The campaign has officially started and with the NHS a key battleground Labour fires the first shot, capping the profit that private providers can make at 5%.
What were they thinking of? It’s a small enough margin to keep out innovative private competition, who simply won’t be bothered. That may be enough to ensure mediocrity for protected monopoly providers, but why don’t Labour have the courage of their convictions?
Surely only 0% profit would ensure total uniformity. Or are they going to multiply the army of inspectors and regulators who do such a fine job holding everyone to minimum standards?
Of course, any profitable company can decide how much profit to make and where. Simply increase expenses, salaries and bonuses, or make profits appear in favourable countries such as Luxembourg. Reducing efficiency to raise costs would work nearly as well, and prevent any nasty “destabilising” noises.
I don’t want to overstate the case against competition. Someone injured beside the road, for example, should be able to compare ambulance or A&E prices and services from local hospitals. We must also acknowledge the role that a market in access to healthcare would have in bolstering our deeply unequal society.
NHS England have just announced 37 winners of the Prime Ministers Challenge fund, who won the competition from the 156 applicants. That means 119 applications were completely wasted. Why go to all that trouble when DH could have simply handed out the money without the fuss?
We need to expose the contradiction in Labour’s line. They are using policies, promises, advertising, debates, all kinds of persuasion, to try and win us over. It looks and smells to me like competition. Why can’t we simply have one person make all the decisions and have done?
After all, if it’s good enough for modern North Korea, it’s good enough for modern Britain.
Founder, Chief Executive
GP Access Ltd
PS We are delighted for Stellar Healthcare, PMCF winners from West Essex who phoned yesterday, very excited. They are one of several who have named us to help with digital access for patients. Others are still to work out how, and we trust it will be a fully competitive process – turns out to be quite a useful and transparent way to bring about change.
PPS Julian Patterson describes the “electoral dysfunction” of our political leaders in his peerless blog Embarrassing Conditions.