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'I love the NHS more than you'

Laura Kuenssberg | 14:52 UK time, Friday, 14 August 2009

As some of you have pointed out here, the political noise around Daniel Hannan's comments has thrust the NHS into the spotlight. But rather than trying to engage in any assessment of where the health service works, and where it doesn't, it seems both of the main parties are vying to be seen as the more devoted fan of the NHS.

nhs_ap226.jpgLabour is clearly enjoying this recently-rare chance to stick the knife into the Conservatives - they believe that the massive online defence of the NHS shows that they're on the right side. The health service is tribal for them.

And the Conservative leadership is so determined not to be seen as the enemy of the health service that some of their comments today read a bit like NHS fanmail!

One recent poll showed the Conservatives and Labour equally trusted to run the health service: David Cameron doesn't want to throw that away. But with both sides engaged in such a black-and-white argument, I wonder whether either is really achieving very much.

Update 1617: Central to this transatlantic furore is David Cameron's determination for his party to be seen as a safe pair of hands for the health service. So how has he done? And has New Labour's spendfest on the NHS paid off politically?

Here is some intriguing evidence from the pollsters Ipsos Mori about who voters think has the best health policies. The numbers relate to voters who name health as an important issue.

mori_nhs226.gifIt shows a real slide in support for Labour's policies - from 62% in 1995, down to 31% in 2007 (the way the poll was done changed in 2008). That was during all the time that the NHS was seeing a massive increase in its budget.

That's mirrored by a steady rise in the belief that the Conservatives have the best recipe: from a tiny 8% in 1995 (an extraordinarily low base), to a healthier 20% in 2007.

Interestingly, that is very slightly lower than it was when Michael Howard took the party into the last general election. And although it's certainly higher than it was back in the late 1990s, it's nothing like the level of support this particular group of respondents gave Labour in the years before the 1997 landslide.

I would emphasise that this is just one set of poll results from one group of people - but nevertheless a fascinating snapshot.


  • Comment number 1.

    "I wonder whether either is really achieving very much."


  • Comment number 2.

    Its unfortunate for Cameron but i've been reminded of the rumours that constantly circulated during the last tory government that they had plans to ,essesntially, privatise the NHS.

    It may or may not have been true back then, and policy may be very different now, but if people start to remember the old rumour its going to lose them votes. I think Hannans just handed Labour an absolute gift, something that resonates with and disturbs the public far more than the threat of possible spending cuts.

    I bet when Cameron woke up yesterday he didn't think that by the end of the day a lone tory MEP would have stuck a huge knife in the back of his own party...

    Expect lots of negative campaigning on Tory plans for the NHS in the run up to the general election

  • Comment number 3.

    Whatever people think of what Daniel Hannan has said, it's probably correct to point out that if you started out today to design a system to meet the health care needs of a nation you would NOT end up with the NHS. Nor would you end up with the US system.
    What you'd end up with is something in between probably. Health care provided free at the point of need, paid for by insurance, the premiums of which are increasingly met by the state the lower the income you earn. Minimum levels of primary and secondary health care would be set by the state and delivered by the private sector.
    It's just a pity in this country that any sort of debate on health care has to start with a statement that the "NHS is safe in our hands" or some other nonsense. All options should be debated and the pros and cons of each should be assessed independantly.

  • Comment number 4.

    The bright eyed public have cottoned on to the disunited tories.


    Come on! Hannan is just saying what the tories believe.

  • Comment number 5.

    All options should be debated and the pros and cons of each should be assessed independantly.


    How very unpatriotic of you.

  • Comment number 6.

    This issue does seem to be getting an excessive amount of coverage. One Tory MEP who most people had never heard of until a few months ago when he ripped into Gordon Brown has made a comment against the NHS and New Labour and some sections of the media are trying to portray it as if they have proof that the Tories will strip the NHS and sell it off lock, stock and patients to the highest bidder.

    I can't help thinking about what exactly is being buried by this story!

  • Comment number 7.

    A debate at last on the billions wasted by this labour government over the last few years.

    Their record is abysmal so I don't know why they are so gleeful that someone has actually criticised the NHS.

    It is with us to stay for there is no feasible alternative but it is an out of control monster that badly needs reform.

  • Comment number 8.

    Just as Bertrand Russell said, "I do not believe in belief", I do not believe in the NHS. Nor, by the way, do I disbelieve it.

    As many people have said, the NHS is the only mainstream religion left in the UK.

    We should use an evidence-based assessment of the NHS to debate its strengths (and there are a great many) and its weaknesses. Sadly Labour think they own the NHS and view any attempt to reform it as heresy. Since the public don't like heretics I suppose Cameron is correct to worship at the NHS altar.

    I remember a Labour minister on BBC's Question Time saying that the NHS was the mark of a civilised society, and being roundly applauded, thus confirming that the Great British Public still consider the (superior) health systems of France and Germany to be somehow barbaric.

  • Comment number 9.

    Nothing large is run as a form of efficiency. Should we trust the financial services industry to run healthcare? There was some private sector model for all to much exactly did this all cost? Bureaucracies by their very nature are inefficient. Education and educational levels of staffs, turnover, peaks in demand and the general inability of human beings to manage large organizations without corruption in one sort or another, and let us not forget about political interference and how elected officials want something built that is not needed for their own area or trying to influence who gets what levels of care and private sector vendors over-charging for products. Healthcare is what it is and the efforts to make it better will be never-ending and that is not such a bad thing.

  • Comment number 10.

    What is it with the Tories wishing to shoot themseleves in the foot? First we had Alan Duncan and now this clown MEP Hannan.

    Unfortunately, Cameron is showing the first signs of being a weak leader by allowing these two fools to remain members of the Conservative Party. To say they allow free speech is a cop out.

    I don't know what the policy is with MEPs. Can they be deselected like an MP can be? If he can be deselected, Hannan should be given the boot without further delay.

  • Comment number 11.

    It would appear that it is not just the majority of the electorate, but also the majority of bloggers here do not understand the extent to which the NHS has already been privatised already through the PFI schemes. What is worse is that the standard of build regularly fail to meet the bare minimum of "not fit for purpose".

    The debate over privatisation of the NHS is dead - it has already happened. More and more of the vast sums of taxpayers money earmarked for the NHS, is being diverted to pay for the new PFI hospitals. Daylight robbery has been perpetuated on the public. PFI means build now and pay later, in other words take out a big loan and pay back the loan sharks many years down the line.

    Have you heard the one about the altruistic loan shark? No? Me neither.

  • Comment number 12.

    Who is this John Prescott chap that gets mentioned is it the same one that was having extra marital affairs at tax payers expense ???

    Labour rolling out failed career politicians is going to do nothing but harm to there laughable attacks on a guy that when he decried the efforts of gordon brown was dismissed by labour as a fringe politician,but now is elevated to policy maker for the Tory party.

    It must be irking Mr Prescott that the once nailed on Lordship he would have got if labour were electable is slipping from his grasp,and the antics with tax payers money that he and his compatriots got up to has ,and will never be forgotten.

    There has to be change in the NHS and it is being forced more quickly on us,by a government that has destroyed the economy with no oversight,continued the policy of removing manufacturing to foreign shores,and having an open door policy on immigration that means they cant even tell us how many people are in this country.

  • Comment number 13.

    Once all the initial emotional outbursts are out of the way, we will have a rational debate about the NHS. Spending must go up due to the aging population (250,000 people over the age 100 by 2050). The question is, who do you trust to reconfigure the NHS to deal with this reality?
    Labour have wasted 12 years going full circle back to the way the tories left the NHS in 1997.
    My money is on David Cameron especially with his personal background in using the NHS. And despite attacks from his own side about ring-fencing and increasing the health budget in real terms he has stood firm. That shows leadership, not GB jumping on a twitter fad that will pass in days.

  • Comment number 14.

    As with the state run education system, there appears to be no room for the truth in the political world about the NHS.

    Several years ago down in New Zealand, I read an article by a health professional who stated that the NZ and UK NHS systems had the worst outcomes in the developed world.

    I doubt if that has significantly changed in the so-called UK's NHS system in the intervening period, despite the colossal amounts of taxpayers money thrown at it.

  • Comment number 15.


    Perhaps you could explain why you barely (if at all) report the comments of MEPs, yet are giving Hannan's so much publicity. Is it lazy silly season reportage or just because he's a Tory?

  • Comment number 16.

    It is becoming more and more apparent that Labour are going to continue to use this as a sickening and innappropriate attempt to force DC onto the defencive.

    Instead of attacking the catalogue of errors inflicted on us by the current government, he is defending some quasi controversial comment made by someone of little political relevence.

    Once again we are subjected to cheap political tricks when the bufoons at the helm should be being held to account.

  • Comment number 17.

    according to my (impeccable) sources, senior management in the NHS are actively planning for a 5 pc real terms cut in the health budget over the three year period 2011 to 2014 - and that's regardless of who gets into power (although I imagine the assumption is the Conservatives will) - this is not a contingency position, it's expected - I kind of conclude, therefore, that all of this "who loves the NHS the most" is a little bit for the birds - especially from the Tories who (I would have thought) will swing the axe with a little more gusto

  • Comment number 18.

    Who let D Barker out of the cupboard!!!! I remember Blair claiming that the country only had 24hrs to save the NHS, here we are umpteen years later and it still needs saving. One of the main problems with the NHS is the amount of money paid to those in charge and wasted, as my farther used to say if you want to know where the money goes look in the executives car park. Millions could be saved just by good housekeeping, Labour (and people like D Barker) should realise this. Mr Barker could you tell us why executives working in the public sector should be paid more than the prime minister?

  • Comment number 19.

    Got lock off the other blog on this subject so will try here,
    My opinion for what its worth Ask your selves just where has all the money gone?That nu labour supposedly have spent on the system Possibly on quango mangers ? Cleaning contractors? equipment? Mr Cameron will have to get ready with the sheers on that first group alone Or was it dirty wards that were killing off a few only a short time ago? Or perhaps the patients sent long distances for treatment in other post code areas

  • Comment number 20.


    I am very glad that "people" love the NHS more than someone else.....

    =Dennis Junior=

  • Comment number 21.

    #4 derekbarker wrote:
    "Come on! Hannan is just saying what the tories believe."
    What Hannan appears to have said - and I'm surprised Derek that you didn't find time to give us a critique of his book on health care reform when it was published last year - is that the way health care is provided in the UK could be improved. You, me and the Tory high command can all choose whether or not to agree with his ideas but you must see that no improvement can occur in any field unless someone challenges the status quo.
    Talking of fields, I'd be interested to know whether you think Tony Blair was right to sack Frank Field for doing what he was asked to do and "thinking the unthinkable"?

  • Comment number 22.

    I've not really seen anything on these blogs about what the government are actually planning regarding the NHS.

    Everyone is getting very excited about the comments of one MEP (how many of his critics on here have actually read properly what he actually said?)who is not actually part of the government now, or even when the tory win the next election.

    It's not like the NHS is pefect now, and plenty of people on here seem to suggesting that. The excellent Royal Hospital Haslar in Gosport has just closed. We still have the postcode lottery. Hospital acquired infections are still killing far too many people, the recent scandals of some hospitals where people have actually died due to managemnt practices, government targets distorting clinical priority decisons, and the NHS is still generally a haven for many professional management and bureaucrat types who would would be unemployable in many walks of life, and a government who measures it's success soley by how much money is spent and not on what value is created by it.

    Enlighten us all please what are the CURRENT government going to do to address these issues ?

  • Comment number 23.

    Rather than talk about rising unemployment, the wrecked economy, the massive government deficit, the war if Afghanistan, the remuneration of bankers and other critical issues that matter we have a political class having a huge debate about the NHS.

    Is it about funding the NHS, reforming the NHS, changing the NHS? No; its because the American health lobby don't like the NHS. So what? Who in the UK cares what the Americans think about the UK health service?

    There are things wrong with the NHS and there are things right about the NHS. However without an economy that produces added value the NHS will not be adequately resourced. This is the problem with a taxpayer funded service: it first needs taxpayers with money available to pay their taxes. This is why the NHS has such a chequered history: we often don't have the money to pay for the service we would like. At least that was until Blair came along and used funny money to fund it. We are now paying for that funny money with unemployment and a collapsing economy.

    Without taking the economy into consideration there is no NHS, no public services. So why isn't there debate about the economy?

    Elephant in the room or what?

  • Comment number 24.


    Yes, you're right about PFI.

    More generally, the mission of the NHS is clearly first-class medical care, but it's also a (not-for-profit) business. It negotiates contracts with thousands of suppliers (from drug companiess to computers to cleaners to waste-disposal and no doubt to paper-clip suppliers). It manages nearly a million staff and associated contractors. It requires diversity managers, accountants, lawyers, negotiators, estate managers, and no doubt thousands of other occupations that we could hardly think of.

    There should be huge scope for improved delivery and /or cost savings in all these areas and it is perfectly legitimate for the Conservative Party to raise these issues.

    Finally, the previous Conservative Government raised NHS spending by 3% a year without bankrupting the country in the process.

  • Comment number 25.

    "Whatever people think of what Daniel Hannan has said, it's probably correct to point out that if you started out today to design a system to meet the health care needs of a nation you would NOT end up with the NHS. Nor would you end up with the US system."

    And given that the guiding moral principles of the NHS are unparalleled throughout the rest of the developed world - i.e. healthcare free at the point of delivery for everyone - how badly does that reflect on how society has changed since the 40s?

    The NHS has flaws, but, morally, it is the right thing to do in keeping it going. It is so important to the fabric of British society, that we simply could not live without it. The majority of Brits, who are pretty much guaranteed free [or rather, 87% state funding on average, which is the highest anywhere in the world] healthcare for life given the staunch opposition to scrapping it both publicly adn politically, have experienced the benefits of the system for 60 years and know that it works for the most part for most people.

  • Comment number 26.

    #4 derekbarker

    Disunited Tories? - And pray tell how many ministers exactly was it resigned from the 'united' Labour party quite recently for errr not being united with the great leader? People in glasshouses.....

    Hannan is one lone MEP in the wilderness, your comments far from asking valid questions just emphasise the sad state of your own party and British politics in general.

    There is an issue with the NHS, Labour have trashed the economy quite comprehensively to a point where we will struggle to afford the overarching NHS model your party wishes and which has become the default position of all parties. I don't think the Tories will manage it either but I think they will be better placed to save what can be saved instead of being in denial about it.
    It is sad but it was your leaders who have ensured it will be this way by failing to rebuild a sustainable wealth creating base in this country.

    Your party could in 12 years have actually ensured it's survival as a completely free egalitarian model as we all might wish. Instead of commiting it to huge future costs (PFI) and imposing an administrative burden it struggles under by constant fiddling with it and top down targetting. Your party could have established a model to rival the best in Europe, but instead to conform to hide bound ideologies and vested interests your party botched it.

    The NHS is as safe in Tory hands as it is in Labour hands.

  • Comment number 27.

    Central to this transatlantic furore is David Cameron's determination for his party to be seen as a safe pair of hands for the health service. So how has he done? And has New Labour's spendfest on the NHS paid off politically?

    A-1) To a outsider eyes and perspective a very OK job....

    B-2) Maybe, it is working but, it can do with more improvements.....

    =Dennis Junior=

  • Comment number 28.

    #14 JohnConstable

    "UK's NHS system" - There isn't one. There are four very similar ones, but they vary in their management structures.

    It would be interesting to know which is most "efficient" in terms of the % of the total budget used for management and administration of these different systems, but I can find little on this - just that in Scotland these were 6.75% in 1995-6, but had dropped to 5.4% in 2002-3.

    Has anyone got access to recent comparative data?

  • Comment number 29.

    FellowCuckoo @ 21

    I have been an admirer of Frank Field's political independence for a long time.

    However, in the Alastair Campbell diaries, Campbell states that Field got the chop because he was'nt up to the Ministerial job and had produced a very poor quality paper that had to be rewritten by others.

    They (Campbell/Blair et al) probably sensed that Field was going to be trouble and wanted him out anyway, but there it is.

    Another one bites the dust.

  • Comment number 30.

    haye @ 16

    Instead of attacking the catalogue of errors inflicted on us by the current government, he is defending some quasi controversial comment made by someone (Derek) of little political relevance

    yes, well that's the trouble with all this partisanship, isn't it? - I remember telling you, back when he made his "blistering attack" on Gordon, that Hannan was a jumped up nobody - but oh no, you weren't having it, were you? - according to all you cl ... er supporters of the Conservative Party, he was the bees' knees ... the best thing since sliced ... and was now a major player - seem to recall some people musing about him even replacing Maximort as Leader - so I've got zero sympathy, I'm afraid - as John Holmes will tell you from where he now looks down ... live by the sword, you die by the sword - this guy Hannon has the potential to be the Tories' very own Sarah Palin, with all the electoral consequences which that implies

  • Comment number 31.

    Sagamix wrote:

    according to my (impeccable) sources, senior management in the NHS are actively planning for a 5 pc real terms cut in the health budget over the three year period 2011 to 2014.

    Strangely, I wish Labour had actually spent more on Health then.........

    After a decade of denial about public investment, the opposition have actually finally opened up to promising to spend even more on Hospitals but the problem is they won't be able to do it. Too Late I'm afraid.... Hague, Duncan-Smith, Howard all said the investments of the last decade weren’t needed and were a huge waste of taxpayers money...

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    #3 makes some excellent points. I am a passionate believer in the principles on which the NHS is founded, but I'm also quite prepared to believe that the NHS as it currently works is not necessarily the best way of achieving those principles.

    Sadly, there is something about the NHS that makes it very hard for politicians to engage in rational debate: it very quickly seems to degenerate into simple slanging matches along exactly the lines of the title of this blog.

    It also annoys me that politicians of all parties seem completely unable to utter the "R" word in public. The NHS can only exist if there is some form of rationing: that's a fundamental law of economics if it doesn't have infinite resources. Politicians' failure to admit that rationing exists is responsible for the completely random and unfair rationing that we currently have. If rationing could be debated sensibly, we would end up with much fairer decisions about which treatments are provided and which aren't.

  • Comment number 34.

    First off, let me just say, that as an American and from personal experience, that you all have no idea how lucky you are to have the NHS!! Never let misgivings, or lamentations, or doubts about it make you think for one second that perhaps it should be massivly overhalled or worss still, that it was a mistake setting up in the first place. Of course anyone with a grane of sanity doesn't honestly believe that Hannon represents the majority view of your Conservitives, much less the majority view of your public toward the NHS!! But still I thought I'd express my views on this.

    That being said, however, I would also like to add that I am personally utterly shocked that a foreigner, but especially a Britain, has wheeled out the "unpatriotic" accusation to level against an opponent!!! Up until today, I had only known the tactic of accusing someone of being unpatriotic to be indicative of Republicans in my country, by noone else anywhere in the world!!! Its just so utterly childish!! Every reasonable, lojical, sane person knows that criticising and making suggestions for the betterment of one's country is what keeps improvement ever flowing forth, and that in fact, it is the seaseation of such criticism and objections, that could truely be the most "unpatriotic" thing to do, because it allows for dictatorial policies to slowly creep in, steadily destroying what makes a democratic nation great. Have to say, I am very, very disappointed in Labour!!! I know that it is a firmly held view among many Brits that compared to British politics, American politics is litterally insane because of the Republicans desperate and selfish tactics, and in many regards I disagree, but in this regard I am in total agreement!!!

  • Comment number 35.

    oldnat @ 28

    I did read your previous blog comment about the four NHS systems and I'm afraid I was just being lazy by grouping them as the "UK's NHS system".

    My central point was that blind political dogma does untold damage, particularly in health and education, when the systems are not producing effective outcomes.

  • Comment number 36.

    err just a minute, hanann is not a member of the shadow cabinet, he is not even an mp, so why is the media giving what he says so much attention and pretending it must be tory policy? the vast majority of the UK electorate couldnt even name their euro mp thats how important to UK politics they are... all we see is the media once again doing mandelson's work, they have been itching to get back at hannan ever since his recent total demolition of Gordon brown. The words of an euro mp are not tory party policy any more than the words of the french communist euro mp are the policies of the socialist group he sits with...

  • Comment number 37.

    excellentcatblogger. . .

    "So what next? Are we now just one step away from religious crazies bombing abortion clinics? The UK certainly has no shortage of religious crazies in the political arena, do we?"

    Actually I haven't heard of any, so I think you need not worry about any such crazys infiltrating your political process any time soon like "The Family" has done here, and further more I think you should thank your lucky stars that you have so many rational people in your political arena.

    "In the previous blog I indicated that UK politicians should not enter this debate. I have not changed my mind. The fact is that both sides of the US Health debate will twist an innocent statement out of its original context to suit their own ends. In the US media an UK politician will not have the right of rebuttal, like they could with the BBC say."

    What are you talking about!! Yeah your right, we don't believe in free speach here. Be honest now!! If Hannon believed his comments to be twisted out of context, he could have, and I believe should have said something!! Now whether our respective selfish political parties would have listened to him is another matter, but he and anyone else is most certainly entitled to the "right" of rebutting a statement or accusation!!!

  • Comment number 38.

    "17. At 4:05pm on 14 Aug 2009, sagamix wrote:
    according to my (impeccable) sources, senior management in the NHS are actively planning for a 5 pc real terms cut in the health budget over the three year period 2011 to 2014 - and that's regardless of who gets into power (although I imagine the assumption is the Conservatives will) - this is not a contingency position, it's expected - I kind of conclude, therefore, that all of this "who loves the NHS the most" is a little bit for the birds - especially from the Tories who (I would have thought) will swing the axe with a little more gusto"

    sagamix, this is because they read the 2009 budget and the 2008/9 pre budget report that states athe goverment accross the board will be cutting spending by 5-7% over the 2011-14 period.

    The two things that are really shocking are a) that G.Brown and Darling keep denying what the budget states and b) that even with the 5-5% cuts the 2009 budget stall has a massive shortfall which it says will be resolved "closer to the time". Again no new from Brown about this either!

  • Comment number 39.

    #35 JohnConstable

    No problem, but my central point was that politicians can really only decide on structures and the level of funding.

    Since the core of the systems are so similar, there is an opportunity to look at the efficiency of each management structure, to help illuminate the separate debates over each of our systems. That might help to dispel decision by dogma.

  • Comment number 40.


    Petrol up 2p next month and another 2.5p in December when VAT reverts to 17.5%!

  • Comment number 41.

    Laura could we have a discussion on how well Gordon's "we will do everything necessary" plans are working, QE,vat cut,etc etc....I see the government admitted on through its “Mortgage Rescue Scheme”, one of its flagship policies to prevent repossessions. Strange the BBC does not regard this as news but cant write enough about Hannan....

  • Comment number 42.

    The issue shouldn't be about who will chuck the most money at the NHS, but who will spend the money most wisely.

    Priority should be given to treating patients, not funding more and more layers of bureaucracy.

    Post code lottery for treatments and medication must end. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) should be disbanded and replaced by a body that understands joined-up heath care. For example, the decision of the useless bean counters at NICE to prevent people with early stage Alzheimer's is demonstration of short-term penny pinching. Giving people the medication at an early stage postpones the time when they might need expensive full time residential care.

  • Comment number 43.

    At No. 22 today, question, "How many have actually read just what Daniel Hannen has said?" From reading 30 or so blogs, the answer is very few; or some that have will twist/spin just to make anti-Tory remarks.
    Hands up those that have heard of Douglas Carswell MP? Does the removal of the previous Speaker ring any bells? Hannen and Carswell between them have written many political articles concerning, Primary elections, Updating the NHS, (not privatising) and numerous other matters that appear to me to touch on matters relevant to today's political scene.
    I believe that until you have had fundemental, recent,experience of the NHS operating for the non-paying sector, then one is unentitled to comment on the Scheme. I live 50 miles distant from parts of my family. Part A has received excellent treatment, but has to travel a 30 mile round trip for any treatment outside of GP's remit, the latter is very good and appointments are relatively easy to come-by.
    Part B cannot get any appointments, let alone treatment from local PCT hospital. To compound this, GP appointments are virtually unobtainable, to get one, the applicant has to go on hands and knees (verbally) to a gate-keeper posing as a receptionist. Therefore it follows that treatment is non-existant. The only saving grace, if it can be referred to as such, is that GP's surgery is within walking distance, the hospital can only be reached by car, public transport, is 3 buses, that barely operate after 8pm and not at all on Sunday.
    Those of you that live in London and other major conurbations are lucky, healthwise, the hospitals are fairly close and there is public transport. The whole system needs modenising, with the NHS as just one part. (Read Lord Hanningfield's suggestion on uniting patient transport with Council transport).

  • Comment number 44.

    I am starting to wonder where freedom of speech has gone in this Country. If Hannan believes the NHS is not fit for purpose, why should he not say it if this is his view. It does not mean others have to agree with him.

    We live in a bubble in this Country in order to avoid the actual truth. A great deal of the money thrown at the NHS has been wasted on pay rises for staff and managers not on the patient. It is not the best service in the World or anywhere near, for the money spent. In other words, there are better health systems around the world that offer better value for money.

    The NHS would work if the original objectives were employed, that is to stop people dying of preventable illnesses not the all emcompassing service it has become. If we continue in the same vane, demand will always outstrip government investment and in times of recession there is a real danger of the system becoming bankrupt.

    However I have never known the British to face up to uncomfortable truths, that is why we are in the current mess we are. The NHS like immigration, has now become a "no go area for comment" which is ridiculous.

    America is a huge Country and if we think the state run NHS is a bureaucratic nightmare, think what it would be like in America if they adopted Obamas ideas!

  • Comment number 45.

    Disunited Tory's someone wrote? How disunited can a few nu lab-our mps get when they are stating they will not be standing at the next election i wonder why? is that perhaps they get the impression they will be surplus to requirements eh? Elephant in the room again? With all the cash put in to its very survival i didn't think it needed another transfusion to survive?But like a few more nulabours meddling has made things more difficult to put right overnight.

  • Comment number 46.

    Someone says: What is it with the Tories wishing to shoot themselves in the foot? First we had Alan Duncan and now this clown MEP Hannan.

    Quite right you are, except this looks like anti pasto, before we are presented with the main Tory menu, which until now is still a secret. As the election approaches we shall be entertained as the main meal is presented to us.

    Didn't Mr. Cameron congratulate all those MEPs that are now representing the new Tory agenda in Europe? Didn't Mr. Cameron state that the old Tory party is dead and is therefore being rejuvenated? Looks like it's going to be the NEW Tory ideologists against Mr. Cameron.

    So what is going to happen by election date? Kick half the Tory MPs and MEPs because Cameron does not agree (sic) with their extreme right ideology? No matter how much Mr. Cameron apologises, it still doesn't wash with the electorate.

    PR on it's own does not win elections!

  • Comment number 47.

    Even though Daniel Hannan's comments are his own, not Conservative policy, they have provided Labour with an ideal opportunity to cover up other bad news stories such as unemployment. However, Labour has also implied that the Conservatives will be the death of the NHS; this is disingenuous and prevents real debate about how the NHS can improve. Whilst there are many positive stories about emergency incidents and critical care, longer-term care issues remain a problem in terms of both support and funding.

    For example, why should NICE decide if someone can have a particular type of drug based on cost and deny its use even if a patient wanted to pay for it themselves without the threat of forfeiting NHS treatment? This gives the impression of a free and equal health service; equal in the sense that we must all receive the same treatment and not have an option to pursue a private alternative (without the loss of NHS support and consequent need to fund all of your treatment rather than "top it up"). This aspect seems to smack of politics and the denial of those who can afford to top-up their treatment, not pay for it all, the ability to do so based solely on the grounds that other less well-off cannot afford to do it; bear in mind the less well-off will already be receiving some treatment and vastly superior to the US system.

    It is time for a proper debate without reference to targets and increased "investment" but focused on patients needs.


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