Myth: The NHS is inefficient and unaffordable – it can’t go on like this
- International studies have consistently shown the NHS to be one of the most cost-effective health services in the world. It is accessible to all and delivers high-quality care.
- This is achieved despite the UK spending less of our GDP on health care than most European countries – UK: 8% of GDP, France/Germany: 11%.
- People who claim we can’t afford the NHS must answer the question – if we can’t afford the most cost-effective health service in the world, what can we afford?
Myth: The NHS budget is not being cut
- Since 2010 £20 biliion have been cut from the NHS budget, and cuts totaling a further £20 billion are planned up to 2020.
- Until 2010 annual spending on the NHS rose by an average 4.8%, which more than covered increased activity. Since 2010, the average has dropped to 1.2%, and is planned to fall even further over the next 4 years to 1.1%.
- This has forced major cuts in services; by October 2014 66 maternity and A&E units had been closed or downgraded and 8649 beds had been lost.
- This why so many hospitals are in deficit – they not being paid enough for the work they do.
- The deficits are now being used as the justification for another major top-down reorganisation of the NHS – Sustainability & Transformation Plans (STPs).
- STPs are likely to involve major cuts in hospital beds and other services.
Myth: The NHS is not being privatised
- Private contractors use the trusted NHS logo, so patients may not even know they’re receiving treatment from a private company.
- Large corporates such as Virgin and Serco now run 10% of our GP services
- Private companies “cherry pick” services seen as profitable. – typically elective surgery, community health and mental health – leaving complex expensive work to the NHS. Recent figures suggest they have won up to 60% of contracts in community and mental health.
- The commercial sector also hides behind ‘commercial confidentiality so that we the tax payers can’t find out the most basic facts about their costs, profits and outcomes
Myth: The private sector is more efficient and cost effective than the public sector
- Evidence shows that when private companies deliver care, costs increase and services may well get worse as the private sector typically cuts and/or downgrades staff and reduces the services on offer.
- The fiasco of hospital cleaning has shown the reality of privatisation: apparent short-term savings, but at the expense of lower hygiene standards, higher rates of hospital-acquired infection, the break-up of established ward teams and casualisation of the workforce.
- Other recent failures have included a contract for cataract surgery that had to be terminated after a few days because of disastrous outcomes, and the discovery of unexplained deaths in private hospitals delivering care to NHS patients
Myth: ‘Health tourism’ is bankrupting the system
- The government has encouraged scaremongering as a useful distraction from the real problem of £20 billion in cuts to the service.
- The most reliable figures suggest that unrecovered costs from treating foreign nationals account for less than 0.2 per cent of the NHS budget.
Myth: We are cutting bureaucracy and saving money
- For most of its life, the NHS had the lowest administration costs – about 6% of the total budget – but now money is being wasted on running the English NHS as a market, in which services compete rather than cooperate, and people commissioning services are legally required to spend scarce resources on expensive and lengthy tendering processes.
- As a result the proportion of the NHS budget spent on administration has increased dramatically, rising to around 15%. Running the English NHS as a market is estimated to cost between £5 and £10 billion each year.
- Large amounts of money are being lost through PFI, with the NHS getting about £11 billion in infrastructure for an eventual cost of over £70 billion.
- If we abandoned the costly and unnecessary market and dealt with the outrageous PFI debts, we would save billions for frontline care.
Myth: Patients now have more choice
- Now GPs are frequently constrained by the contracts they have with providers, and patients have less choice now than they did 20 years ago, when a GP could send a patient to any part of the NHS anywhere in the country.
- Many GPs are now given targets to lower their referrals to hospital.
- Referrals may pass through a management centre where they are checked and may be redirected by people with little or no clinical training and no knowledge of the patient.
- One in eight referrals is rejected altogether. (In the USA where this system is the norm, it is called “denial of care”). Operations once available from the NHS, such as joint replacements and hernia repairs, are increasingly being rationed or withdrawn.