Is it because they iz doctors?


The quangocrats are quite rightly squealing about how the quangocracy is going to be squeezed out of allocating and planning for health care in the NHS. Rightly, for of course, without the great and the good to determine what we plebs should be offered for our bruised tootsies and obesity strained bodies, how on earth would we end up with what is good for us?

This idea that doctors, mere general practitioners, might determine what treatment we get at what price is certainly no panacea for the absence of said quangos and bureaucrats. After all, they've only spent years prodding bodies and treating sick people while smart people in offices know how to do planning. Planning, of course, being much more important as the expense accounts provided to those who do it show.

When Peter Aylott, 67, needed a scan for a heart condition he expected it would mean a trip to his local hospital in Kent, not in an exclusive private clinic in London. But Peter and half a dozen other patients were picked up from their homes in Bexley and taken to the home of private medicine, Harley Street. …

[In addition to being safer than the NHS procedure,] the scan is also cheaper, says Dr Kostas Manis, a GP in Bexley. "The angiogram is £1,300 in the NHS, and the private clinic scanner is £900 and we're negotiating to bring the figure down to £600."

Dr Manis has helped to develop the new scheme, which has saved the NHS in Bexley £300,000 in the past eight months. Faced with a £20m deficit in 2007, the primary care trust decided to hand over the bulk of commissioning power to GPs. They now control 70% of the £150m budget for Bexley.

Hmm, what's that? GPs are already handling budgets and doing the planning? They're managing to find better and cheaper treatments than the bureaucrats? You mean that having people who actually know what they're doing making decisions works better than leaving said decisions to people who don't?

My, my, well there is a turn up for the books. As Phil Walker goes on to intimate, these concerns about the death of the NHS as a result of GP budget holding are entirely nonsensical.

If the NHS really is the best health care system in the world, the envy of every other nation, then everyone looking for the best service will be using the NHS: there will be no business escaping this best in the world system. If money does get spent on private providers then that can only mean that the private providers are offering a better deal than the NHS: which means that the NHS isn't the best system in the world and therefore we don't want it, do we?

Another way of looking at it: why is it that those who insist most stridently that the NHS is the best of all possible health care systems are the ones who insist most stridently that the NHS should never face any competition? Competition being, of course, something that should not trouble the best in any field for the best always win competitions, don't they?