Monday, 17 January 2011

Americans Should Take Note of Cameron's Attempts to Reform the NHS

It may seem that in the last week or so I have been rather harsh to Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron.  Certainly I am frustrated by the fact that we seem to have a Conservative Prime Minister who appears to be scared of conservative principles, but at the same time he is significantly better than the previous few incumbents.  Indeed, there may be an argument to say that he is the best Prime Minister that we have had since Margaret Thatcher.

So I was cheered somewhat by the announcement today of the new offensive against the NHS, designed to reform the monolith of our National Health Service somewhat so that it offers either better service, or costs less - preferably both.

The problem that Cameron and the Tories have is that reforming the NHS by introducing market principles is like trying to make an elephant do ballet - it is simply not in its nature.  You can have a privatised system or a nationalised system, trying to get a nationalised system with privatised efficiency is just dreamland, not reality.   In addition, the NHS is a government controlled, unionised monopoly, with enormous amounts of public sector special interests who have vested interests in the status quo.  That means that whenever there is even the slightest mention of reform, those vested interests cause hell.  It is for this reason that Thatcher was able to defeat the Soviet Union, she was able to defeat the Argentinians, she was even able to defeat the Scargillian uprising - but she was not able to defeat the vested interests in the NHS.  They are simply too powerful, and have been since the 1940's, when the NHS was started.

We have seen a similar result today.  Cameron's major speech today on the issue has already been hijacked by those claiming to be "outraged" after Cameron (rightly) described the NHS as "second rate", which has been declared to be an insult to "millions of NHS staff" by Labour and the rest of the union cronies that follow them around.  This is the common tactic used to smear anyone who fails to follow the dogma that the NHS is the greatest, besterest everest system of healthcare in the entire world!!! (except for Cuba of course!)

Unfortunately Cameron has already backed down and has apologised for describing it as "second rate", instead modifying it to say that patients should not be given treatment that is "second best".  Cameron has fallen into the left's trap.  The problem Cameron has is that he is trying to work within a government-run, nationalised monopoly, which ultimately will never be efficient, and he is trying to do it with the co-operation of vested interests.  He has chosen not to tackle the fundamental problem of the nationalised system, and is instead trying to make the existing system less inefficient.  But the vested interests have no interest in making the system more efficient, and therefore attempts at diplomacy will fail.  If Cameron wants to reform the NHS, he must fight.  If he is not prepared to fight, then he will fail.

Already we have seen that reform of the NHS may prove to be an almost impossible task, and this is something for Americans to take note of when it comes to the effects of Obamacare. Once you have nationalised health care, it is impossible to revoke.  Attempts to make it smoother will mostly fail, and any attempt to modify the system in any way will be met by a tide of anger from vested interests keen to preserve the status quo.  Every smear from "you are insulting nurses" to "you want poor people to die on the streets" will be aimed at you.  From a political perspective, this makes it impossible to touch, and this is why the British Conservative Party has been unable to propose any significant NHS reforms time and time again.  So, if Obamacare is allowed to be established, America will never get rid of it.

It is for this reason that repealing Obamacare as soon as possible is the highest priority for Republicans and conservatives in America.  Boehner and co are right to make that their main target, and it should also be the focus of the 2012 Republican Presidential Campaign.  Because if this thing gets settled, you will never get rid of it.  Look at Britain, we have had the NHS since 1945, and we still have the same problems now that we had back in the 40's!  If America does not want to still be struggling with nationalised health care in the 2070's, then it needs to repeal Obamacare - fast!

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