Leading article: A ring-fenced service feels the squeeze

Share
Related Topics

You can be forgiven for being confused about what is happening in the health service. According to official figures released yesterday, the number of doctors working for the NHS rose by 2,484 in the first six months of the Coalition Government. The number of midwives also went up, while the number of managers fell by 2,013. And yet, False Economy, the new anti-cuts campaign launched under the auspices of the TUC, has produced a carefully researched list of 53,150 NHS jobs that are already doomed, with many more expected over the next four months. The casualties include doctors, dental staff, nurses, midwives and health visitors.

The causes of all this churn are complex. Some hospital trusts have overspent and have to make cuts to balance the books, for which the Government can say it is not to blame. Others are downsizing in anticipation of the reforms being pushed through by the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, which will shift the lion's share of NHS funds to GPs.

Another cause of the crisis in the hospitals is that they have been prevented from increasing the fees they can charge for treating patients within the NHS's internal market prices. Since they cannot use the price mechanism to cover rising costs, something else has to give. The much bigger problem facing the NHS is that, though the Government has not spared its budget from being cut, it is not adding to it, when the demand for healthcare rises continually as people live longer and expect better health.

The Tory answer to how to meet greater demand with fewer resources is a simplistic "cut the bureaucracy". This is ironic because it was a Tory government which, 25 years go, decided that the NHS was under-managed and recruited a veritable army of managers to run its then newly created internal market. Most people's experience of the NHS is not that it is over-managed, but that it is poorly managed. Cutting their numbers, or shifting managers out of primary care trusts into GP practices, is not going to answer that problem. We cannot run a world-class health service on the cheap.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nicola Sturgeon could have considerable influence over David Cameron in a hung parliament  

General Election 2015: What if Cameron were to end up in hock to the SNP?

Steve Richards
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before