In our report Wasting Lives: a statistical analysis of NHS performance in a European context since 1981 (PDF) we showed how Gordon Brown had tested the idea that more money, without significant reform, would improve the NHS to destruction. The NHS absorbed a huge increase in funding without the long term pattern in lives saved, relative to European peers, changing. This divergence between funding and results can be seen in the graph on the right (click for a larger version). Despite huge increases in spending 17,000 more lives are being lost in the UK relative to EU peers due to higher levels of mortality amenable to healthcare.
A new YouGov poll for the Telegraph shows that the public are now convinced that the NHS needs reform rather than ever more funding in order to really improve. The Telegraph report that "Sixty-nine per cent of people said reorganising the NHS is more important than spending more on it, up from 38 per cent in 1998." In our report we set out the principles that should guide such reforms:
- Decentralisation. Local bodies in the NHS have little real freedom as so many decisions are made by central quangos. Decisions can be decentralised to hospitals and doctors.
- Encouraging competition. Competition between hospitals and other healthcare providers will hold local providers to account more effectively than national targets.
- Getting politicians out of management. The health service is run by politicians with little experience of management or healthcare. Removing the day to day management of the health service from political control would allow real improvement.