Letter: High cost of health

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The Independent Culture
Sir: M C Fitzpatrick (letter, 18 January) refers to the accountancy argument between Labour and the Conservatives as to who made the bigger annual percentage increase in the NHS budget. This sterile argument enables politicians of both parties to deflect us away from the real debate.

It is time that Labour (and the Conservatives) were asked how they explain the differences in healthcare spending per head of population between the UK at pounds 779 per year as compared with Italy (pounds 941), France (pounds 1,222), and Germany (pounds 1,333)?

If this enormous discrepancy is not to be made up through general taxation, when will the politicians consider some other system of funding - perhaps along the lines of the German model of a range of health insurance schemes whose premiums are set by central government?


London W11

Sir: Of course there is rationing in the Health Service (leading article, 19 January). From waiting lists - whether for operations, out-patients, ancillary services or even primary care - to rationing of drugs (Viagra, Interferon or whatever), it must be obvious to anyone with a grain of common sense.

Why, then, can it not be openly admitted to? We supposedly live in a democratic society. If the population want a fully-funded health service, let it be voted for with all the facts and expenses laid on the table, not hidden behind the mask of political rhetoric or surreptitiously devolved to local Primary Care Groups for them to shoulder the burden of responsibility.


Cheltenham, Gloucestershire