Polly is a national treasure!

This piece of Polly\’s is quite wonderful.

She (accurately) points out that rational organisation of the hospital system gets derailed by grandstanding politicians.

Places which are too small to be doing the safe number of operations of a certain type (no, you really don\’t want to have your aortic aneurism fixed where they only try to fix five a year. You want surgeons and teams with rather more experience than that) should specialise. Aneurisms at this place, heart ops at that and hips in that one over there.

But when you try to actually bring this about you get politicians appearing at the heads of angry mobs shouting \”Save Our Hospital!\”.

OK, well done, good analysis.

But she doesn\’t seem to make the connection between this and the fact that all things which are subject to the manipulations of electoral politics will be similarly badly managed. Doesn\’t allow this insight to change her long held view that huge chunks of life should indeed be run by such grandstanding politicians and the mobs they can command.

The only way to avoid this is to have such services not run by politicians: which means, in effect, being run by markets.

7 thoughts on “Polly is a national treasure!”

  1. Ah yes, by lazily conflating “politicians” with government you have created a nice little story for yourself. While apparently forgetting that one of the jobs of government is to mediate a set of conflicting interests, and to try and fashion acceptable outcomes. An alternative conclusion from this story, of course, is to make sure that government is strong enough to stop grandstanding individual politicians from pursuing their own small-scale interests at the expense of everyone else. One can argue about the relative merits of markets v government in the provision of healthcare, but this blog sheds no useful light.

  2. In principle, yes. The difficulty is that politicians insinuate themselves into the decision-making process for the opening and closing of private enterprises as well.

  3. Absolutely right Tim. The state has no business acting as a healthcare provider.For the left, of course, it’s about ideology, not quality. State provision fundamentally changes the relationship between the citizen and the state, turning the citizen from a free individual into a mere supplicant.

  4. Great in theory. But the geniuses who run my hospital decide to move around the specialities every 6 months. Perhaps this year it’s time for the ENT team to swap with the urologists…Each time it happens, half the surgeons walk out in disgust and go private. Disaster.

  5. Does anyone believe that if the hospitals in Staffordshire had been subject to competition they would have allowed old ladies to die in bed in pools of their own excrement?

    The only people who believe in the NHS are idealogues (like Polly), people who will never have to die in an NHS hospital (like Polly) and the truly stupid.

  6. I find it hard not to conflate politicians with government given that they are the same thing.

    Politicians, in or out of government will try to transfer resources to their chosen interest group if they judge that will help them get re-elected. This isn’t a left-right issue, political decisions on NHS spending must be perverted by political needs.

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