The choice is stark: Labour supports the NHS as a service delivered by public servants, not by private companies. The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats support privatising parts of the NHS. For example, just next door in Staffordshire, the Coalition government is currently hawking to the private sector a 10 year £1 billion contract for provision of cancer services. Companies like Virgin Healthcare are in the running.
So just how good is the NHS as a public service? Much is revealed by the tables below. Compiled by independent academics, these tables compare several health services in western countries. Guess what? The NHS wins by a mile.
Moreover, the NHS does so relatively efficiently. For example, as a proportion of GDP, in the USA they spend twice as much as we do, yet tens of millions still have no health cover. In France they spend 50% more.
Of course the NHS needs to improve further. For a start, it needs more funding. After all, the Tory-led government broke its promise to maintain NHS funding in real terms year on year.
Nevertheless, we should be realistic about just how good the NHS is, and we need to build on what we’ve got – not go privatising it. Only Labour will keep the NHS as a cohesive, free public service.
Rob Marris, Labour Candidate for Wolverhampton South West
[Source: The Commonwealth Fund, June 16, 2014; http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/fund-reports/2014/jun/mirror-mirror]
[Source: compiled from New England Journal of Medicine article on the Equity of Healthcare Internationally= http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1406707]