Lord Carter's report that the NHS is not in fact as efficient as we would like that august organisation to be. This has led to the predictable cries from the left that it must be the nascent market in said NHS that is to blame:
The aim is, apparently to save up to £400 million for the NHS by making more effective buying decisions that will reduce the product range used by NHS hospitals from more than 500,000 items to just 10,000.
Three thoughts follow. The first is that it is very obvious that Lord Carter is saying that splitting the NHS into hundreds of trusts each making their own buying decisions is hopelessly inefficient, as was always obvious.
Second, he is saying that if you create an inefficient system where cooperation is not allowed because that is contrary to the dogmatically imposed idea that competition produces optimal outcomes you will end up with excess cost.
And third, he is saying that imposing centralisation on the system could save a great deal, as I argued on this blog only last week.
At which point we think we'd like to see proof of the contention.
NHS Scotland and NHS Wales work under very different levels of competition and market outsourcing than NHS England does. There are two possibilities in the Carter report. The first is that the 22 trusts chosen to be examined were from all three systems. At which point it should be possible to pull out the evidence that less market based systems are more efficient, as is alleged. Or, alternatively, the 22 trusts were only from NHS England in which case everyone is, no doubt eagerly, preparing for similar investigations, under the same terms, to be undertaken into NHS Wales and NHS Scotland so as to prove the contention.
For of course those making such a claim would actually like to have solid evidence of said claim, wouldn't they? We'd not want to be deciding something of such public importance merely on the grounds of pure prejudice, would we?
So, err, could anyone point us to those calls for or that store of comparative evidence? Because we can't see them anywhere.....