Wednesday, March 06, 2013


In the UK, the public sector is continually being squeezed with demands to improve performance.

Performance is measured by achievement of targets. A focus on ticking boxes rather than thinking about patient's needs led to the appalling Mid Staffs situation.

Why did this happen?  Because ticking boxes keeps the commissioners of services happy.

Who are these commissioners? Believe it or not they are also NHS employees, but they are the purchasers in the ludicrous ‘internal market’ that is the ‘modern, efficient’ NHS.

Why an internal market? Because politicians and ideologues did not like doctors deciding what was best for their patients.

Recent evidence published in the Lancet indicates that health in the UK is lagging behind other countries. The response from Jeremy Hunt (the UK Minister for Health) is "For too long we have been lagging behind and I want the reformed health system to take up this challenge and turn this shocking underperformance around."

Translated: ‘We need more boxes to tick’

He wants more people to go for regular health checks to spot diseases earlier and he is calling better joining up of NHS services so that patients don't get lost in the system.

Well, no shit, Sherlock.

He also says that many deaths happen because the NHS is not good enough at preventing people getting sick or because treatment does not rival that seen elsewhere in Europe.

So let’s blame the NHS, shall we, Jeremy? It makes a change from blaming the population, I guess.

Here is something to think about.

The health of the population in the UK is contextual.

People eat crap food full of corn fructose, starch and horse meat because food producers manufacture cheap, crap food to keep the prices down.

Lots of people in the UK are poor and have little choice but to buy cheap food sourced by supermarkets (who incidentally screw producers to keep costs down – after all, supermarkets are ultimately about profits and dividends)

People drink and smoke too much too. That could be because lots of people in the UK are unhappy.

The context of health (and other issues like crime and education) in this country is that, like in the US, around 40% of the wealth is owned by less than 1% of the population.

We all know politicians lie or are ‘economical with the truth’ and that many politicians represent the interests of the elite.

But the even bigger lie is that politics makes any difference. Even having the vote makes little difference as far as the gap between rich and poor is concerned; nothing has changed in hundreds of years.

Mainstream politics is a sideshow, a diversion from the reality of inequality in our society, and it is this inequality that needs to be addressed.

Anything else is just a distraction, like taking an aspirin to treat a cancer.