Andrew Lansley was interviewed by the BBC’s Nick Robinson just 2 days ago about changing the NHS. Lansley says that introducing competition into the state-run, taxpayer-funded NHS is about “competition for quality not competition for price”. What Lansley should be saying is competition for value, which is an indivisible combination of price and quality. If anything, the NHS should determine quality standards and allow competition on price. This would be entirely consistent and coherent with what they already do with drugs companies and any other organisation wanting to supply health services; who cannot compromise on quality and so have to compete on price,
Lansley further declares that the NHS is “driven by evidence” and that it “establishes an NHS price”. Economists, competitive capitalists and even the ordinary ‘man’ in the street know that when price is determined by a politicised bureaucracy, rather than a free market, poor societal value is likely to be the outcome.
There is still, of course, a serious question here about the most appropriate economic philosophy, organisational entity and HR strategy for running the NHS but Lansley has obviously not come up with the answer yet. So, rather than resuscitating the NHS, when a Health Secretary utters such nonsense we are more likely witnessing its final death throes.