There is nothing to celebrate, nothing to be smug about, when another place’s publicly funded healthcare system is in deep trouble. This should be the case wherever that unfortunate place is, including England!
However, as Scotland’s NHS is berated endlessly for its performance by the corporate media, BBC Scotland and of course Labour, Tory and Lib Dem politicians, it seems perfectly reasonable to take every opportunity to put all their negativity within some sort of ‘context’. It is reasonable to look for ‘perspective’.
A recent (15 February) publication by the House of Commons Library (HoCL) gives such an opportunity. Entitled ‘NHS Key Statistics: England, February 2022’ it:
‘.. gives a summary of statistics for the NHS in England in the following broad areas:
- Demand for emergency and planned hospital care, and measures of NHS capacity, pressures, and backlogs
- Waiting times and other performance measures for acute care
- Staff numbers: doctors, nurses, GPs, and other staff groups, plus vacancies.’
The value of this HoCL report is: (a) it gives ready access to a comprehensive collation of NHS England statistics; (b) it provides useful time series data presentations; and (c) it comes from an authoritative organisation, and one distant from Scottish politics and that can hardly be doubted by Unionists. For these reasons it should prove a very valuable resource for further research into comparisons between NHS England and the NHS elsewhere in the UK across a broad front.
Whilst hoping this new, readily accessible data compilation will catalyse more comparative analyses, one always has to remember that it is ONLY the government in charge of NHS England that is unfettered in terms of agency when it comes to resourcing improvements in its national health service.
Just a sample
What follows is a small example of the rich seam of statistics and insights that the new HoCL report provides. Overall it reveals a healthcare system in England that has struggled, and has evidently failed, to keep up with demand and/or process effectiveness throughout the period of Tory governments in Westminster. (Did the great Tory silver bullet of ‘competition’ at the core of the Lansley reforms – remember the hype around them? – fail miserably?)
And on the great NHS England ‘obfuscation’, aka the 12 waiting time performance statistic, the HoCL report has this:
But crucially on this 12 hour measure it then adds: ‘Data is recorded on how long patients wait for emergency admission to hospital. This is measured from the time that a decision to admit is made, which would usually not be the same time as when they arrived at the A&E or hospital. This means that for many patients this measure is an underestimate of their total wait in hospital before admission.’ Here on TuS this ‘obfuscation’ has been exposed time after time after time!
And more on this 12 hour wait for admission after a decision to admit: ‘Such occurrences were once rare – between 2011 and 2014 (inclusive) there were a total of 915 such cases in England. However, they have since become more common, and in the single month of January 2022 there were 16,558 such waits – eighteen times more than the total for the four years spanning 2011-2014. In the whole of 2014, there were 489 twelve-hour waits for admission, but in January 2022, there was an average of 534 such waits every day.’
And finally, please recall ..
Whatever the performance of the NHS in Scotland – or indeed in Wales or NI – it is ONLY the government in charge of NHS England that is unfettered in terms of agency when it comes to resourcing and improving its national health service.
And one last thing, recall this from PM Johnson in the House of Commons back in October 2019: ‘… the lamentable failures of the SNP Government in Scotland and he’s entirely right. If this goes on I think the SNP will forfeit all right to manage the NHS in Scotland.’