The NHS is great and terrible

15 July 2017, 20:46 | Updated: 15 July 2017, 20:51


Despite what you may have heard and in spite what you may have experienced, the NHS is the tip-toppest health service in all the world, so there.

The Commonwealth Fund has looked into it and that's what they say. They do not have anything to do with the actual Commonwealth; they are a private American think tank, born of oil money that purports to work for the advancement of health outcomes, specifically for the poor.

They rated eleven countries for the standard of their health services and found that America was the worst, especially for the poor.

This is not surprising. American health care for the poor consists mostly of being refused admission to hospital and being invited to die in the car park. This is called "choice" by the Republicans.

Their thinking is that America's poor have chosen not be rich and so their option is to have no health care at all.

Considering the battering it gets, it is surprising is that of those carefully selected eleven countries, our own NHS was considered the best.

Australia, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Canada and France were the countries that occupied the positions between The UK and the USA, in that order.

They looked at eleven categories and we came top in four of them, securing our number one position.

Not even Ed Sheeran has had such chart success.

We came first in safest care, care processes, affordability and equity.

Two of the four categories we shone in were down to our free-at-the-point-of-use policy.

Of course we are more affordable than they others, because you don't get a bill when you leave an NHS hospital, and of course we won on the most equity of our care because you do not get screened for wealth or insurance before they treat you.

This was all reported with great fanfare by our press which used it to bludgeon the complainers who say that the NHS is in crisis.

They failed to note the irony that it is mostly the press that has been doing the complaining.

The one small fly in the ointment that they failed to put in their headlines was the NHS score for health outcomes.

This is the measure of how successful is the treatment we get from our health service. On that score we were second bottom.

I think that means that we will be seen by our medics and we will not be discriminated against as to the treatment that we receive but that we probably won't get well when we receive it.

The five year survival rates for breast and bowel cancer and deaths among people admitted to hospital after a stroke, for instance, are very poor compared to those other countries on the list.

That seems to be something of a problem when it comes to rating our health care as excellent.

When you are ill, our NHS will treat you commendably quickly and fairly but you might not survive long enough to celebrate that fact.

But don't worry; it is not as bad as that. It's worse.

The Legatum Institute, a London-based research institute released its 10th annual global Prosperity Index in November, 2016, a huge survey that ranks the most prosperous countries in the world.

One of the big components of the ranking is how healthy a country's people are, measured by three key components: a country's basic mental and physical health, health infrastructure, and the availability of preventative care.

Guess where we were in their list of the top 16 performing countries?

That's right: nowhere.

We came in at a lowly 20th place for health, behind all of the countries we supposedly beat in the Commonwealth Fund's list.

This is doubly disappointing as the relative wealth of each country is factored in, and as we are continuously told, we are the fifth richest economy on earth.

The US, again, came way down the list at number 32.

The lesson is, if you get sick, you should do so in the world that the Commonwealth Fund inhabits but don't expect to make it your next birthday.

In fact, the real lesson is, if you get sick, don't do it in America.