The need for NHS reform

Don’t just take my word for it – this is what the OECD (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) thinks of the NHS.

OECD Health Data 2011 released on 30 June 2011, offers the most comprehensive source of comparable statistics on health and health systems across OECD countries. It is an essential tool for health researchers and policy advisors in governments, the private sector and the academic community, to carry out comparative analyses and draw lessons from international comparisons of diverse health care systems.They looked at clinical outcomes – the sort that interest patients – and found just how far down the NHS sits in the international league tables of Western countries:

Infant Mortality:   25th out of  34 countries
Ischemic Heart Disease Mortality:  21st  out of  34 countries
In hospital Ischemic Stroke Fatality:  23rd out of  27 countries
Breast Cancer 5 year survival:  16th  out of 20 countries
Breast Cancer Mortality:  24th out of  31 countries
Cervical Cancer 5 year survival:  19th out of  20 countries
Colorectal Cancer 5 year survival:  18th out of  20 countries

Courtesy of DailyMail: Overpaid NHS doctors and too few practitioners 'knocks three years off Britons' lives'

Their 2011 report also finds that the NHS is the seventh most inefficient health system in the OECD. If the NHS spent money as wisely as many other OECD other countries, UK life expectancy could be up to three and a half years higher. It also found that Britain has more avoidable deaths than our European neighbours.

Lawrence Speer, of the OECD said, : ‘In the UK, healthcare spending is above average, when compared to other OECD countries and the OECD average, but the volume of various health indicators is below average.The UK has fewer acute care beds and high-tech equipment like scanners than other OECD countries. It also has fewer doctors and fewer doctor consultations per capita.The OECD report also shows that infant mortality rates in the UK are one of the highest, and the life expectancy – particularly among women – is one of the worst.

The UK spends as much as other countries on health services, but its GPs and consultants are more highly paid. GPs in the UK now receive an average of £106,000 – almost double the amount paid to French GPs, even though their health system is among the best in the world. If the money spent on doctors’ wages were spent instead on, for example, more cancer scanners, then fewer people would die prematurely.This appalling conclusion is contained in a study by the OECD, which represents 30 of the world’s most industrialised nations.

We are quite shamelessly being mislead by the NHS mantras that we’re lucky to have it, envy of the world etc when the reality is that internationally, it is a laughing stock and produces some really poor benefits for patients for the £100 billion a year taxpayers put into it. This is why the NHS must improve, and the Bill is one step towards doing that.

According to the OECD health spending tends to increase internationally by around 1.5% per year over the long run, because of growing and ageing populations as well as the higher inflation rate of medical processes. If that long-run international pattern applies to Britain over the five-year period, the additional real spending required would increase by 7.7%.

Spending 2010-11 to 2014-15, £bn
2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15
NHS (Health) 103.8 105.9 108.4 111.4 114.1

However, the bill has faced stiff opposition from the general public. Many will argue that the aforementioned low hospital productivity did not give the whole picture. The Conservatives are propagating a “myth” about declining NHS productivity to justify the coalition’s reforms, a Department of Health adviser has claimed.

Professor Nick Black of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine used an article in the Lancet medical journal to attack the “widely accepted fact” that the NHS’ productivity had fallen in the past decade. Professor Black explicitly criticises the Tories for propagating a myth that NHS productivity was declining to create a false justification for their health and social care bill. To justify the reforms to the NHS that the Conservative party wanted to introduce, the claim of declining NHS productivity was necessary. Declining NHS productivity in England between 2000 and 2009 is just one recent myth in healthcare policy.

The fear is reform of the UK’s health system will have to be a slow and labourious project that will take decades – and further billions wasted – to accomplish.

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