Wednesday, June 8, 2011

David Cameron Commits to Keeping NHS Public

In a major policy address on healthcare and the National Health Service, UK Prime Minister David Cameron committed to keeping the National Health Service a keystone of Britain's public social safety net and, most importantly, to keep private insurance away from this public service.  Here are some highlights of this speech:
First, I've heard doctors tell me they want more choice on behalf of their patients, but they want to be sure that competition is introduced in a properly managed and orderly way.

Now I do believe competition is a good thing. But not as an end in itself.

It is a means to give doctors more choice to get the best possible care for their patients, and for patients to have that choice too.
Cameron is referring not to competition between private health insurance companies, but competition between healthcare providers, something the single payer advocates in the United States have always supported. What single payer advocates want to eliminate is wasteful for-profit health insurance.  The UK is well beyond our ridiculous system of private health insurance parasites.
If you go abroad, to Sweden, to Germany, to Spain, you will see lots of different healthcare organisations providing care paid for by the state.

And our NHS too has always benefited from a mixed economy of providers.
Indeed, £1 in every £20 currently spent by the NHS goes to a private or voluntary sector provider.
You notice who he didn't reference when he talked about foreign healthcare systems?  Yeah, The United States.  Our healthcare system is the envy of nobody.  It's a joke.

Cameron went on to say
I've heard something else loud and clear, from patients and professionals, who are hearing talk about savings and efficiencies and think it is all smoke and mirrors and what we're actually doing is making cuts.

Because other departments are making spending cuts people assume these changes are about spending cuts too.

They're not.

There will be no cuts in NHS spending.

Let me be absolutely clear.

This year, and the year after, and the year after that, the money going into the NHS will actually increase in real terms with £11.5 billion more in cash for the NHS in 2015 than in 2010.

I repeat: we are not cutting the NHS. In fact, we are spending more on it.

That is the promise we made. That is the promise we have kept.

And it's why every penny we save in eliminating waste and bureaucracy is going straight back on to the frontline. No ifs or buts.
This is what a government that cares about it's citizens looks like. American Exceptionalism? I think not.

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