Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Reforming the NHS and the importance of private providers

"The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries."
- Winston Churchill

Nowhere is this 'virtue' more pronounced in Britain's modern left than on the subject of healthcare.

'The NHS is being privatised', 'the NHS has been sold', 'the NHS no longer exists'. These are all common phrases heard from the left.

They seem to be happy to accept substandard care, long waiting lists and real human suffering, as long as the horror is publicly run and equally shared. Private companies being involved in healthcare is considered to be awful. It doesn't matter if they offer shorter waits, better patient outcomes, and are even able to combine this with lower costs.

Impossible. How could they do all of that at once? (and make a profit on top? No way)

Welcome to specialisation, division of labour; the innovation associated with private enterprise that is incredibly difficult to replicate in bureaucratic government organisations.

The healthcare commissioner looks for the best price/quality combination they can find. The service provider realises that the only way to win contracts is to provide the best patient outcomes in the most efficient way. Having the proper people in commissioning positions is vital - as is having a multiplicity of providers to compete on price and quality.

When there is one monopoly provider, which knows it will get the business no matter how poor its service, horrific things like Mid-Staffs are sure to happen.

I leave you with the Aravind Eye Care System in India, an amazing business which receives no government or charitable funding, and has treated tens of millions of Indians - many of them for free or low cost. The business is successful because it has an excellent reputation and offers a tiered service. Those who can pay, do. And they receive a more luxurious hospital stay. Poorer patients pay little or nothing, and receive the same high quality care but more basic conditions.

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