NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 14, 2007

Five years on from his seminal report for the Treasury -- which paved the way for the 50 percent real increase in the United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS) funding since 2002 -- Sir Derek Wanless published a review of how the extra £43 billion (about U.S. $86.5 billion) has been spent, says the Independent.

It would be difficult to plough an extra £43 billion into the NHS and not get something back for it, but there still remain several problems, says Wanless:

  • The NHS has gotten less efficient and is facing a bigger burden from the lifestyle problems of obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise.
  • Though the extra cash has bought extra services, there has not been a big enough bang for the buck.
  • Productivity is the big disappointment -- the NHS looks as if it is less efficient than it was.

Further, high pay rises for doctors and nurses have made matters worse, says Wanless:

  • Doctors in particular have had eye-watering rises of 25 percent for consultants and 23 per cent for general practitioners under their new contracts.
  • The scale of these increases and the bigger than expected growth in NHS staff has contributed to declining productivity.
  • To take one example, between 2000 and 2006, the number of patients admitted few per consultant fell by more than 20 percent and the number of emergency cases by 8 percent.

Tony Blair's mantra about the NHS was, "No extra cash without reform," says the Independent.  Wanless's report shows that the cash has been provided -- sackloads of it -- but reform is still awaited.  By throwing money at the problem, the government turned the NHS wheel faster -- but only produced more of the same.

Source: Jeremy Laurance, "The Big Question: What is to show for the extra £43bn spent on the NHS in the last five years?" The Independent, September 12, 2007.


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