasn't writing about this...

JuliaM said...

"There should be a more vigorous defence of those who have legitimate criticism. Labour are just trying to close down debate."

At least they aren't sending union thugs to beat up and intimidate dissenters.

Yet!

trevorsden said...

"we should obsess about the nations health not the NHS" so says your headline.

But obsessing about the NHS is what all the anti NHS posers here are doing. The NHS infrastructure is deeply embedded after 60 years. It cannot be ripped up and if we did it would cost needless money. No one should say it cannot be reformed or improved - indeed this is one of Blairs failures and Brown has pumped money into an unreformed NHS.

Obsess about getting the best out of the health system we have and about winning the next election.

fyoc said...

@ Anon 1501: Loving your spelling of bureaucratic......

John said...

Iain : the NHS belongs to the people who work in it. It is a a service which provides what suits it and panders to its staff, not what people need or want.

It is a monument to political vanity and en election time punch bag. Its primary aim is to meet defunct Socialist ideology, not peoples' medical needs.

The NHS is over-staffed at all levels and grossly and chronically inefficient. Fire 40% of staff, and spend the money on quality of service and meeting patient needs not pandering to "dedicated" doctors and nursing "angels" - bin the sentimentality.

Better still:- Introduce market forces and compeition.

1. Privatise provision of the service.

2. Follow the French model - Sate reimburses up to 70%, patient pays the rest or buys top-up insurance. People on very low incomes get 100% reimbursement.

Doctors hospitals only get money if people go to them.

The profit motive gets everyone's attention.

Anonymous said...

Iain, great post. We love you. Thanks for being there. :-)

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:06
"No, not really. But you can carry on with that nice little strawman of yours that you've built if you want."

Watch that Youtube clip with Cavuto. That is the level of argument - scaring people.
No doubt MSNBC are insane - but I would be surprised if anyone could top Fox.

labour for the few said...

it was the same when the uk press slavishly followed new labour whilst it spent the country to bankrupcy.

depressing drivel from the labour cabinet.a recent report has the uk below african states for government efficiency and output.

this country is in a worse state than in 1979.

Anonymous said...

"No, the NHS isn't perfect, and Dan Hannan has pointed this out using some fairly lurid language."

NO ! It is not just 'lurid language' he has told some flat out lies. Some of the points may have had validity 10 years ago, but that was before a lot more money was pumped in.

The fact that you are unable to condemn Hannan shows you have some sympathy for his anti-Obama approach. Not that I agree that anyone who doesn't completely and without any criticism endorse the NHS is 'unpatriotic'.

But honestly, telling fibs and being the 'useful idiot' of $h!ts like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity shows your stripe pretty clearly.

Anonymous said...

"It is not a total failure..."


Gee, you're all heart Iain.

'Withdraw his insulin, nurse..'

No Society said...

Thats more like it Dale

Iain Dale said...

This has generally been a good thread, but I must pull up anonymous at 3.48. You accuse Dan Hannan of telling lies, but fail to identify what they are. Unless you state categorically what they are all you are doing is indulging in puerile politics.

So come on, put your money where your mouth is.

fyoc said...

@Anon 325pm : When did Gio learn to use a computer?!!! ;-))

Anonymous said...

I should declare an interest here. As a patient of the NHS for 60+ years I could report both triumph & disaster.

I have the normal Brit passionate devotion to the NHS, as conceived in its orignal form. Nobody should be ill, or die, because they can't afford health care. I don't have the slightest objection to paying tax to achieve that.

But it is never that simple. Once government gets its sticky paws on anything, PC considerations come into play. Our NHS was originally conceived with all the right intentions, to cure the sick, or look after them if the condition was terminal.

Now, it funds IVF, tattoo removal with laser treatment, transgender operations, boob jobs, nose jobs, vagina reconstruction for errant Muslim girls scared to death of not producing the right amount of blood on their arranged wedding night. And a host more stuff I could quote. They are lifestyle considerations, they have no place in an NHS dedicated to preserving health and saving life and they should not be a burden on the taxpayer. But they are. And because of it, life-saving/prolonging drugs are refused to many who could benefit from them. Rationing. We can't give you that drug, it's too expensive, we have to fund all those IVF treatments & nose jobs and they are more important than giving you an extra bite at life.

I'm actually not a great advocate of prolonging life in old age, I'd like to go before I become a dribbling bit of uselessness, and I will make sure I do, but that is MY decision, it shouldn't be a State verdict.

I love what the NHS should stand for, I hate what it actually stands for.

Anonymous said...

Iain, I should hope that you afford the armed forces more than just your respect. Service personnel are laying down their lives in the name of their country and as such could do with your loyalty and appreciation as well. They do far more than just provide a public service.

Anonymous said...

Well the Tories could do a Macmillan-Scott, you cheered that one Iain.

The Mail's take.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1206264/Browns-Tweet-nothings-NHS.html

Iain Dale said...

Anonymous, you are right. My point was about the facile use of the word "love" in this context.

Anonymous said...

I care a great deal about the NHS. I was born with a disability and had to have many surgeries as a child without which I would not be alive. My parents were all set to move to the US until my Dad's employers could not cover my medical insurance. Health treatment based on ability to pay is anti-human. Could the NHS be improved? Absolutely and it has been over that past few years and needs more improvement. I know, I use it a lot! Hannan was wrong to say he wouldn't 'wish it on anyone'. It saved my life and if I had been born in a country without such a system I may very well not be alive today. Sorry if I seem 'hysterical' to some but the fact I am alive is pretty important to me.

Plenty said...

never ceases to amaze me how the NHS is used to try to denigrate the Tories.

My post on the NHS is here , http://www.plenty2say.com

John Green said...

Seems the smug arrogant Tory isn't dead after all, what a suprise.

They have just started rearing their ugly heads a little early me thinks.

Best to wait until after the election before getting too cocky.

Cameron's honeymoon period will be very short, he will have difficulty holding his fractured party together.

Can't wait to see it all unravel!

Havocman said...

Guido's got a few interesting pieces of information about the Twitter campaign.

Osama the nazarene said...

Excellent post as far as it goes. It lays out the outline of where the debate should commence, unlike the stupid NuLiebor approach of love and hate for the institution.

What is patently clear is that the Conservatives will have to provide a far more efficient direction for this institution which NuLiebor has corrupted with money. Brown and Blair borrowed huge amounts to throw at the NHS leaving our offspring to pay off the debts and deepening the recession. Into the bargain they managed to enrich the likes of Larry Ellison of Oracle with the monstrosity of a centralised database. (Centralisation, the first step to totalitarianism, runs through the veins of every socialist.)

The priority will have to be medically driven, pruning whole swathes of bureaucracy introduced by NuLiebor.

As for the dentists I suspect that there is an element of self interest here by the dental profession. A closed shop would you believe. Open far more training places or bring more dentists from Poland.

Emma Bee said...

Davy boy has had a pretty tough week all told.

From his cross dressing shadow chancellor to the rise and rise of the smug arrogant Tory bully boys.

Oh don't you just love 'em.

With the economy picking up and the FTSE rising is it possible the Tories might yet grsb defeat from the jaws of victory?

Anonymous said...

I love Ben Brogan !!

Unless he disses Daniel Hannan for being a t!t..

In which case I hate Ben Brogan !!

Anonymous said...

Iain, You did ask. Here is one of his lies.

"HANNAN: I mean, the thing that you may find hard to believe is that you go along and you say, I need a hip replacement. Or you, know, I need treatment for prostate cancer. And they will say, thank you, the queue is over there. We'll see you in October of next year or whatever it is. I mean, it's unbelievable.

People are left in pain in pain, in positions where they can't work, where they're losing income at the back of the queue, waiting for permission to get treatment. And there's nothing you can do about it."

Labour have reduced waiting times and life expectancy in Hannan's backyard has gone up. Of course I wish it were better, and there are problems - but simply painting this inaccurate picture counts as a lie for my money.

Anonymous said...

And Iain, do you honestly think this is a 'fair, accurate and balanced' view of the NHS without any political slant or bias ??

"HANNAN: And you know what, all the countries of Eastern Europe tried it.

If you go back to the 1980s, the British health care model was not as unique as it now is, because it was shared by Czechoslovakia, Eastern German and Poland and others have dismantled it, because part of the democratization process was of that was to get rid of the NHS-type system and replace it.."

Anonymous said...

The NHS is bashed from piller to post in the press all the time.

This is one rare occasion where people have got behind it and you wish to continue bashing it.

Everyone is critical of the NHS, I've never met anyone who thinks it perfect. What Hannan was doing was not debate or fair criticism though. It was just childish ranting.

Anonymous said...

Interesting response from Cameron..."quite eccentric views"...that will go down well with the foamers on CH

Anonymous said...

"BECK: I can't — I can't imagine what Americans will do when they have to wait. I mean, we just put this up on the screen. Cataract surgery, you have to wait eight month. Hip replacement, 11 months.

You know, you may be free, but what's your quality of life?

HANNAN: Sure.

BECK: You have to wait for 11 months.

HANNAN: Sure.

BECK: Knee replacement, wait for 12 months. Herniated disc, five months.

HANNAN: And if you can't work during that period, then, you're losing income. So, it's not really free, is it? And, in any case, it's not free because you're paying for it through your taxes.

BECK: We just found out that — and God bless him. He's a — he's a guy I disagree with on, you know, on almost everything, and he is my senator. But I don't wish him ill. But we just found that Senator Chris Dodd has prostrate cancer. I'd like to make a challenge to Senator Chris Dodd to go over to your country and be treated with prostrate cancer.

Here in the U.S., five-year relative survival rate is 100 percent. In Canada, it's 95 percent. In the U.K., it's 77 percent."


Daniel Hannan is saying 'sure' to some four or five year old figures, and survivability figures are questionable if they do not include 'uninsured or uninsurable' people.

Anonymous said...

"HANNAN: It's Word War II, 1944. So, it was a time when we had food rationing, when everything had been nationalized, when he had hugely high taxes, you know, because everything had been conscripted into the war.
That was the product — that was the thinking that led to the state health care system.

I find it incredible that a free people living in a country dedicated and founded in the cause of independence and freedom can seriously be thinking about adopting such a system in peacetime and massively expanding the role of the state when there's no need."

Tell that to people who cannot afford healthcare or cannot get coverage due to a 'pre-existing condition'.

This is very mis-leading stuff and is just designed to play into the hands of corporate interests that want to frustrate the democratic will of the people who voted in favour of health care reform, by voting for Barack Obama.

bladerunner86 said...

Does Iain Dale agree with Dan Hannan's comments about the NHS and does he endorse his views?

Iain Dale said...

Bladerunner, can you actually read? I despair.

Carlton said...

Paul Halsall said...
Iain,

"Just suppose you become HIV+."

Paul Halsall how did you become HIV+?

bladerunner86 said...

I did ask this question yesterday and I didn't get an answer.
So again i will ask you.
Do you endorse Dan Hannan's views?

golden_balls said...

I'm sure i recall you and others in the rightwing blogesphere parading Hannan as the future of the conservative party only afew short months ago.

Sadly he's let the cat out of the bag. the majority of tories believe every word Hannan uttered thats your problem you try to potray the party as one thing and its working according to the polls.

If labour can use this to create more divsions between leading conservatives with othr policy issues then the election might not as one sided as many expect.

Why hasn't DC called DH in for a nice chat reminding HIM what the tory spin i mean policy is for the NHS ?

Iain Dale said...

Well if you are too thick to read this article and not know the answer then heaven help us all.

bladerunner86 said...

But you haven't actually explicitly said you do not endorse Dan's views Iain.
I think to use the word 'thick' and accuse one of your readers of not being able to read is an insult.
You wouldn't like it if the shoe was on the other foot you pratt.

So you refuse to answer my question Iain? - how pathetic.

I don't think you understand politics at all.

Stronghold Barricades said...

I agree with pogo

As a long term user of the NHS I can only say I wish someone would destroy and rebuild it from the ground up

Iain Dale said...

So I am supposed to answer a double negative. Grow up. Read the article. My views are quite clearly outlined. If that's not good enough for you so be it.

Soho Politico said...

Heh. Debate about the future of the NHS is one thing. But it's just myopic to say that those who have reacted badly to Hannan want to silence such debate. Hannan's approach to politics takes far too many leaves out of the book of the nutty American right: it is all about gaining support by peddling misleading horror-stories about the opposition, and policies you don't like. Hannan's claim that the NHS leaves the elderly to starve to death, and Sarah Palin's claim that Obamacare would mean compulsroy euthanasia for her Downs Syndrome son are of a piece. As I have been arguing on my own blog, Hannan is first and foremost a culture warrior:

http://sohopolitico.blogspot.com/2009/08/how-to-stoke-up-culture-wars.html

Anonymous said...

Sack Hannan. He has no right representing the party in any guise. His far right wing, free market policies are of a different age, and not appropriate for today's conservative party. His views chime better with the UKIP, but he is too ambitious to join them, so the tories have to put up with his self aggrandising. Cameron can show is mettle and sack Hannan now.

Paul Halsall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adam Smith said...

Iain why will you not answer bladerunner's question.
He/she is only asking you explicitly to state whether you support or not what Hannan said. What's wrong in that.

I support what Hannan said and would like to see the NHS privatized and left to market forces. It would be a lot better.

Jimmy said...

"what exactly is Hannan supposed to be sacked from? He doesn't hold a front bench portfolio."

Did McMillan-Scott?

norman said...

NHS is a holy cow and Labour Party made it. The BMA which opposed creation of the NHS opposes any changes to it when it is clearly demonstrated that they improve patient care. If your GP is a good, it works reasonably well otherwise, the gate keeper becomes the gate shutter. Brown poured money into an unreformed health service and John Reid doubled GPs pay without demanding more work from them. Now with NHS direct, Swine Flu line, locum service outside hours etc.. etc.. my GP is laughing all the way to the bank not doing much work..
If I can be examined by Lord Darzi at my home and can have my kidney stone removed next day, I would praise NHS just as Lord Sleaze does. There has to be Universal Health Care and NHS fits te bill except that the Labour Party never had the courage to modernise it. NHS is not holy cow nor a religion. Because of the problems it presents which in my experience almost took my life and put my family in danger when they had problems too, we have a family private medical insurance for such situations. It is expensive to have this having also paid the tax. We could have avoided this had the cash followed followed patients.
There was never an honest dialogue
about NHS and its funding as the Labour shied away from it. But then as with education when the Labour leaders and MPs send their children to selective grammar schools and oxbridge, I have seen a few of them in Harley street clinics. They were not there to come and chat to the eminent professor of medicine about NHS I can assure you!!!

Olly said...

Hannan has put Cameron in a very compromising position if he is not careful.

Cameron is right to come to the defence of the NHS and I applaud him for doing so. However we all know the Conservative Party is a broad church and Cameron might have to deal with the fall out from it.
There will be people from the right who will question the underlying principle of the NHS will others will debate upon its delivery.

Personally I think that Dan Hannan needed to specify more that it was his own views, and not the views of the Conservative party.

There will always be criticisms of the Tories record on the NHS and some of those records will of course be good and bad. But one thing remains a constant is the fact the NHS has always been a continuing principle the Tories and Labour wanted to keep.
I believe domestically the mainstream debate will radiate more about service delivery rather than its founding principles.

Anonymous said...

The US Republicans are laughable. They want to increase the ridiculous defence budget in the midst of a recession and supported the continued waste on Lockheed's pointless F-22 taxpayer raping fighter jet.

Their beloved Pentagon can't account for 25% of its budget and has lost trillions.

America's health system is a sad joke; amoral health insurance companies who screw their customers, pharmaceuticals who pump children full of addictive drugs. Its a corporate cartel which screws ordinary Americans.

Anonymous said...

This was a beautifully written, impassioned article and I was with you all the way until: "It [NHS] is not a total failure, but contains within it systems which are failing. It is the duty of politicians to point those out, react to people's concerns and come up with solutions."

The single biggest problem with the NHS is constant political interference and meddling.

wv: mismshly

Anonymous said...

iain dont be so disingenous about Hannan - we all know he could be "sacked" - ie the whip taken from him. And thats exactly what should happen to him. Cameron needs to deal with tories like him - and if he doesnt the party will be infected with such types spouting their idelogical diatribes - and Cameron will spend his time in office fending off his right wing. best to deal with them now, if he doesnt he will be accused by the left of being 'frit'

Democratic Socialist said...

Why is Cameron refusing to get rid of Dan Hannan?
Why will he not even match Labour's commitment to health spending?

Sarah said...

Iain Dale said...
"Well if you are too thick to read this article and not know the answer then heaven help us all."

Iain why do you have to be a patronising idiot at times?
It does let you down and will be your own downfall.

Jamie said...

I'm a Brit living in America, and now working in the gong-show that is the US Congress. I have to say I'm horrified by the standard of 'debate' in America.

The problem with what Dan Hannan said, is that it was entirely partial, pretty misrepresentative and was said to Glen Beck - the man who has just been abandoned by a bunch of sponsors because his show is so bizarrely warped.

The 'debate' on healthcare in the US has descended into to anarchy. People are being terrified by lies and deliberate misrepresentations that are spread about healthcare and the NHS. Instead of waiting to hear an explanation, they are screaming at each other. When lies about people like Ted Kennedy and Stephen hawking are bandied about, it is surely right that someone step up and correct them.

I really appreciate that you are talking about the NHS in rational terms. It's a shame that Dan Hannan decided to play to the peanut gallery. Clearly people in Britain object to a British service being unilaterally attacked by foreign commentators - that is why I think they started the twitter campaign.

If you live by youtube you have to be careful not to die by youtube. In my opinion the interview on Fox news was akin to slagging someone off behind their back. I really hope people want to have a constructive debate about the NHS. But that debate should be carried out in Britain, not on American media outlets.

I do object to the government jumping on this bandwagon, but I can't really blame them when they were given such a gaping open goal by the stupidity and ego of one MEP.

Some day I hope there can be a rational debate on the NHS, but as America is showing, it won't be helped by importing lies and exaggeration from abroad.

Sorry to ramble, but if you had to sit through the crap that the American media puts out every day, then I imagine you might be as frustrated as I am.

norman said...

NHS should remain solely the deliverer of free healthcare service and should not be a BMA protected organisation, which it is now. Just listen to the BMA chairman and his patronising comments.
I was disappointed that the shadow health secrtary and the Tory leadership did not support strongly Lord Darzi's idea of super GP clinics (the Germans have them) which go a long away in providing flexible services at flexible hours to the patient. The BMA again successfully derailed it because it threatened their members powers as the hospital gate keepers. Gone are the days when the GP was a family physican. My GP is a friend
and he knows us well, but it is not the same case for my work place colleague.

Steve M said...

There is continuous debate about the NHS. Where have you been Iain? Pick up the newspapers on most days and there is criticism about it. The change over the last 10 years has been huge with more private involvement and choice. The debate is there. When listening to many rightwingers they often say the NHS is good but it won't last in the coming years. This is a softener to say well really I don't believe in the NHS and when the Tories get in we shall demolish it.

Jimmy said...

"Why is Cameron refusing to get rid of Dan Hannan?"

For the same reason that he went through the whole EPP/Kaminski farrago. He is afraid of the right. This was not a one off incident. Hannan has been an accident waiting to happen ever since his youtube celebrity went to his head. He has been mouthing off about the NHS in the US for months knowing perfectly well how much trouble he was going to cause back home. Hannan was daring Cameron to do something and he bottled it.

Jerry Hayes said...

At last people have finally sussed that Hannan is an over rated loose cannon. If you wnat a very well researched, no holds barred critique of what is right and what is wrong with the health service, with comparisons of the European and American models, plus a costing of the alternatives, have a look at the Health Select Committee report of the late 1980s. It was chaired by Frank Field and I was very proud to be part of it. It debunks all the myths about insurance based schemes being the cure all. Ironically, in Europe and the USA there is far worse rationing than in the NHS.The insurance companies in the USA are utterly ruthless in what sort of people they are prepared to treat and with what sort of drugs. Obama is right and couragous to try an reform a system where 15% of the population receive 3rd world care.

norman said...

The Labour Party supporters will grasp any straw to cause a dent in the Tory poll lead. They are thus desperate and they know that their party is heading towards oblivion.
As for the Lbour Party's support of NHS, Blair and Brown skirmishes
missed the one chance of reforming the NHS before the money was poured in.

My MP on the left of the Labour Party who I know reasonably well failed to recognise me in a Harley Street clinic!! The same MP sent his sons miles away to a selective grammar school, had private tutors all for the purpose of sending them to Oxbridge while prasing our constituecy sink state schools and post-92 university ( former polytechnic).

Now as for NHS, 12 years of Labour has not improved it overall judging by my experience and my friends'. The model was good for postwar period and as it became more centralised employing more people than Indian Railways, some decentralisation should have taken place . Lord Darzi was not supported by his masters and BMA
played the politics to keep its icy hands on NHS. If succeeded Lord Darzi's improvement would have incorporated the best elements of European healthcare delivery at the primary care level.

Lord Lavendon said...

Your post is a good one, but I just cannot bring myself to engage the left on this one. They are just like a pack of wolves if you challenge the status quo because the NHS is sacred to them, so you don't get into debate just a horrible slanging match.

Unsworth said...

@ Bladerunner

"I think to use the word 'thick' and accuse one of your readers of not being able to read is an insult."

Indeed. Surprising it took you so long to come to that conclusion.

"You wouldn't like it if the shoe was on the other foot you pratt."

Is this some sort of 'insult' then?

"So you refuse to answer my question Iain? - how pathetic."

Nobody is obliged to answer any question you may care to dream up, are they?

"I don't think you understand politics at all."

What have your ravings got to do with politics?

Unsworth said...

@ Sarah

'Patronising'? Pots and kettles. Are you, too, in the business of controlling free speech? You don't like how people comment? How very unfortunate.

This is a blog, not a bleeding nunnery.

Iain Dale said...

Norman, would you email me privately with the identity of the Harley Street MP?

Martin said...

The NHS sucks. Stinking rotting hospitals, the likelihood you will come out in a worse state than you went in (if the bastards don't kill you) staff who don't care and managers who are useless.

And we pay for this crap?

peter_dtm said...

I suspect that anyone who has experienced 'foriegn' medical care should be aware of two aspects to the NHS :

It is better than government ('free') medical in 3rd world countries.

Compared to Medical Insurance models - it stinks !

So - are we a third world country - in which case - yes the NHS is superb

OR

Are we a 1st world country - in which case the NHS needs to be taken out and quietly put down and replaced with something that WORKS

Neil A said...

I have seen both US and UK healthcare in action. My sister-in-law died of cancer, slowly, in Florida. Both of my parents died in NHS hospitals and my fiancee has had two NHS operations in the past year. I would say that whilst the quality of care in the US was good, the method by which it is financed is totally flawed. In a nutshell, getting seriously ill (even with good health insurance) will bankrupt you. The quality of care in the UK varies from poor to excellent, but at least you have the peace of mind that falling sick isn't going to lead to you living in your car. But basically Iain is right. It is not the NHS itself which is dear to our hearts, it is the principle that healthcare is delivered free at the point of need. There are many ways to do that, and a monolithic government-owned corporation isn't the only way. Unless you're a socialist in which case it's the only way to do anything.

Anonymous said...

And so what started with Iain calling for a proper debate on healthcare descends, eight hours later, to Iain just wanting to get gossip on a polital opponent for pure ad hominem advantage.

Lord Lavendon and many others on here claim that the left wants to shut down any debate on the NHS, yet it seems to me that they are only interested in playing the victim, complaining about potential debate being stifled rather than actually having that debate.

Me, I seem to be more interested in complaining about those that are complaining that we aren't having a proper debate.

I wonder how many lives the NHS has saved in the last eight hours

Windsor Tripehound said...

cymrumark said...
The fact remains many in the Tory party are anti the NHS for ideological grounds.


Complete and utter bollocks!

Kate. said...

Excellent analysis, great piece of writing.

Verity said...

RE Cameron and Landsley - "They have spent a long time re-establishing Conservative credentials on the NHS" - so what, Iain? So what if you've spent "a long time" dragging your bottom on the floor like a puppy with worms?

How does that count?

Verity said...

Anonymous 2:11 wrote, the fact is that many people do: people take pride in the NHS and feel great affection for it;"

Many women stay with abusive men. Go figure.

strapworld said...

So People love the NHS.!

Do we love the wait, for up to a month, to actually see your own GP.

The GP used to take my blood (I am a diabetic) for tests, now I am sent to the hospital- which means another journey and another day!for that same blood test to be taken. Progress?

If your doctor decides to send you to hospital to see a consultant you have to wait. In my case for sleep apnea fourteen months. For replacement knees six months.

Then, if the consultant believes an operation is necessary you will have to wait anything from another six month wait upwards for the operation.

Your drugs for your condition are controlled by NICE and also by your postcode.

Hospitals are still suffering from MRSA and will always be so. Yet the administrators reside in splendid accomodation.

Those of you who cannot accept that statement should visit the Department of Health, All the Regional Health HQ's, All the HQ's of all the NHS Quango's and the HQ's of the Trusts themselves.You will be absolutely disgusted. THAT is where our money is wasted.

I have nothing but praise for the nurses and doctors. Yet I never once saw an administrator, in the two occasions I was hospitalised for my knees. No Chairman or Chief Executive or Non Executive Board member.(Something I did very regularily when I was a trust chairman.)

The NHS needs reforming. I am, though, appalled by David Cameron and his treatment of Daniel Hannan. Hannan was just repeating his belief, which he wrote in his book (co authored with Douglas Carswell) THE PLAN.

Indeed Cameron has 'borrowed' huge trunks from that book for 'his' policies and there was no need for his bullying tactics towards Hannan. Who is one of the very few politicians who think ahead.

Cameron made this story bigger than it should have been by his rather hysterical outburst.

Quietzapple said...

Re your request for what Daniel Hannan could be sacked from, Iain:

Dan Han stayed out of the Tory Euro-whip so he could slag off Gordon Brown after this:

"The head of EPP-ED, Joseph Daul, telling Hannan to "come outside...you can’t say that", responded by initiating proceedings to expel Hannan immediately.

'Daniel Hannan left the EPP-ED on 19 February 2008. He sat, for the remainder of the five-year term as a Conservative without pan-European affiliation' - WIKI

It is not credible that the limit of Cameron's paw is to call him "eccentric." And of course Daniel will strike again.

Dan Han writes for the Daily Telegraph (Dully Tele is so much better expression of what that august organ is about) and has an influence possibly greater than Cameron's own, for his leadership is mostly following the new a-political folk who don't like politicians.

Cameron is running scared, he must be shaking at how much ground he has lost. His pre consummation honeymoon is over and the wedding likely will not happen.

iain, ni said...

August 14, 2009 4:15 PM

Best comment of the lot.

Dave calls you out. said...

"I will not stand by and see the NHS and its brilliant staff denigrated and undermined, whether that's by the right wing in the United States or by their friends in the British Conservative party, "

David Cameron.

I think many people here should reflect on this. Put party before your student politics and ego.

Cynic said...

Ben who?