16th July 2015

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Lord Darzi

Health Chat 15th July - King's Fund - London

 Details here.

News and Comment from Roy Lilley

What have you been reading lately? OK Magazine? Country Life? Apps-R-Us? What about Hansard?


I suspect not... to be honest, neither have I. But, the sharp-eyed Richard Grimes has.


We nearly missed a zinger; Hansard, 9th July, column 286. The Plastic-Peer was on his feet in the House of Lords, summing up a debate on the sustainability of the NHS.


A lot of the old boys were drumming on about co-payments, insurance and how long it would keep going. Many of them Labour peers.  Plastic Peer, Prior professed his undying love for the NHS. Strange, as back in 2014 he was calling for 'failing Trusts' to be taken over by 'foreign, private health firms'.


One whiff of the ermine and the ether of power can change a man!


However, his concluding remarks were... well... remarkable.


We either take the view that it was just cranky old Prior 'going off on one' or we say; he is a minister of the crown and speaks for the government, both its policy and its thinking. He must have come to the debate prepared and knew exactly what he was saying.


Here's what he said:


"... I have listened to the debate and the strength of feeling about whether we should take a longer-term view that goes way beyond this Parliament. The sustainability of the health service is an issue that extends out 20 years, probably, but it is one that every developed country faces.


I would like to meet the noble Lord, Lord Patel, and maybe two or three others, to discuss this (the future funding of the NHS) in more detail to see whether we can frame some kind of independent inquiry - I do not think that it needs to be a royal commission. We are not short of people who could look at this issue for us; there are health foundations, such as the Nuffield Trust and the King's Fund. The issue is: what will the long-term demand for healthcare be in this country in 10 or 20 years' time? Will we have the economic growth to fund it?


At heart, our ability to have a world-class health system will depend on our ability to create the wealth in this country to fund it. I am personally convinced, having looked at many other funding systems around the world, that a tax-funded system is the right one. However, if demand for healthcare outstrips growth in the economy for a prolonged period, of course that premise has to be questioned.


In conclusion, perhaps I might address issues such as whether there should be an independent inquiry with the noble Lord, Lord Patel, after today's debate."


What are we to make of that?


Prior will have a private word with some mates in the Lords and tap-up the Nuff's or the King's to find ways of charging patients.




This is a sensible and overdue response to a longstanding conundrum.


The King's Fund has already had a go at this, with their Barker Review. You'll find it on a shelf somewhere. In short it said: merge health and social care and; "...the next government needs to consider how to respond to... spending pressures." They went on to discount charges and private insurance.


Looks like the Kings will give Prior the heave-ho.  They know; last thing we need is another report, delays and phaffing around.


The Nuff's have just announced the 'purchaser provider split' is on the way out and the market is on its deathbed. Their report shreds what's left of the H&SCAct. I doubt they'd want to play hunt-the-money and are far too sensible to get involved.


I can't see we need another report. Prior is right; it's all about the economy. If the economy does well the NHS is secure. If it doesn't; no one, government, individuals, companies will have the money to pay for anything.


A bit of common-sense might go a long way? If you take taxes out of your left hand pocket and top-ups out of the right... it's still your trousers. 


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