Health, housing and adult social services

Poor health

Remember Gordon Brown’s windy rhetoric in Bournemouth last week:

So let me set out how we take the NHS into a new era.

Our great achievement of the 1940s was a service universal to all. In 2007 we need a service that is accessible to all and personal to all.

Our great ambition now: a National Health Service that is also a personal health service.

Today both the Telegraph and the Guardian are reporting how far the NHS needs to travel if it is to get to the point where it is valued by its customers in the way that health systems are valued in the wealthiest countries of Europe. Both of these newspaper reports are based on a report from an organisation called Health Consumer Powerhouse.

European health league table

It is clear from the table above (click to enlarge) that the UK is not getting value from its healthcare system. Three groups are apparent. The elite group of wealthy countries have scores in the range 687 to 806. These are the countries you might expect to have good health systems, the Nordics, Austria, Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Germany Belgium and Luxembourg. It is a national scandal that the UK is not in this group.

Instead we languish in a group of countries that were until recently considered to be the poor men of Europe. Between Lithuania at 496 and Estonia at 633 there are fifteen countries. The UK is scored at 581 which puts it bang in the middle of a group of countries which we might once, in our arrogance, have written off as “poor Mediterraneans” or “former Soviet block”.

We are just not getting value for our health spending. Brown has had ten years. Brown has spent the money. Brown has failed.

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