PMQs: David Cameron will never win by defending a nationalised health system the rest of the world rejects

The Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead (pictured) is staffed by great people. But the luvvies round the corner built an NHS that doesn't work.

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The Royal Free Hospital, Hampstead
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The Commentator
On 11 May 2011 11:49

Prime Minister’s Question Time is always one of the great spectacles of British politics. But after the kind of rubbish just witnessed in Wednesday’s proceedings dominated by the National Health Service, we really hope that not too many people outside Britain were watching.

The public discussion about the health system in this country is something between a farce and a national disgrace.

Here was a Conservative Prime Minister locked in battle with a Labour opposition leader over who could outbid the other on their commitment to the kind of state-socialist monolith that practically everyone else in the Western world derides as ludicrous.

Your chances of surviving a heart attack are higher in Poland. There are several formerly communist countries where longevity rates after diagnosis on a range of cancers are better than in Britain.

And while we’re on the subject, let’s remember that of the 27 countries defined by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development as having started on the path to transition from communism in the early 1990s, not a single one chose the British model when deciding on their new health system.

That’s about as damning as it gets. Coolly, rationally and objectively, they looked around the world for which countries offered the best health care arrangements for their people. Precisely none chose Britain’s.

Why do you think that might be? Really, mull it over and think about it. It shouldn’t take long to come up with the answer.

So, watching David Cameron say for the 18th time today that “it is this government that is” putting more resources into the NHS than ever, that “it is this government that is” raising the numbers of doctors, cutting bureaucrats and so on and so forth ad infinitum, it was like switching on an episode of the Twilight Zone.

Instead of firming up his credentials with the Guardian and the BBC (who will never be satisfied anyway), the Commentator wants to see a Conservative Prime Minister say openly what every half intelligent observer of the international health care scene already knows: The British system doesn’t work, and it needs to be replaced with something that does.

Given that the British public would insist on a comprehensive system free at the point of use, there are several good insurance-based systems across Europe to choose from. And there are plenty of countries whose example we could follow in switching from state-socialism to something more rational and up to date.

The bottom line is that infantilism in the British debate over our health care arrangements has got to stop. It makes us look stupid, and it’s bad for our health.

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