Despite “adequate or average” funding, our waiting lists are much higher than average. Even communication is failing at a basic level…

Despite “adequate or average” funding, our waiting lists are much higher than average. Even communication is failing at a basic level, more in keeping with an African 3rd world country. The emperor has no clothes..

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Chris Smyth reports in the Times 10th August 2017: NHS funding matches most of Europe’s health spending

Britain is spending “about what might be expected” on the health service according to analysis which questions claims that the NHS is starved of cash compared with other countries.

Spending on health matches the average in other western European countries and those who call for more money for the NHS can no longer rely on the argument that Britain is spending less, economists said.

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However, to match higher spenders such as France and Germany, health funds would have to increase by £24 billion a year, conclude John Appleby, director of research at the Nuffield Trust, and Ben Gershlick, economics analyst at the Health Foundation, in The BMJ.

Concern that the NHS is short of money has increased as waiting lists and queues in A&E lengthen and treatments ranging from IVF to hip replacements are being rationed.

Those demanding more money have often used the same argument as Tony Blair, who justified a big increase in NHS funds in the 2000s on the basis that spending was below countries such as Spain and Portugal.

However, technical changes implemented this year to how international spending is measured mean more social care funds are now counted, raising Britain’s health spending to 9.9 per cent of GDP for 2014, instead of the 8.7 per cent previously estimated.

The £20 billion increase means Britain’s health spending is now about average for the OECD and 14 other mainly western European states who joined the EU before 2004 and comfortably above countries such as Spain, Portugal, Italy and Finland.

Professor Appleby and Mr Gershlick write in a blog: “The UK is spending what we would expect given its wealth . . . How much we should spend on healthcare is still a live and important debate, but the argument that we should spend more simply because we spend much less than the rest of Europe isn’t enough any more.”

Countries tend to spend more of their GDP on health as they get richer, with each $1,000 increase in wealth per head linked to a $120 increase in health funds. By the adjusted figures, the UK spends $3,675 a year per person on health, well above the $1,870 for each person in Greece, but the Netherlands spends a third more per head at $4,857.

Professor Appleby and Mr Gershlik stress that matching the average is not in itself an argument against more cash for the NHS. If voters want more comprehensive services that might require higher spending, they suggest.

Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, clashed with the government over health spending earlier this year, telling MPs Britain should be aiming higher than countries such as Mexico.

Henry Bodkin in the Telegraph 10th August reports: Waiting lists for routine NHS treatment such as hip and knee surgery longest for a decade 

Dennis Campbell in the Guardian: NHS patients waiting for hospital care top 4m for first time in a decade

BBC: Surgery waiting numbers highest in decade, says NHS England

BBC: Thousands of patient follow-up letters not sent to GPs

This entry was posted in A Personal View, Commissioning, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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