Tuesday, March 23, 2010

NHS Spending Up, NHS Output Down -- Are We Being Warned?

So what do we have to look forward to Obamacare? One cautionary straw in the wind comes from the United Kingdom.

"The management of the NHS has been characterised by 'monumental incompetence'"-so declared Lord Norman Warner, to the left-leaning Guardian earlier this month. As reporter Randeep Ramesh explained:

Warner was behind the push for market-based reforms who by his own admission lost the fight with Gordon Brown, then chancellor, over how to make public services in health run more efficiently. "Gordon reverted to the traditional Labour line in health, which was to support the unions who are the paymaster of the Labour party in the runup to the election," he said.

But this meant putting off vitally needed change and left a gaping "productivity gap". "Between 1997 and 2007 NHS inputs – by that I mean cash – went up by 60%," he said. "But NHS outputs went down by 4%. Two thirds of the money we put in just went into pay."

A sixty percent increase in spending for a four percent decrease in output--that's not very good.

In the caustic commentary of Theodore Dalrymple, writing for City Journal, published by The Manhattan Institute:

No doubt the spending of a Soviet-style organization like the NHS is more easily measurable than its output, but the former minister’s remark certainly accords with the experiences of many citizens, who see no dramatic improvement in the service as a result of such vastly increased outlays. On the contrary, while the service has taken on 400,000 new staff members—that is to say, one-fifth of all new jobs created in Britain during the period—continuity of medical care has been all but extinguished. Nobody now expects to see the same doctor on successive occasions, in the hospital or anywhere else.

More on the NHS in the news here.

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