Saturday, 10 August 2013

Wasting money on the NHS

The Chancellor keeps wasting our money on vote-catching gimmicks, rather than using it to reduce government debt and so lower our extortionate tax rates. And now, after cosying up to homebuyers by throwing cheap mortgages at them (which will stimulate house price inflation), he has decided to pelt half a billion at our "national treasure" of a health service. But as John Redwood MP wryly recalls -

"One of my most poignant memories of being a Minister was trying to secure some benefits when I offered more money to the Welsh NHS in their budget ... I wanted them to appoint more Consultants, doctors and nurses to clear hospital backlogs and shorten waiting lists. As soon as I revealed I had found a substantial sum from other budgets to offer to the NHS, a vanishing trick started with plenty of other ways appearing to use or lose the money on offer without hiring more medical staff."

Expect a recruitment surge in administrators as soon as this latest splurge is gulped down by the gaping maw of the NHS quangos. As Redwood continues -

"The money we learn is to be given to a limited number of A and E departments that are under particular stress. That makes sense if it is the result of varied levels of demand compared to the size of the unit. It is less sure footed if it means more money is given to the departments and hospitals which have performed worse. There is a danger that awarding more money selectively can reward poor conduct and penalise good practice."

It is impossible to manage a bureaucratic monolith with targets no more realistic than those of a Soviet tractor factory. As I recently blogged, the NHS must be broken up and competition introduced into healthcare. And as for Osbourne, he should try CUTTING public expenditure for a change - it's been rising ever since the election.

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