Report Slams NHS Outcomes As Queues Lengthen, Yet Spending on NHS Hits 45% of Budget mdi-fullscreen

Rishi Sunak is to publish his long-awaited NHS workforce plan this week – not before a timely report from the King’s Fund health think tank spells out the reality, rather messing up the government’s grid in the process. The report confirms the NHS is far from the ‘envy of the world’, ‘the best in the world’ or ‘world leading’ – phrases often thrown around by virtue signalling politicians, ministers included. Comparing the NHS to other health systems, the researchers concluded what every patient knows:

Ultimately, it should be a serious concern for political leaders and policy-makers that the UK health system continues to fall behind so many of its peers on health care outcomes… our health care system is unfortunately more of a laggard than a leader. The UK performs worse than many of its peers on several comprehensive measures, including life expectancy and deaths that could have been avoided through timely and effective health care and public health and preventive services.

The report noted particularly poor comparative outcomes on heart attack and strokes. Cancer treatment is poor for a G7 country too…

Despite this being the pitch Labour love to play on, Sunak’s approach to health policy is still something of a mystery – and his key leadership promises on health appear to have been quietly junked. Before he even got into Downing Street, his campaign sharply u-turned on plans to introduce a £10 fine for those missing a GP appointment after a backlash from the BMA.  As Guido noted, he is way off his waiting lists target (one of the five pledges). And his promise to ring-fence the NHS dentistry budget appears to have come to nothing. The government is today resisting public sector pay rises – they would of course be inflationary. Will that logic survive another pre-election battle with the unions?

It fell to Helen Whately to deal with the King’s Fund report on this morning’s media round. Just a few years ago she was on the record as saying “our National Health Service was judged the best healthcare system. Best, safest, most affordable”. Healthcare spending in 2021 was 45% of overall government spending, on its way to being over half of all government spending…

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mdi-account-multiple-outline Helen Whately Rishi Sunak
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