Oh dearie me Polly

It\’s all ideology: new research in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine this week shows the UK is among the most efficient health services in the world, in lives saved per pound spent.

Umm, no, the report doesn\’t in fact show that.

At least, if I\’m reading it right, I don\’t think it does say that.

Cost-effectiveness is taken as the relation between
economic input and clinical output based upon a
calculation of a ratio of the average GDPHE and
the reduced mortality rate over the period. The
greater the ratio the more cost-effective is that
country’s reduction of mortality rate.

They are not looking at the price per life saved. They\’re looking at the changes in the cost per life saved. By analogy with a car, they\’re looking at acceleration, not average speed.

Countries are ranked by the highest average GDP
over the period (1980–2005) (Table 1).
Total GDPHE: In 1980 the highest GDPHE percentages
were in Sweden (9%), USA (8.8%) and

Germany (8.7%), the lowest being 5.3% in Spain
and 5.6% in both Portugal and the UK.
By the end of the period GDPHE had risen
in every country, except Ireland, the current
highest being the USA (15.3%), Switzerland
(11.6%) and France (11.1%), and the lowest being
Finland and Ireland (7.5%) and Japan (8%). The
Western countries current average of 9.7% is
above the UK’s 9.3%, which is 10th highest of
19 countries.

One of the things you\’ll note is that the NHS had one of the larger rises in health care expenditure as a percentage of GDP. So we would rather expect to see one of the larger changes in health care outcomes, no?

Please note that I\’m not trying to deny that the NHS is efficient: nor state that it\’s not efficient. Only that the report does not say what Polly says it does: it is measuring changes in efficiency, not absolute levels of it.

Oh, and what is the major change that we\’ve seen over the decades in the NHS? Yes, that\’s right, more markets, more marketisation, less direct control from Whitehall.

And increases in effciency.

Ho hum.

8 thoughts on “Oh dearie me Polly”

  1. So African healthcare is the best in the world as one can hugely improve mortality very cheaply by handing out antimalarials, vaccines antibiotics etc?

  2. “@James_P According to Polly – yes.”

    I don’t think there’s any “according to” with Polly. She has no reasoning ability at all: she can even contradict herself within the same piece. I’ve come to the conclusion over the years that she’s just a bit thick, but because she made her name in the social science arena (at the BBC) she’s been able to hide it.

  3. Don’t think she’s thick, KT. Just very deeply dishonest.
    What’s being described is the standard Polly technique of journalism. Take any dense enough piece of research & selectively quote from it to substantiate whatever position she’s currently advocating. Essentially, it’s the same shill as the double-glazing companies use to prove with U-values & argon filled panes that their product results in 110% energy savings. But easier, for her, because her mugs are overwhelmingly keen on being mugged. For them her waffle gives them a pseudo-logical framework to hang their prejudices on.
    There’s little point in arguing against her in the CiF comments because there’s no basis of argument to start with. As far as she’s concerned it’s like pointing out to the three card trick man that the elusive queen’s up his sleeve. That’s the essence of the exercise. To her fan club & gullible readers there’s no interest in logical discussion because if their was they’d have spotted the flaws themselves.
    To me, the real mystery is that she’s treated with respect by her fellow journalists & columnists. On the other hand, the Johann Hari episode tells us a lot about where their interests lie. If the illusion of the Emperor’s clothes is pointed out, attention might just turn to the raiment of the rest of the court.

    I know this view isn’t shared by Tim or other commentators but I still stick with my theory that Murphy’s trying to be another Polly. I appreciate IanB’s argument that there’s a logical consistency to Murphy’s bullsh*t & non-conformism puritanism etc. But why can’t Murphy be bright enough to read the same stuff & base his philosophy on it if that’s what the gig requires. If he’s got a fault, it’s he then tries to argue his case with critics & ties himself up in knots with the inconsistencies. What he doesn’t understand & a seasoned con-artist like Polly does is that the mugs, left to get on with it, will talk themselves into believing any rubbish & the world’s got an inexhaustible supply of mugs.

  4. bloke: I do actually think she’s thick. Her unpersuadability is what makes her stupid. I know John Maynard Keynes may not be in particularly good odour round these parts, but one of the smartest things ever said was, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” Polly either ignores the facts or insists they are somehow different from actuality. An inability to accurately process reality is a hallmark of low intelligence. She might be book-smart (although I’ll wager I’m at least as well-read as she, and hugely, unbridgeably more numerate.) But she’s thick. Her mind is refractory to counter-argument. And that, in my book, makes her an idiot.

  5. but I still stick with my theory that Murphy’s trying to be another Polly.

    Well, I’d go along with that theory.

    I appreciate IanB’s argument that there’s a logical consistency to Murphy’s bullsh*t & non-conformism puritanism etc.

    I’d never claim that he’s logically consistent, or logical, or consistent, rather that his confused melange of beliefs is pretty much classic christian socialist in derivation.

    Talking of which, Polly of the Toynbee dynasty got her start by going to live among the proleteriat for, ooh, several weeks, round about the same time as “Up The Junction”, by way of coincidence, discovered that she didn’t like working for a living, then scuttled off back to the bourgeoisie to write tracts about how ghastly it is being poor, and she knows because she once pretended to be for several weeks, and has been doing it ever since.

  6. but I still stick with my theory that Murphy’s trying to be another Polly.

    Well, I’d go along with that theory.

    I appreciate IanB’s argument that there’s a logical consistency to Murphy’s bullsh*t & non-conformism puritanism etc.

    I’d never claim that he’s logically consistent, or logical, or consistent, rather that his confused melange of beliefs is pretty much classic christian socialist in derivation.

    Talking of which, Polly of the Toynbee dynasty got her start by going to live among the proleteriat for, ooh, several weeks, round about the same time as “Up The Junction”, by way of coincidence, discovered that she didn’t like working for a living, then scuttled off back to the bourgeoisie to write tracts about how ghastly it is being poor, and she knows because she once pretended to be for several weeks, and has been doing it ever since.

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