The Wonder of the World it is

More than 60,000 Britons are condemned to an early death every year because of failings by the NHS and other public health bodies, a damning new report reveals.
The shocking findings show that the UK performs worse than almost every other nation in Western Europe – and even former Soviet states such as Slovenia – at keeping alive patients aged under 75.
Just over a third of the 185,500 Britons in that age group who died in 2013 did so needlessly, according to a report comparing all 28 nations in the European Union.

These 63,442 deaths ‘could have been avoided in the light of medical knowledge and technology’, according to experts at Eurostat, the statistical office of the EU. In France, just under a quarter of deaths before the age of 75 were ‘avoidable’.

Sure, it’s free at the point of use, equitable and all sorts of lovely things. It’s just not very good at the actual health care.

44 thoughts on “The Wonder of the World it is”

  1. Very simply to deal with this, ensure that any measure of health care systems rates cost at point of use, equality, diversity and ideological purity as 87.5% of the value of a health care system and the actual health care itself as around 4% of its value.

    Problem solved, the NHS is the wonder of the world, see.

  2. True, but making it not free won’t of itself make it good.

    Nor is it impossible to have effective “free” systems. All those other European countries seem to manage.

    The trick is accountability, whether or not state run.

  3. How many of those early deaths are because NHS doctors at first assumed the most probable diagnoses (leading to a “take paracetamol, come back in a week if it’s not better”) rather than expending resources to rule out the worst stuff first? The former is optimal for reducing costs but doesn’t value the individual much. You’d have thought it’s false economy because something bad is going to get more expensive if uncaught, but at that point they just give you morphine and deny you water…

  4. Bloke Not in North Dorset (in Falmouth marina)

    FoS,

    Are you an Foremn of Signals? It would interesting to fnd another one on here.

  5. Ahoy there, Bloke Not in North Dorset (in Falmouth marina)!

    I’m a Figure of Speech, but I suppose that could just be as well a Foreman of Signals without the diploma…

  6. They get degrees now. Even FoS(IS). Admittedly, it is from Bournemouth University (previously Bournemouth Tech) but hey …

    At least it is better than the Art History degrees most R SIGNALS officers start with.

  7. It’s always fun talking to EU migrants in the UK about their experiences of the NHS. I haven’t heard a positive one yet.

  8. The cause, naturally, is down to lack of capacity and the solution, obviously, is to give the NHS more money.

    Or to reduce the number of languages in which leaflets are printed by 163…

  9. “The cause, naturally, is down to lack of capacity”

    There can never be enough capacity when you give healthcare away for free. Demand is infinite, supply is not.

  10. 63,442. This is akin to economists using decimal points.

    Unless they can produce a list of the names, they are lying. “Lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

  11. Oh Timmy. The NHS is not “free” at the point of use it is “pre=paid”. Surely you see the difference.

  12. This is bollocks Tim W, and surely you know that by now. You should stop making these dishonest attacks on the NHS.

    The statistic quoted is “mortality amenable to healthcare” in 2013. That counts all the deaths from conditions deemed potentially treatable. (Table here, select ‘2013’)

    The biggest single cause of death in that category is ischaemic heart disease, followed by cerebrovascular disease, colorectal cancer, and breast cancer (table here).

    The main reason mortality rates from these conditions differ between different developed nations are different prevalences of the diseases. If we want IHD mortality rates the same as in France Spain, Cyprus and Italy (the four EU countries with the best statistics) we should adopt a Mediterranean diet.

    (The claim that Slovenia does better by this measure than the UK seems to be a straight lie. Table here.)

  13. Talking of lack of funds for the NHS, I hear that at our local clinic for district nurses, all staff are to be issued with tablet computers.

    Tesco? No, silly. iPad Airs…

  14. Not sure I can get my head around the “needless death” count here – just because a disease is theoretically treatable doesn’t mean that treatment has a 100% success rate. Presumably a sensible measurement would be “excess of deaths from treatable diseases, relative to number who would be expected to die if best treatment is applied”. But to do so properly – eg adjusting for the severity of the disease, not everyone who has the same disease is equally ill – would surely be tricky.

  15. NHS is designed for the benefit of the people working within the system. Any incidental healing and care of people is strictly coincidental. From this vantage point, it’s working precisely as designed.

  16. SJW–So your EU buddies are dishonest liars?

    However most socialists are. You yourself are a stats conman.

    All of France and Spain have a Med diet?

  17. Bloke Not in North Dorset (moored in Fowey)

    SE,
    I taught young Signals officers in the late ’80s for a year for my sins. Trying to get them to understand anything technical was a challenge, even binary was beyond some of them.

  18. BigFire has it spot on.

    If someone invented a machine that you walk into, it scanned you, took samples of your bloods and printed out whats wrong with you and what the required treatment was, the NHS (and the unions) would oppose its use on any grounds they could muster, health and safety, cost, the fact it wasn’t made in the UK, anything to stop jobs being cut from the NHS. The fact it would revolutionise healthcare for the patient would be irrelevant. Jobs, fat salaries and pensions are the primary goal.

  19. Oh, fcuk off SJW. You ever lived in any of those countries? The preference of the Spanish, round here, is for large portions of fatty pork & chips. When they can’t afford beef. And vegetables you have to specifically ask for or you probably won’t get them. If they eat fish & salad it’s on top of that, not instead.
    The only people eating “Mediterranean diets” are the tourists.

    Don’t know about Cyprus or Italy but Spain & France have superb hospitals. If you’re used to the NHS, you could easily suffer a shock induced heart attack visiting one.

  20. “The main reason mortality rates from these conditions differ between different developed nations are different prevalences of the diseases”

    Um, why should the RATE of solving the problem of heart disease be different between health systems, other than as an indicator of the efficiency of that health system?

    Yes more people in pure numbers may get heart disease in the UK than Southern Europe, perhaps due to diet, but why should a larger proportion of those British die once they have heart disease?

  21. In fact if anything, a country that has a lot of a certain disease should be better at addressing it due to the economies of scale that (should) apply – if a hospital sees lots of cases of heart disease per week, vs a few every month, then you’d expect the people dealing with those patients, and the systems set up to manage them, would be far superior to ones that only deal with it on an occasional basis.

  22. ‘If we want IHD mortality rates the same as in France Spain, Cyprus and Italy (the four EU countries with the best statistics) we should adopt a Mediterranean diet.’

    You had me going until the Magic Food shit.

  23. Nobody knows why our rates of CVD are higher than France’s. Happily they are declining so quickly that it probably doesn’t matter too much. And I can’t see what bearing it has on the success of treating the condition anyway.

  24. P.S. I’m not a great fan of the NHS: it is a stupid, Stalinist way of trying to do the job. But I wouldn’t myself put much weight on international comparisons: you’re almost never comparing like with like. My pal the Retired Epidemiologist has a wonderful suite of tales to that effect.

  25. why should the RATE of solving the problem of heart disease be different between health systems, other than as an indicator of the efficiency of that health system?

    That’s exactly the point. There’s nothing in these data to say that the rate of solving the problem is different.

  26. All of France and Spain have a Med diet?

    I must say, I had a chuckle at that one. The Savoyarde diet seems to be very unlike a Mediterranean one.

  27. @dearieme et al

    The question is not simply whether the National Health Soupkitchen is better or worse medically than other systems, but what service does it deliver at what the price.

    Here is a costed example from Switzerland, where health care is financially totally transparent.

    http://figures-of-speech.com/2016/03/bedsheet-spreadsheet.htm

    Because the NHS is financially opaque no one knows whether it is good value or not. As you point out, it is normally just anecdote vs. anecdote. At least the current report seems slightly more factual. If it’s killing people, at least it should be doing it cheaply.

  28. “There’s nothing in these data to say that the rate of solving the problem is different.”

    You yourself said there was and the reason why was differing prevalences of the disease?

    And the file you link you (the last one) is actually headed ‘Standardised death RATES’ not absolute numbers, so one can compare across countries with differing populations.

  29. We know the standardised death rates. We don’t know the saved-from-death-by-healthcare rates.

    Let me give you an uncontroversial example of the statistical difficulties. We know that gastric cancer mortality is much higher in Japan (and Korea) than in the West. Is that because the Japanese healthcare system is bad at treating it? No it isn’t, it’s because gastric cancer incidence is much higher there.

    In fact, five-year survival is much better in Japan than in the West. Is that because the Japanese healthcare system is much better at treating it? No, it’s plausible that they’re a bit better at it, but the main difference is that they put a lot of effort into early detection. And if you detect a cancer a year earlier, you extend survival by a year even if the treatment is useless.

    The interpretation of medical statistics is difficult. But you can be sure that anything the Daily Mail says about them will be wrong.

  30. Did you miss a table
    It’s fair to say that my remark about the Mediterranean diet was somewhat speculative. The Mediterranean effect is well established in the literature, but it may be that lifestyle is more important than diet.

  31. “Let me give you an uncontroversial example of the statistical difficulties. We know that gastric cancer mortality is much higher in Japan (and Korea) than in the West. Is that because the Japanese healthcare system is bad at treating it? No it isn’t, it’s because gastric cancer incidence is much higher there.”

    There may be more deaths per capita from gastric cancer in Japan, the point is from the point of view of patient A presenting in Osaka and patient B presenting in Birmingham, who stands the best chance of surviving? Ie the death rate once the illness has been diagnosed, not the death rate per capita calculated before diagnosis. The fact that Japan has more gastric cancer per capita than the UK is irrelevant to a person in either country who has got it, they want to know which system will treat them best, in their known condition.

    The amount of overall deaths from a condition are irrelevant to the survival rates of any given person with that condition, and that is what these Eurostat figures attempt to show – what proportion of people die, having been diagnosed with some sort of illness that a healthcare system ‘should’ cure.

  32. ‘It’s fair to say that my remark about the Mediterranean diet was somewhat speculative.’

    A collector’s item.

  33. Jim: what proportion of people die, having been diagnosed with some sort of illness that a healthcare system ‘should’ cure

    The statistic simply assumes that everyone under 75 who dies of, for example, ischaemic heart disease “should” have been saved by the health service.

    Of course it is very far from being the case, given the current state of medical science, that all such deaths could be prevented. The implication that all the 63,442 deaths could have been avoided using current medical science is bollocks.

  34. We don’t measure the NHS’s value in Quality-Adjusted Life Years. We measure it in our subjective experiences.

    Typically that means ringing up a GP, being told to wait two weeks for an appointment, then being told: “oh it’s probably nothing, and we’re not going to bother to do any tests“. That’s a terrible customer experience.

  35. “The statistic simply assumes that everyone under 75 who dies of, for example, ischaemic heart disease “should” have been saved by the health service.

    Of course it is very far from being the case, given the current state of medical science, that all such deaths could be prevented. The implication that all the 63,442 deaths could have been avoided using current medical science is bollocks.”

    Of course they couldn’t all have been prevented, that would be impossible. However such a statistic does allow us to compare with other healthcare systems – how many of the ‘theoretically’ preventable deaths do they actually prevent. And the stats clearly show that the NHS does worse than most of the other large European healthcare systems, it prevents fewer of ‘preventable’ deaths than they do.

  36. And the stats clearly show that the NHS does worse than most of the other large European healthcare systems, it prevents fewer of ‘preventable’ deaths than they do.

    No they don’t. There’s no information in those statistics about the incidence of the conditions. If all the healthcare systems were identical, the country with the highest incidence would have the worst statistic.

  37. Which bit of ‘These stats are standardised RATES, not absolute numbers’ don’t you understand?

  38. Surely, Timothy, you should be using your usual tricks.

    How many human transactions does the NHS do per day?

    Do you actually know anything about the NHS or do you rely on the Daily Mail for your blog content. Mind you, you wouldn’t be the first. There’s some true fuckwittery just like yours.

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