The Tories like the US healthcare system

And Simon Johnson, Scottish Political Editor at the Telegraph, likes a liar. Let me explain.

The Health and Social Care Bill will become law. The Tory love for the US healthcare system is based on its profitability to people like them rather than to its effectiveness. The Health and Social Care Act is intended to increase the NHS costs and decrease services.

This graph shows on the left side, the proportion of GDP spent on healthcare for each country. On the right, the average lifespan for that country. Consider also that at the moment the US does have a kind of NHS – restricted to people over 65 – and that conservative governments (and their propaganda machines owned by Murdoch) have been trying to restrict access to it further. The thickness of line connecting the two represents the number of doctors’ visits a person makes per year. Take a look at where the US line goes. That’s where the Tories and LibDems were voting us to go yesterday – and consider that while Andy Burnham promised to repeal the Act when Labour came to power, in 1993 John Prescott promised to renationalise the railways. We need those independent MPs.

Spending, lifespan, and doctors visits

The US system is very competitive. Based on a free market. Very profitable. Very expensive. And very ineffective for keeping people alive and well.

In yesterday’s Telegraph, attempting to divert attention from the Conservative and Liberal Democrat destruction of the NHS in England (and perhaps also from this news story) their Scottish Political editor wrote a story about NHS Lothian.

NHS Lothian has been guilty of unethical practices to make its waiting times look good. They have been offering patients treatment at English hospitals, and

When they declined, they were not included on a list of people not treated within statutory waiting times. In other cases, patients’ medical records were retrospectively altered to falsely show they were unavailable for treatment.

How do we know about this? Well, because the Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, acting in her capacity as Health Minister, ordered an external review of NHS Lothian, carried out by PwC, covering the period from April to December 2011. Her reaction to the report was what you’d expect:

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, Miss Sturgeon said the practice was “completely unacceptable” and ordered an investigation into the health board’s management culture.

“My reaction to this report is one of disappointment and considerable anger. Waiting times guarantees matter. I will not tolerate the manipulation of them,” she told MSPs.

“What angers me about NHS Lothian’s behaviour is not just that it’s a betrayal of their own patients – and it is – but it also undermines the reputation of thousands of NHS staff members across the country.”

Although the “clear majority” of patients were treated within waiting time targets, she admitted that a “significant number” were not but were excluded from the health board’s figures.

She said disciplinary proceedings are under way into what could be “serious misconduct”. The report found NHS managers put staff under pressure to find “tactical solutions” to waiting times rather than tackle the root causes.

Nicola Sturgeon is not responsible for an NHS Trust fiddling the waiting list figures. She would be responsible if she had failed to check the figures – but she ordered an external audit: if she had tried to conceal the news that a major Scottish NHS trust had been fiddling the figures; if she had tried to minimise or excuse the problem.

She didn’t do any of these things. It’s appalling that NHS Lothian has done this – it’s not embarrassing that Nicola Sturgeon instituted the review that found them out.

The notion that a politician should be “embarrassed” by clearly and publicly dealing with a problem? That just encourages Cameron-style cover-ups. Which Simon Johnson appears to admire, since he decries Sturgeon’s direct and honest approach as “embarrassing”. Evidently he prefers David Cameron’s strategy of hiring crooked staff and then delaying, denying, and avoiding the serious ethical issues.

Cameron also claimed of course that he would have a debate in the House of Commons for any e-petition that got 100,000 signatures. He still hasn’t kept his word for what’s now 177,297 signatures. (200,000 before the petition closes on 16th May?) Isn’t that embarrassing, Simon Johnson? Or would it only be embarrassing if he’d kept his word and had the debate?

Scotland’s NHS remains intact and “unreformed”. Perhaps Simon Johnson was just instructed to find some means of attacking the devolved NHS. Scotland’s NHS is a control group against which the English will be able to measure the damaging results of the Tory and LibDem vote. That isn’t likely to be good for either of the anti-NHS parties by 2015.

Nothing is going to make these reforms popular.

Who's for & who's against

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