Why an American organisation thinks the NHS is wonderful

Lies, damned lies, and statisticsnhs

Various people, incluing Winston Churchill, Mark Twain etc,  have used this phrase to express disbelief in statistics and figures.  And it sprang to mind when the NHS recently bombarded journalists with emails quoting a report issued by the Commonwealth Fund of America (weird title!).

The Fund’s website says it helps “people become more informed about their health care and improving care for vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, low-income families, minorities, and the uninsured” as it says on its website.

Remember this is directed at American people, whom the NHS always assure us live in drread of medical bills;   they have to pay medical insurance, which according to friends is about what they paid in taxes in UK.

A curse on all their houses!

Then the invaluable commentator, Roy Lilley, comes up with “There are huge pressures in the NHS (but)… according to the independent Commonwealth Fund the NHS was rated the best healthcare system in the world…”

And, who said; “Coasting culture (in hospitals) kills patients.”

LaLite (Minister Jeremy Hunt)  said them both.”

In the meantime the Dept. Health Press Office was working overtime churning out self-congratulatory Press Releases. Totally ignoring the articles, supplements etc. coming out of the media, saying the NHS was in crisis.  But then that’s Spin Doctoring for you.

As Roy says, “LaLite has a three way problem. Saying sensible things about the NHS to the 1.3m people who work in it, who know the score about the flat-line funding, the overshoots on targets and problems with staffing. At the same time he has to sound like he’s tough, in charge and on top of things when responding to system and quality failures in the Daily Mail and his other fanzines. And, dealing with political criticism from the opposition and backbenchers. It’s a difficult triangle to square.

Despite all the efforts of the Health & S.C. Act to distance the Secretary of State from NHS operational management, Roy is convinced that  “LaLite is more hands-on than a Bangkok masseuse”. 

The fact that we never see him outside his office, whatever the NHS Scandal, to apologise to friends and relatives, probably has no beaaring on NHS problems.  And I wonder hen he is going to visit the NHS frontline in Wales, to see what is going on there. 

Andy Burnham’s speech to the Labour conference gives LaLite a special headache. Burnham advanced some solutions to fund the NHS’s shortfall:  an assortment of 36k more staff, a Robin Hood tax on posh houses, fag-taxes and wicked hedge-fund spivs hammered, creating £2.5bn.

Ignore, for a moment, the practicalities of property re-valuations, the lead-time in training staff (and Burnham’s numbers aren’t far-off what is already planned)… oh, and ignore the fact that £2.5bn (now revealed as an annual increase) is enough to keep the NHS going for a week… it looks good enough to obscure the real problem, the £30bn funding black-hole.

But fear not – the NHS has found funds to give GPs a bonus from £55 – £200 to diagnose patients as having Dementia;  no wonder mine wastes my time in checking if I have signs – rather than listening to what are my real problems.

In the meantime, whose idea was it to let politicians anywhere near the NHS in the first place?   But watch it – we are in for a spate of Photo-opportunities with prospective MPs dashing off to have their photos taken looking concerned in their nearest hospital.

You have been warned.

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