I was watching BBC Question Time a few of weeks ago, and Owen Smith – you remember, the utter failure who tried to unseat Jeremy Corbyn as leader last year by copying him in every way – was banging on that we, as a nation, spend an awful lot less money on healthcare than the OECD average, and it’s the nasty Tories’ fault. All part of an evil scheme to privatise the NHS, I suspect.
Anne Widdecombe tried to interject but wasn’t really audible through the seal-like clapping of the audience. All I picked up was “that’s not all public money, though”. I decided to look into it.
The Worldbank website has all sorts of data on this, and the first thing I did was compare total UK healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP to the OECD average. This is what I found:
Blimey! I thought. Maybe Owen Smith was right! There’s a first time for everything, after all… Even broken clocks, etc.
But then I remembered Anne’s comment, and checked public healthcare expenditure. My jaw dropped.
As a percentage of GDP, we spent above the OECD average in public money every year since 2004, until 2014 when we spent the average. (I suspect the closing of the gap since 2010 is because we grew our GDP faster than they did, rather than them increasing healthcare spending). The first graph that shows the funding gap includes public and private money.
This next graph shows that over 82% of our healthcare spending is public money, whereas OECD members only average 62% public money, with private money making up the rest.
So why is there such a discrepancy? The answer is obvious. It’s because we, as a nation, are allergic to the idea of private money being spent on healthcare.
It’s because people like Owen Smith and his dogmatic left-wing pals have been weaponising the NHS as an election tool for decades, constantly fearmongering about private money. At every election, the same old flyers and banners come out.
“Only X months/weeks/days to save our NHS from Tory privatisation…”
“Patients before profit!”
They even call it our NHS, just to reiterate how public it is. Keep that filthy private money away!
The double-standards is impressive even by left-wing standards. They point at semi-private systems to attack the government, while simultaneously rallying against such systems. It’s a bit like junior doctors marching against “NHS privatisation”, while simultaneously threatening to put two fingers up to the country that trained them and go off to work in semi-private Australia because they get paid more and it’s a nicer system to work in.
Here is the reality. The Left would rather less was spent on healthcare than have to admit that private money in health can be a good thing. If they publicly admitted it, they’d be admitting that their central election theme has been nonsense all along. With the NHS being the only topic Labour are trusted on (despite mid staffs, PFI, the botched IT system and Labour publicly calling for it to be cut), there’s no way they’ll do that.
This, my friends, is what I call, “Politics before patients.”
Maybe I should start a hashtag…