Letter: Bleeding the NHS

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The Independent Culture
Sir: With traditional Tory ignorance of business economics, Ann Widdecombe told the party conference that "Every time you supply your own health, you are freeing up the NHS to look after someone else's health."

This cracker-barrel analysis typically discounts the cost of training, something which private medicine simply cannot afford. Instead, the private sector allows the taxpayer to pay for training staff then simply poaches them from the NHS at a fraction of the real cost, creating the current shortages in the NHS and huge profits for itself. In effect "supplying your own health" through the private sector means subsidising an industry which is bleeding the NHS to death. As usual, the taxpayer is subsidising an ostensibly "private" industry.

The plain fact is that if a training levy were imposed upon the health industry it would shrivel back to Harley Street, licking its wounds. Additionally, the NHS would have no problems paying its staff a living wage. As it is, private medicine is a parasite on the NHS and the state. But how can we expect a Tory to recognise a parasite, especially one making money at the expense of what Miss Widdecombe still quaintly calls "the poor"?

ROB KENYON

London SE14

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