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Samizdata quote of the day

When host Andrew Neil said survival rates for some cancers were worse in the UK than in Costa Rica and Brazil, Soubry responded, ‘And?’. When Andrews said, ‘The principle of universal access has been adopted by everyone, but the centralised bureaucratic system has not and that’s why they have better patient outcomes… Can’t we just look at these systems to try to get some better healthcare in the UK?’, Johnson replied, ‘Why?’.

As frustrating as it was to watch their cloth-eared reactions, it at least revealed the absurdity of what has now become the standard response from politicians when it comes to discussing the NHS. This abject denial of any problems within our healthcare system has resulted in the NHS being ringfenced from criticism. Today, criticising the NHS amounts to heresy.

Naomi Firsht

29 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • James Strong

    I wonder if this is on youtube. I would like to see it all, unfiltered by Ms. Firsht.

    ‘Today, critiscising the NHS amounts to heresy.’

    Unfortunately this is not a recent development.

  • jim jones

    I have been treated by the NHS recently and you are treated with complete contempt

  • Paul Marks

    Perry if one is the politics game one has to care about VOTES (without votes one can not do anything about anything) – one can not oppose the NHS in the United Kingdom, it would be like denying the existence of God in Mississippi.

    One picks one’s battles (things one might possibly convince the public of) – one does not have to lie about other stuff, just stay silent. The time for reform of health care will come when the people want reform – but not now. “But Paul that means people will continue to DIE” – I know that Perry, I know that only too well (after all I watched both my parents die under such “care”).

    I fear that things will have to get worse, a lot worse, say under Comrade Corbyn and Comrade McDonnell – with “people’s doctors” qualified only in politics, as with the system under Mao who John McDonnell admires so much, before the people are willing to consider non state alternatives.

  • Laird

    Paul, I don’t have a dog in this fight, and certainly one has to pick one’s battles, but surely asking “why” when someone suggests that you can have better healthcare outcomes is going to cost the votes of anyone listening. And as I read the article, Neil wasn’t suggesting a “non-state alternative”, merely that the system could import a few “tweaks” to make it even better. (/sarc) Why is such a suggestion beyond the pale?

  • pete

    Lefties used to laugh at old buffers who told us we have the finest fighting men in the world, and at right wingers who told us we have the finest police in the world.

    But now they insist we have the best health service in the world with at least as much jingoism.

  • Zerren Yeoville

    “Today, criticising the NHS amounts to heresy.”

    Indeed, NHS worship has effectively become the British state religion (see the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony), and blasphemers against the orthodoxy can expect much the same treatment as the man from ‘Life of Brian’ who said to his wife ‘That piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah!’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIaORknS1Dk

    Now bow your heads and repeat after me: ‘In the name of the N, and of the H, and of the holy S…’

  • pete

    Benefits have been cut ever since Mrs Thatcher came into power.

    Decent jobs are ever harder to get.

    Unemployment is at record highs on 1970s measurement methods.

    Low pay is increasingly common.

    In these circumstances it is not hard to understand why voters cling to the ‘free’ healthcare promised to them by successive governments.

    What the state giveth is very hard to take away.

  • Mr Ecks

    pete –pure socialist cockrot.

    But I would be very happy to buy you a one way ticket to Venezuela or North Korea or Cuba or any of the –happily-ever fewer socialist shitholes around the world. So that you can enjoy their so much superior lifestyles and benefits.

    You are a poor quality troll pete –as ever. The failure of socialism on display. Even in the realm of lies and deceit which used to be left-scum’s forte and their only area of excellence.

  • morsjon

    Recently my family contracted a minor illness,that, while not serious, requires antibiotics. We asked our GP to give us a testing kit each, since it was likely that we would all have it (family with small children). This was just the test we asked for, not the antibiotics themselves; also the test is not expensive. But no, you can only have the test if you have symptoms – even though you can carry it without symptoms! (and so free to reinfect others). In the end we had to go to the GP four times instead of once. Mind boggling inefficiency.

  • Steve borodin

    Mr Ecks

    Poverty creation is the lefts main area of excellence. That is why they need the lies and deceit.

  • I’m with Laird (February 17, 2018 at 11:10 pm). If the interview is as Naomi’s summary shows it, then Andrew Neil’s question would be seen as fair by many and the answer of the not-so-very-ex-Labour MP and the wet-as-the-atlantic Tory would be seen as feeble.

    Lefties spin healthcare as “we’re the ones who care”. Our reply should always be, “Those who care, think! If you really cared, you’d think!” When a refusal to think about how the NHS could be better is as crude as Naomi’s summary implies, then it can be attacked to effect – even in the UK today. In places that might surprise you – including senior NHS doctors and even NHS administrators (I know both) – there is far more awareness than MSM coverage would suggest that the NHS has fundamental organisational problems. Most of these mature, NHS-goal-sympathetic people, if asked, will suggest “about two decades ago” as the time when regulation mania changed – which, by no coincidence is when Tony Blair won his first election.

    As on many another issue, there is a perfectly real opportunity – as Boris demonstrated in the Brexit campaign – for people on our side of the argument to get in front of this issue and move the overton window just a bit, but a useful bit.

  • Jacob

    An info question by an ignorant foreigner: are there any private health care services (outside the NHS) available to rich people in the UK? Such as clinics, laboratories, MRI’s, etc. ? Or – are private services banned by law?

    Where do the rich get their health care?

  • FWIW, the claim by pete (February 18, 2018 at 2:27 am) that, “Benefits have been cut ever since Mrs Thatcher came into power.” is incorrect.

    The Labour government of Wilson and Callaghan that preceded Mrs Thatcher got its finances in such a mess that it had to impose restrictions, including on the NHS. (It also had to sign a letter of intent to the IMF, in exchange for a huge loan.) These restrictions were a feature of Tory election adds in 1979 and even more in 1984, when Tory _restoration_ of NHS funding was a significant element of their joke ad (about the electorate being a jury that could sentence the country to “five years hard labour”). Even the satirical (and like other BBC stuff, left-leaning) “Week Ending” show chose to spin it in a skit whose punchline was that the Labour NHS cuts had not been as fully reserved by the Tories as patient health needed.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Lefties spin healthcare as “we’re the ones who care”.

    Lefties actually say “we’re the only ones who can provide it”, even though evidence says otherwise, but that is the whole leftist agenda, from Corbyn’s nationalization plans downward, the message is that the government can do it better, and when Carillion goes titsup it only strengthens that argument.

    Those of us longer in the tooth know otherwise, dinner by candlelight and all that – but we are dying and the youth are being more empowered.

  • Edward

    Jacob, private health care is not only available, but it’s thriving.

    Allowing private health practice was part of the “devil’s bargain” the Marxist father of the NHS, Aneurin Bevan, had to agree to in order to get the BMA (the doctors’ trade union) to agree to support setting up the NHS in the first place.

    Private health insurance is a common employment perk, and even if you work somewhere that doesn’t offer it, private health insurance is available at reasonable prices from non-profit companies such as BUPA. As such, not only the “rich” but the general middle class avail themselves of the option.

    Ironically, if private health care wasn’t available, the NHS would’ve collapsed under the strain decades ago.

    I, personally, have had three episodes of inpatient hospital stays. All were private stays paid for by my insurance.

  • TomJ

    The received wisdom is that any talk if reforming the NHS is anathema to the British people at large. I wonder if that is because it is anathema to the loudest types with media access, much like leaving the EU was deemed to be something only fringe swivel-eyed loonies wanted. This study seems to suggest that might be the case.

  • jmc

    Want to break the NHS Religion then how about make its true cost visible.

    For a start split out the amount of income tax payed to finance the NHS as a separate item on everyone’s payslip. Like National Insurance. Now given that the NHS is financed out of general taxation and the whole subject is rather murky the last time I did the numbers a person on average salary is paying about 15%/20% of their income tax just to pay for the NHS. People need to be reminded every week just how “free” the NHS is.

    And for those who want more funding for the current system how about a voluntary “NHS Solidarity Tax”. An extra 2%/3% tax people can pay if they want extra money to go to the NHS. Given the history of such voluntary “solidarity taxes” I’d be very surprised if even 5% of those who incessantly scream about more money for the NHS are willing to put *their* money where thier mouth is.

    Always quick to spend other peoples money.

  • Paul Rutherford

    “Healthcare is a political football in any country, but this beautiful game has reached one of its highest levels in the UK.
    The NHS has suffered for many years from a lack of maturity among the politicians entrusted with its management and strategic direction, who use it to make unrealistic, flagship policy pitches”.

    (BTW, with the arrogance which is endemic in some of the medical profession, the full article is available only to those who have paid)

    … or, as David Saunders described the NHS (in a 1960’s speech to the Cambridge Union) “…our national sacred cow”

  • Edward

    James Strong

    The video is not available on YouTube as far as I know, but past episodes of the “This Week” show are available on BBC iPlayer.

    Having watched the show, Ms Firsht’s summary is exactly as it happened. Ms Soubry does indeed say “And?” right after Mr Neil states the stats from Brazil and Costa Rica. Mr Johnson does say “but why” when Ms Andrews suggests we have something to learn from other countries (though, admittedly, not as abruptly as the article suggests).

    And the whole thing has the odour of “burn the heretic!” around it. As ever when the “envy of the world” is discussed by British politicians…

  • Brian Swisher

    I’m reminded of a bit from The Goon Show’s Robin Hood Christmas pantomime (Robin being the character “Neddy Seagoon”). The Sheriff of Nottingham has just captured Robin Hood:

    All your ills will be gone by dawn tomorrow when Robin Hood will be hung… drawn… quartered… clubbed… struck… lifted… lowered… hurled… stretched… drowned… dragged… drugged… bashed… bonked… thudded… tweaked… walloped and then… splugged on a gillikin spike. …Now, throw the wretch into dungeons dark, dank and donk!

    Ye’ll pay for this!

    Nonsense, we get it all free on National Health.

    That got a big laugh back in the late 50s. I wonder if it would today.

  • Jacob

    “Jacob, private health care is not only available, but it’s thriving.”

    In that case why does anybody bother to waste pixels on the NHS? Why does it matter?

  • TomJ

    In that case why does anybody bother to waste pixels on the NHS? Why does it matter?

    Because it spends vast sums of our money?

  • In that case why does anybody bother to waste pixels on the NHS? Why does it matter?

    If it was an “either/or” option then it probably wouldn’t matter, but in that case the withdrawal of vast numbers of the middle class from the NHS to go to BUPA and other private institutions would have caused the collapse of the NHS decades ago.

    As it is, those who pay to go private are essentially paying twice, firstly through general taxation for the NHS and secondly through savings / insurance to go private.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    The situation seems to beg for some sort of satirical novel or film, where the NHS of the future runs everything, or at least interferes in everything. like Cabinet only meeting every 15 minutes or so, to avoid too much stress. Wars being stopped because they are bad for health, etc. Aren’t there any satirists left in Britain, or has Brexit derailed them?

  • Edward Treen

    The biggest problem with the NHS, is the fact that of all bureaucracies it is one which completely epitomises Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy:-

    Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy
    In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.

  • Paul Marks

    Laird – my learned friend…..

    You are quite welcome to suggest such things to the British people, but they are alert to heresy and would interpret your careful words about removing the NHS to “make it even better” as heresy. Cries of “Burn the Heretic!” and the waving of pitchforks (well till they are banned as even knives have been here) would then follow. The Labour Party are past masters at presenting any reform as “privatizing the NHS”, and the people have been taught that before 1948 people who could not pay got no medical treatment (the fact that there had been free hospitals for centuries has been shoved down the Memory Hole – as have the old fraternal associations that most people used to belong to, American fraternal societies have also been in horrible decline for many decades).

    Just so you know.

  • Laird

    Paul, I guess every nation has its weird (to outsiders) quirks. Mine is certainly no exception. Anyway, I’ve been called a heretic before. I wear it as a badge of honor. (That film clip looks like one of our city council meetings after I’ve finished speaking!)

  • Thailover

    The irony is the level of morality involved has little to do with how many people you actually help.

    Here’s an example.
    Stan is an incredibly successful billionaire and donates several million dollars to charity. It makes virtually no impact on his wallet and after he does it he goes about his business.

    Meanwhile homeless Bob gives his last $5 to someone standing by the roadside with a sign saying please help. Homeless Bob has no idea where his next $5 will come from.

    Question: which is more moral, the billionaire or homeless Bob?

    Most without hesitation, most will say the more moral is homeless Bob although homeless Bob gave his money to someone without any idea of how that money will be spent. In fact he’s going to go under a bridge to shoot up heroin. Homeless Bob just helped the other guy in his quest for self-destruction.

    And the donation from the billionaire went to St Jude’s Hospital, which helps countless children with cancer at no cost to the parents.

    It’s built into Humanity that we don’t judge morality by how many people we actually help; we judge morality by how much it hurts The giver. This is why this altruism nonsense won’t go away. It’s built into us.

  • Jim

    “The received wisdom is that any talk if reforming the NHS is anathema to the British people at large. I wonder if that is because it is anathema to the loudest types with media access, much like leaving the EU was deemed to be something only fringe swivel-eyed loonies wanted. This study seems to suggest that might be the case.”


    What you see currently in the ‘NHS debate’ is a Potemkin village of universal praise for the NHS. Its universal all right, in the media and the political sphere, but out in the real world more and more of the public are butting heads with the reality of the ‘beloved NHS’ and losing any affection they had for it. I don’t know one person who will defend the NHS in the way we see in the media. They have all had personal experience of the way the NHS treats patients, either themselves or family members. They will also have seen the utter waste that occurs.

    So you do indeed have a Brexit scenario here, a huge untapped, indeed entirely unseen resource of anti-NHS votes – given a free vote I would not be surprised to see 40% of the public vote to replace the NHS with something different, something you would never consider possible given the public displays of unity.

    We don’t yet have an NHS version of UKIP, but its coming. Someone will cotton on to this and reap plenty of votes as a result.

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