An unhealthy health service?

UKIP’s West Sussex County Council opposition leader and parliamentary candidate for East Worthing & Shoreham, Mike Glennon, considers the unhealthy health service.

UKIP County Leader, Mike Glennon
UKIP County Leader, Mike Glennon

Free Lunch – Who cooks it? Who pays?

My wife has been a nurse for several decades and my mum also served over forty years in the National Health Service. But you don’t need family members on the inside to know that things aren’t quite right in the NHS nowadays.

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Before we address a few home truths, though, let’s consider a few philosophical honesties. I asked a sample of friends recently what the NHS is for. Not surprisingly, they said it was to provide free health care. Sounds absolutely right, but actually completely incorrect. The NHS is there to provide health care; there is no such thing as free health care – or free schools or free lunches come to that.

What we treasure as a nation is the concept of health care free at the point of delivery – and quite rightly all political parties, including UKIP, are committed to that premise. The real issues are who does pay for it and who provides the actual clinical services.

As for who pays, the answer is simple; the Government pays, but of course we provide their tax revenue. The free bit wanes a bit at this stage perhaps? Anyway, the Government then decides upon whom or what will provide the services and this is where the whole debate becomes contentious.

Efficiency - private versus public

A wide range of public services over the years has been committed into the hands of private sector providers. The list is too long to recount here, but Governments of all persuasions have indulged it, the prime argument always being that privatisation brings a more efficient and competitive service. At this point I have to ask rail commuters to stop laughing – or are they screaming?

In reality, there is no reason why public-owned organisations cannot be equally efficient and they don’t have to carve off large slices of their surpluses to feed profit-hungry shareholders.

Let’s just focus on our crumbling NHS. The present junta at Westminster prefers to see increasing privatisation of clinical services and recent proposals to outsource the musculo-skeletal services at Worthing and Chichester hospitals to a privately-led consortium are consistent with this ethos.

But after private organisations have creamed off attractive profit margins to satisfy their investors, the amount of money actually directed at clinical services has to be smaller than it was before – unless of course somebody wants to pump in more money and, in these austere times, it’s unlikely to come from any part of Government. And we don’t fancy providing it ourselves, do we?

The gamble, therefore, is that a private organization is so blisteringly efficient that it can deliver a better end service for less money. Time for free lunch, do I hear?

So how can real public sector health provision hit back? Well, there are still big inefficiencies in the NHS and my inside contacts tell me regularly of the resources they see wasted, in terms of materials, staff time and energy. Mindless, extravagant, unnecessary bureaucracy is the killer. Moreover, the plethora of back-office jobs created to accommodate politically-correct dogma is woeful. Marketing people, public relations types, equality & diversity advisors, policy gurus, ad nauseam. They need to go in large numbers, but that would take a degree of political courage unknown among our existing political elites. In any case, much of the bureaucracy is inflicted upon us by our EU masters in Brussels and they certainly have no appetite for dismantling it.

But these issues must be addressed radically, if we are to retain efficient public sector health care provision.

The associated problem with outsourcing ever more services, is that it undermines the financial economies of scale of those services which remain. It is a bit like a confectioner finding that another retailer has carved off his ice cream sales on Monday, then his soft drinks on Tuesday … come Saturday his chocolate sales are insufficient to support the business. Of course, that doesn’t worry the commercial predators, who are smacking their lips at the thought of devouring the NHS entirely.

This is the reason why I am wholly opposed to more outsourcing and I believe that as private contracts expire, services should actually be brought back into the NHS proper.

NHS – What does N stand for?

What we must all bear in mind, though, is that the “N” in NHS stands for something rather important.

A National Health Service only really works when there is such a thing as a Nation. The wholesale efforts of the EU and its Trojan Horses in Britain are to break down nationhood, whereby Britain is open to half a billion EU citizens to come and settle here whenever they please. In other words, this is not a sovereign UK, it is just an open province of the European super-state.

The vast ingress of settlers puts huge strain on infrastructure. People turning up and expecting the full largesse of the British National Health Service the moment they have picked up their first pay cheque is untenable. I have been paying in to the system for three and a half decades. The idea we can give free services to those who have hardly contributed at all is risible and the net outcome plain to see. Burying one’s head in the sand is, of course, an option (and one passionately embraced by some folks).

UKIP believes that those arriving in Britain should be required to provide evidence of current, valid private health insurance. If they need non-emergency health care, they must finance it through their own resources, as you find in most other countries around the world. I have noticed consistently a reticence on the part of Government at all levels to identify the amount of NHS resources that could be protected in this way. One is given to wondering why.