The latest major study, published this week, by the highly-respected, independent USA-based Commonwealth Fund says the NHS is the best healthcare system in the world.
The international panel of experts - analysed quality, access, efficiency, equity and health outcomes – confirmed NHS care is superior to other countries which spend far more. The NHS came first for quality, access and efficiency despite spending the second-lowest on healthcare among eleven countries examined.
Only New Zealand, at £1,876 per head per annum, spent less than the NHS’s £2,008; while the USA spends more than twice that at £5,017.
You might expect this good news to be plastered all over the national media. You would be wrong. Only one national newspaper has mentioned it. There are lots of other health stories in the papers, as usual about bad news or problems.
However they never tell us that NHS bureaucratic and administration costs are lowest of any developed country’s healthcare costs.
Let me be clear that I do not support a single penny being unnecessarily spent on bureaucracy. But I have no time at all for those ‘populists’ who shout that it would be better if we ‘cut administration costs to spend on doctors’. Do they seriously think that we’d have better health outcomes if doctors booked their own appointments?
Many challenges remain. We need to do more on prevention to address our significant health inequalities. The growing number of elderly requiring care is a major concern and most people want to remain at home not in hospital. We need to ensure patients can continue to access hard pressed GP services. Addressing these issues will ultimately mean extra spending and we need an open and honest public debate about this.
I think we are doubly-blessed in Sheffield. We have some of the very best of the NHS, across the wide gamut of health provision, within the world’s best healthcare system. That’s why we should continue to resist the government’s proposals to cut Sheffield’s health resources by some £40m pa to transfer it to areas in the south-east where people already enjoy better health and longer life expectancy.