Nick Clegg on the NHS

Today’s Sunday Telegraph contains an op-ed piece from Nick Clegg on the future for the NHS:

As it approaches its 60th birthday, the NHS is at a crossroads. As with all our public services under Labour, good intentions have gone awry under the iron fist of central control. Money has been poured in, but it hasn’t delivered the first-class health service Britain deserves.

So what next? There are no more bucketloads of cash to pour in. Instead of only asking “how much” we spend, it’s time to focus on “how” we spend it. The NHS needs to be reinvented for the 21st century, built from the people up, not from Whitehall down.

It must remain free at the point of use, and accessible to all. But people must be able to take more control. In essence I want our NHS to become a People’s Health Service …

Community control of our NHS is vital. But the Conservatives wouldn’t deliver it, any more than Labour. They would hand total control to an unelected quango, including power to close local hospitals against the wishes of the community.

Real improvement requires a new approach, based on personal empowerment, local control, and fairness. This is a liberal solution, which helps the poorest by empowering everyone.

A People’s NHS would replace top-down targets with personal entitlements to high-quality care. A “patient contract” would guarantee core treatments in all areas and deliver meaningful choice.

To drive the NHS to deliver, everyone should have the right to private treatment, paid by the NHS, if the waiting time is exceeded. That’s how it works in Denmark – not to undermine the public system, but to guarantee individual care …

The NHS ought to be the envy of the world. To make that a reality, let us take a liberal approach, and put people in charge. We can reinvigorate the NHS, tackle health inequalities, and deliver a service we are proud to hand to the next generation.

 You can read the full piece here.

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One Comment

  • “To drive the NHS to deliver, everyone should have the right to private treatment, paid by the NHS, if the waiting time is exceeded. That’s how it works in Denmark – not to undermine the public system, but to guarantee individual care …”

    In Sweden and Finland, as well, where it is called “health care guarantee”. However, the system is designed only to shorten a bit the queues caused by the inefficiency of the public health care, not to solve the actual problem by decreasing the inefficiency or to increase the choice in the first place.

    Nick Clegg could look at the Netherlands, where everybody is obliged to have a health insurance in a private insurance company. These insurances are subsidised by the government, so that everybody can afford them. Though people in the Netherland pay a small amount of the insurance fee, the insurance could of course be subsidised up to 100%. At the point of use the health care would remain free, and the patients would have a real choice immediately, not only in the case if the given waiting time is exceeded.

    Germany and Switzerland use a health care system almost similar to the Netherlands, but it divides the patients to the less well off, who have to take a public health insurance, and are discriminates by the doctors because they get less money for them, and to the better off, who have to get a private insurance, and are favoured by the doctors.

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