The NHS as an elegant exposition of the failure of government

The National Health Service has something of a shortage of doctors. More specifically, of general practitioners. How many general practitioners are trained up out of the British population is something entirely and wholly under the control of the government:

The average GP now works less than three-and-a-half days a week - and just one in 20 trainee doctors intends to do the job full-time, research shows.

Patients’ groups said the rise of the part-time GP was “terrifying” given the national shortage of family doctors - fuelling ever longer waits for an appointment. But GPs said the job has become so intense that full-time working was increasingly “untenable”.

The survey of more than 2,000 family doctors shows that on average, they are now carrying out 6.7 half-day sessions a week - the lowest figure on record.

This is a known and obvious result of the feminsation of the profession.

No, we do not thereby mean that there's anything wrong with such feminisation. We really are liberals, how people wish to earn their livings, run their lives, entirely up to them. Nor is it to say that the consequences of the feminisation make it unappealing, unworthy or unwelcome. It is only to point out that there are consequences.

For this move to rather more part time than full time working is about that feminsation. Women do tend to take time off to bear their children, it is true enough often enough that they then - if the opportunity arises - work part time for some years after that bearing.

Again, there is nothing wrong with any of that, that is not our point.

Rather, the GP workforce has over recent decades moved from being - at that entry level, the population as a whole obviously dependent upon the ageing process - from being majority male to majority female. How many GPs there are being a function of government planning. 

You and I, being rational, would have said that as a consequence we need to be training more GPs. We're going to get fewer labour hours out of each GP we train, thus we need more of them. Government did not do this, or at least not enough.

As to why, we can blame anything we wish. Tory Austerity if that floats your boat, although given training times 2010 really wasn't the start of the problem. Misogyny if that's what you wish to blame. Politics is always a good one, the incompetence of a bureaucracy could be the issue. The BMA's insistence on limiting the number of doctors, make up your own explanation.

The point though is that, despite the obvious problem coming down the pike that planned and rational government system didn't do the obvious thing to solve it. Thus planned and rational government isn't a very good solution to problems, is it?

If something as obvious as fewer labour hours per trained worker  means we need more trained workers doesn't impact upon those who swallow 40% of everything everyone does then perhaps we really should be back looking at those non-governmental solutions again? 

Or as we really shouldn't need to point out, sure, markets fail at times, government really is necessary sometimes. But then government fails at times too, what's the answer then?