The NHS is one of the best!

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THE NHS has been under heavy attack by both Tory and Labour governments for the last 17 years. They want to privatise it and bring in the big US medical corporations and their private insurance system.

Labour and Tory governments declare that the NHS is too expensive, it is failing, that the big hospitals have to be shut down and care transferred into the community with tens of thousands of health workers sacked.

However the Commonwealth Fund report tells a different story. It declares that the NHS is the most efficient healthcare system in the major industrial countries.

The Fund looked at five areas of performance – quality, efficiency, access to care, equity and healthy lives.

The private ‘healthcare’ giant, the US, came last in the overall rankings, which also included data from Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and New Zealand.

More than 27,000 patients and primary care doctors were surveyed across all seven countries as part of the study, starting in 2007.

The Netherlands ranked first overall, closely followed by the UK and Australia with the UK performing well when it came to quality of care and access to care.

When it came to efficiency, the UK and Australia ranked first and second, respectively.

Efficiency was measured by looking at total national spending on health as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), as well as the amount spent on health administration and insurance. The NHS is a big bargain!

The US however consistently underperformed in most areas of health care relative to other countries.

The report finds: ‘Despite having the most costly health system in the world, the United States consistently underperforms on most dimensions of performance, relative to other countries. This report – an update to three earlier editions – includes data from seven countries and incorporates patients’ and physicians’ survey results on care experiences and ratings on dimensions of care. Compared with six other nations – Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom – the US health care system ranks last or next-to-last on five dimensions of a high performance health system: quality, access, efficiency, equity, and healthy lives.’

Further ‘The US health system is the most expensive in the world, but comparative analyses consistently show the United States underperforms relative to other countries on most dimensions of performance. . .

‘Among the seven nations studied – Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States – the US ranks last overall, as it did in the 2007, 2006, and 2004 editions of Mirror, Mirror.

‘Most troubling, the US fails to achieve better health outcomes than the other countries, and as shown in the earlier editions, the US is last on dimensions of access, patient safety, coordination, efficiency, and equity.

‘The Netherlands ranks first, followed closely by the UK and Australia.’

The report continues that ‘With the inclusion of primary care physician survey data in the analysis, it is apparent that the US is lagging in adoption of national policies that promote primary care, quality improvement, and information technology’.

Yesterday however the axemen were coming out of the woodwork, with the NHS in their sights. Nigel Edwards, acting head of the NHS Confederation, warned that the NHS must find £20bn of savings in the coming years and that the service faced its ‘greatest ever challenge’ in maintaining quality services during the ‘funding squeeze’.

He said that moving away from hospitals to care in the community would be essential and that the NHS had already set aside money for redundancies.

Workers in the UK must defend their health service and not accept a single cut or redundancy. There must be no adoption of the US private health care model. The Tory-led coalition will shortly bring out its privatisation plans. It must be brought down and be replaced by a workers government that will end the NHS privatisation drive and put more not less resources at the disposal of the NHS.