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Monday, 12 February 2007


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Just out of interest, is the cover provided by your private insurance in addition to, or instead of, the cover provided by the NHS?

It covers anything and, of course, I can choose to go private or go NHS. In order to reduce the premiums, I pay the first £1,000 of any claim, but by now, adding up the savings on the premiums over recent years I have already covered the grand.

Well one obvious difference between a hospital and M+S is that if M+S stays open it generates revenue from people buying stuff, but a hospital collects no revenue from its "customers". Hence staying open longer can generate revenue for M+S, even whilst their operating costs increase, and thus until the marginal revenue falls below the marginal cost it is worth them staying open. However a hospital can only stay open for as long as it has the money. Logically this means if we want our hospitals to stay open longer we either give them more funds, or allow them to generate the revenue to cover their increased costs in another fashion.

There are other differences between a hospital and a shop as well, a shop is defined as successful if lots of people are inside it, whereas a hospital full of sick people is a sign of a health service failure. Hospitals are there as a last resort. If we operate a health service as profit maximising businesses then to make money we’d need to fill themselves, perform unnecessary procedures, and prescribe drugs left, right and centre. Then we couldn’t really be honest and claim it to be a health service; instead we’d have created a disease industry.

Well done, 'PS', what fun it is to watch you blunder through life missing point after point. For example, 'a hospital collects no revenue from its "customers"'. Now then, can you smell the coffee? No? Would you like a little hint, then? Try putting a cash register in every ward and even letting the employees in on a bit of profit sharing. Do you know, those operating theatres would be going scalpel and forceps night and day! Waiting lists would vanish like morning mist.

"But wot about the poor people?", I hear you cry. Well, the single most important thing next to health treatment is eating. Are there waiting lists at Tescos? Do Sainsburys shut at 4.00 pm because their overheads have gone up? Do poor people starve to death? (Well, yes, actually a tiny number do but most of them are elderly patients in our wonderful NHS ["The Envy of the World - yaddah-yaddah] who die because lazy, useless nurses don't bother to check their food intake.)

Am I getting through, 'PS'? Most people would budget for their health care just as they budget for their food if only some lying liars didn't tell them that health care is 'free'. There's no such thing as a free lunch - or a free operation!

Probably apropos of nothing much, but a few years back the M&S here in sunny Bath extended itself into the adjacent building, pretty much doubling the size of the shop.

Then, as we know, M&S' profits and share price promptly went down the tubes and - within a year - this particular branch had retreated back into its old footprint, with its metaphorical tail between its legs. So yes, that does happen.

And please, don't think for a minute I'm having a go at the idea of private medicine. I'm just pointing out that the private sector is just as capable of pissing away people's time and money as the Government. And I suspect that people would generally react rather differently if they saw a shiny new hospital, rather than a dull clothes shop, being turned into a card shop so soon after it opened.

What d'you reckon?

Exactly so, 'NIB', because, of course, we were all rushing off to BHS, or where-ever, to find better value, thus forcing M&S to buck their ideas up which they now appear to have done. If only it we had that system in the provision of health services. Dream on!

Well Duff, if you want to offer any evidence regarding the superiority of (pure) free market provision of healthcare V state run healthcare - from the perspective of the poor -be my guest.

Sorry for the delay in replying, 'PS', affairs at Elsinore are a distraction at the moment.

Anyway, I gave you the evidence above. The single most important requirement for all living things is to eat. Here in Britain we have, thank God and Adam Smith, a (relatively) free market in the supply of food. Even our beggars are always very fit-looking under their carefully composed rags! Do we see poor people keeling over in the streets from hunger? We do not.

If, 'PS', you think that the state provides better health services than the private sector, one is entitled to ask whether you would advocate the nationalisation of Tesco, Sainsburys, M&S, 'et al' so that the state can take over the provision of food for its citizens? Do you think Whitehall would do a better job than Waitrose?

Anyway, it's all academic. The NHS is doomed! The internal contradictions which are obvious to everyone except purblind socialists are bringing it irrevocably closer to implosion. And the sooner the better!

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