Why the NHS matters – and why it matters that it stays in public hands

There’s been an interesting infographic going round Twitter which I thought worth sharing here:

Health service comparisons

The graphic is a bit difficult to read so here’s the wording against each row of figures in order (top to bottom):

  • Had a medical problem but did not visit a doctor because of cost in the past year
  • Did not get recommended test, treatment, or follow-up because of cost in the past year
  • Did not fill prescription or skipped doses because of cost in the past year
  • Had to wait more than six days for medical appointment
  • Found it difficult to get care in evenings, weekends or on holidays
  • Waited more than two hours for treatment in emergency department (A&E)

This is startling; not only because it shows that the US consistently underperforms on all the measures covered against the other countries; that in itself wouldn’t be all that surprising. But also because it shows the significant differences between the UK and some of the other high income countries represented in the graphic.

So in terms of cost being a barrier to seeking or accessing treatment/care, there is no doubt at all: the UK NHS outperforms by a margin all the other countries in the study.

The data in this graphic are so startling that I actually tried to find out where they were from because I thought I needed to verify this before sharing it.

The numbers come from an article in the New England Journal of Medicine; only an abstract is available free on the Internet, but the table from which the numbers come is there. So it’s their numbers. That’s good enough for me.

The article goes on to examine whether there are significant differences in terms of barriers to health care for people with above average incomes; the figures available summarise the high income countries other than the US and compare that average to the US. The figures make it clear that the barriers for people with above average incomes are still greater in the US than they are in the other countries in the study; but they also show that above average incomes lead to fewer barriers. No surprises there, then.

Why am I raising this here?

First, I think this is yet more proof that we need to preserve the NHS as a public service.

Second, I think we need to remember when we complain about aspects of the health service that we are only a small political madness away from losing what we have.

Third, I think it is important to have all these figures to hand when we argue with candidates in the General Election campaign about how they will secure the future of the NHS in public hands.

And finally, because this is yet more proof – if that were needed – that we cannot and must not allow the NHS to be targeted by the US health sector under the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). That health industry (and it is an industry rather than a service) is in it for profit; in it for making sure that the more money you have the more you take off you; and if you don’t have enough for them to be interested, they’re not interested.

We keep being told by the Tories that TTIP is no threat to the NHS; don’t believe it!



About martinaweitsch

I'm interested in politics and rational political debate which isn't afraid of the facts or the complexities and contradictions inherent in most important issues.
This entry was posted in Behind the Headlines, Economics, NHS, Politics in context, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s