Either Ed Miliband is struggling to understand the basics or his ideology is spiralling out of control. The latest Labour pledge:
Labour would cap the amount of profit private firms can make from the NHS, Ed Miliband will say as he launches the party's election campaign.
He will pledge to halt the "drive to privatisation" he claims has taken place in the health service since 2010.
The future of the NHS is "on the ballot paper" and only Labour can guarantee the funding it needs, he will say.
Under his plans, private firms will have to reimburse the NHS if they exceed a 5% profit cap on contracts.
Companies make profit by keeping costs as low as possible while producing a product or service that people want (and ideally choose) to consume. Apologies for the simplicity, but apparently Ed needs it.
Pledging to fix levels of profit that a company can make ruins any motivation for the company to bring costs down. Given the NHS’s current financial situation, Miliband should not be so quick to toss aside the importance of efficiency gains.
Nor should he be ignorant of private firm’s impacts on patient outcomes.
Private firms are hardly private when working for the NHS; they are still under the jurisdiction of NHS bureaucracy and are often dependent on public funds for their operations. But where private firms and independent sector treatment centres do differ from the public sector is in their record on patient outcomes. Research from 2011 showed that ISTC surgery patients are healthier and experience less severe recovery conditions than patients undergoing the same surgeries with NHS providers.
Furthermore, Circle's management of Hitchingbrooke Hospital turned a failing trust into one of the highest ranked hospitals for patient happiness and cut waiting times drastically; their recent failings were not a result of bad healthcare but rather bad business.
One of the reasons Circle reneged on its government contract is because it’s a struggle to make efficiency gains under NHS regulations as they currently exist; if Labour gets its way, this will become nearly impossible.
Miliband's attack on privatization and profit is an ideological attack on buzzwords; unfortunately, his crackdown could have real affects on patient outcomes.