The NHS: Time for a dispassionate look

If you believe the media, David Cameron supports the NHS, while Dan Hannan has gone out on a limb by criticising it.  But note the logical fallacy.  Note the implicit assumption, which is that if you support something, you should not point out — or even recognise — its failings.  This is the old “My Mother drunk or sober” fallacy.  You can love and respect an institution while recognising its weaknesses.  Indeed the more you love it, the more determined you will be to improve it.  Maybe Cameron and Hannan are not so far apart.
I was personally sorry that Cameron chose to attack Dan in the way that he did.  I would rather he had said “Daniel Hannan has done us a service by bringing the NHS debate into the open.  We recognise the failings in the NHS, and that makes us all the more determined to reform it”.  We’re all aware of the stifling bureaucracy, the waiting lists, the super-bugs, the dirty wards, the shortage of intensive-care beds, the patients kept waiting on trolleys in corridors to massage the government’s ridiculous targets.  And we recall the huge loss of cost-effectiveness as this government has hosed money at the system without reform, and without proportionate increases in outputs.  We do no service to the British people if we ignore these shortcomings and pretend that the NHS is still “the envy of the world”.
Then we have to define what we mean by the NHS.  If we mean a national health service delivered by the government and funded wholly by the taxpayer — the model we have to day — then I suspect that many Conservatives would have trouble supporting it, and certainly would not recommend it as a model for the Americans.
I take a “National Health Service” to mean a commitment to Universal Service free at the point of delivery.  That is what the British people love best about the NHS — the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you get treated whether you can pay or not (though of course there remain a range of treatments that are unavailable on the NHS and only available to those able and prepared to pay).  If we define our commitment in those terms, we are ready to start a serious debate about who delivers health care, and how.  And about how we fund it.  Many European countries (and although I hate EU integration, I am not too proud to learn lessons from our neighbours) deliver better health outcomes than we do, for comparable funding.  Many of them have hybrid insurance plus tax-payer schemes.  We should have the humility to study alternative models, to examine best practice, and to co-opt ideas that work.
The media are seeing the current brouhaha as an embarrassment for the Conservative Party.  We should see it instead as an opportunity.

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6 Responses to The NHS: Time for a dispassionate look

  1. Paul Furbank says:

    There is a HUGE difference between bringing an issue into the open for discussion and openly slating the NHS on an American television show in an attempt to suck up to the audience.

    Politicians like Hannan and yourself if you truly support him, are what is wrong with this country. There are simply to many of you middle class snobs sucking everything you can from the system!

    Good luck to both of you when trying for re-election as I guarantee that this will be dragged back up when the time comes. I know that I will not be alone in doing everything I can to get idiots like you voted out when the first opportunity arrives.

  2. James says:

    Have you read the blog post above or just jumped to your pre-conceived opinions before engaging your thought process.

    Are you suggesting everything in the nHS is fine. So what about all the people STILL trying to get a dentist. What about the postcode lottery where you get treatment in one area and not another.

    No – of course you will say everything is fine and anyone who may want to have a debate to improve things should be voted out.

    Well thought out Paul. Great comment!!!

  3. Roger Helmer says:

    Paul: Come the next election, you are welcome to remind my electorate that I drew attention to shortcomings in the NHS, and called for radical reforms to guarantee better standards of care. You might like to note that a new report today (Sunday Telegraph) points out that spending per cancer patient in Leicester and Rutland (in my East Midlands region) is only a third of that in the highest spending health trust. Would you like to try defending that?

    • Paul Furbank says:

      I am happy to see anyone that wants to cut red tape and review the NHS as a whole, particularly the administration of it. I would gladly watch any debates regarding the NHS and would love there to be a televised debate (USA style)about nothing more than the NHS before the next elections.
      But I say again. There is a HUGE difference between bringing an issue into the open for discussion and openly slating the NHS on an American television show in an attempt to suck up to the audience. If you truly approve of what Hannan did then you deserve to be voted out at the earliest opportunity as does he!
      There are just to many middle/upper class politicians out there that are to busy trying to figure out how to employ their wife, sons, daughter, old school friends etc.

  4. Alfred says:

    The long term damage might be to the Conservative Party. I don’t agree with all Daniel Hannan says but to call him an eccentric is a big mistake. Hannan talks a great deal of honest common sense as I believe that you do. David Cameron seems to talk honestly only when he thinks it falls in with the public mood, in my opinion. Honesty should always score above sucking up to the perceived views of the crowd.

  5. John Morton says:


    It’s about time that you, Mr Hannan, and the rest of the true conservatives ousted that idiot cabbage patch imposter Cameron.

    He will lose the next election for the Tories if he is not removed.

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