There are two new polls tonight – a new ComRes telephone poll for the Independent has topline figures of CON 37%(+3), LAB 37%(nc), LDEM 12%(-3), Others 14%(nc). Changes are from the last ComRes poll conducted by telephone a month ago, rather than their parallel online polls for the Independent on Sunday. It’s the first time this year that ComRes have produced a poll without a Labour lead.

Meanwhile YouGov’s daily poll in the Sun has topline figures of CON 37%, LAB 42%, LDEM 9%. YouGov had also been showing a narrowing Labour lead earlier in May, but it seems to have disappeared over the last few polls.

(I do not have regular internet access this week, so updates will be few and far between, and I will not be monitoring comments)


396 Responses to “New ComRes and YouGov polls”

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  1. Private equity investors. Good or bad for the country ?

    From what I can see, I am not sure whether such investors actually help UK GDP.

    Perhaps situations like Southern Cross care home are bound to receive more press, than good news stories where /wealth/jobs have been created

  2. Reposted due to possible word moderation:

    @Colin – “Thirs was an unbelievably flawed model though-to have over 30,000 vulnerable old people living in leased premises should not have been allowed.”

    I agree with your post, but the phrase ‘any willing provider’ springs to my mind.

    Southern Cross (and quite possibly the Bristol abuse case) are the inevitable results of profit driven investment in health provision. The overarching driving factor is to increase margins to suppy the investors with a return, so costs are squeezed, whether that is a half baked deal on land and rental costs or driving down labour costs and ending up with a deskilled and inappropriate staff network.

    The reason why Cameron has come forward with an ill defined and unspecified ‘guarantee’ to the Southern Cross residents is that he knows that seeing 30,000 elderly people evicted from the care homes so the city investors can have their assets back is just the kind of summer new story opponents of his NHS bill would benefit from.

    ‘Lansley Crucified on Southern Cross’ might make a good headline for someone.

  3. LordTory

    “Lloyd George knew my great grandfather’s cat” scans better than the first line of the old song, but is a little more difficult for the second line.

  4. @LordTory
    “However, I am teased by your comment to Mike N. Who does he think I might be, Reinhardt Heydrich ?”

    Any reason for your particular selection of bete noire over, say, Adolf Eichmann or Hermann Goering? Might it have had something to do with the initials?

  5. @R HUCKLE
    I think you ask very intelligent question here. Whilst I agree
    with the sentiments of Alec and Colin about this disgusting affair, we must be careful not “write of” the private equity concept in every facet of health. As if Cameron had not got enough difficulty selling NHS reform, this matter will merge into one giant anti – Tory
    anti – privatisation bean feast for Labour. Already I note a poster from Wales, implies this disgrace is somehow a Tory failure. Please don’t anyone forget some of the similar scandals which have occurred in NHS hospitals.

  6. Alex

    Good headline. :-)

  7. LordTory

    “Please don’t anyone forget some of the similar scandals which have occurred in NHS hospitals.”

    But I have seen rabid Tories using these stories about NHS hospitals as ammunition in their ideological war against the state running things.

    Neither stance will help to improve conditions for those requiring care.

  8. @phil
    Sorry Phil I can make no sense of that. I would normally have said Laventry Beria, but when it comes to mass killers, its only the ones on the right who get the super star treatment.

  9. @Alex
    With such latent talent, a career beckons for you as a newspaper sub-editor.

    (BTW it’s meant as a compliment, not an insult)

  10. @old nat
    Agreed.

  11. @Lordtory – “Please don’t anyone forget some of the similar scandals which have occurred in NHS hospitals”

    I would very much echo @Oldnat’s response to this comment.

    The point I was originally making is that people involved in city finance and, it seems, the Tory and Lib Dem parties, are telling us that they believe the myth that private provision will inherently provide better and cheaper health services than traditional NHS mechanisms precisely because the free market is a better system at delivering outcomes.

    We have already witnessed, and largely forgotten, the complete failure of free markets in global finance. These scandals are ample evidence that the simplistic notion that private is best is wildly wrong.

    The next step in this story for the coalition (much harder now they are in government) and supporters of privatisation is to do what they did with the banking crisis and somehow remove blame from the free market agents and seek to heap the blame on the regulators for the failure of a mechanism they adore.

  12. @Phil – thanks. I’ve copyrighted the line, so if it appears in tomorrow’s Telegraph I’ll sue the pants off the b*st*rds.

  13. @LordTory
    I’m reassured that you can’t. Let’s just say that the initials RH became a tad notorious on this board a while back.

  14. @Alec
    I agreed with your earlier comment, or most of it. I have agreed with OLD NAT’s observation about a combination being required. Before we run away with the mangle on this issue, let us remember the plight of the very old and mentally sick in Eastern Europe before and after the wall came down. Scenes of the sickening ill treatment of human beings were on offer from virtually every “care” institution in 5 or 6 countries. The same group of countries with their gigantic mother ship were all utterly broke and disintegrating. Those who see every bend in the road as a reason to “change the system” , particularly when that means very heavy state control should read a history book.

  15. @Alec
    “… and seek to heap the blame on the regulators for the failure of a mechanism they adore”

    What regulators? Haven’t you heard the mantra that regulation of private sector providers is one of those worthless back office functions that should be the focus of so called “efficiency savings”?

  16. @phil
    The regulator specifically set up by Chancellor Brown to regulate financial markets, was most certainly not deprived of funds for anything. In first class Brown tradition
    the employees of this ever growing empire, became more and more powerful and omnipotent . What a service they rendered the nation.

  17. Don’t think anyone picked up my earlier post regarding the manufacturing data, but I’ve had a chance to look harder at it and it looks very serious indeed.

    According to the survey yesterday, the trend of sharp decline in manufacturing continued in May and in terms of actual output and new orders the sector is now contracting. The decline in new orders suggests this will accelerate if anything, and if this continues in the June data the odds are the the Q2 GDP figures will be negative.

    We wouldn’t be alone in this – Denmark is back in double dip recession and global figures yesterday were very poor. Whatever the rights and wrongs of austerity and the ultimate responsibility for the mess we are in, I think the odds are now very strong that Cameron and Osborne are about to face an almighty storm over their stewardship of the economy.

    They inherited a difficult situation, internationally as much as in domestic terms, but as with so many things, it was Cameron’s PR based politicking that will strangle the government. If I were Ed M, I would be preparing to endlessly replay Cameron’s ‘we’ve brought the economy out of the dangerzone’ quote and beat him mercilessly with it.

    Osborne’s laissez faire growth policy of hoping the pound stays low and not bothering to promote training and investment is now being savagely exposed for the useless ‘fingers crossed and keep whistling happily’ policy that it really is, and his reputation for economic competence is about to be trashed.

    I have plenty of sympathy for the situation they find themselves in, but not for the way they have handled it. Cameron’s short term desire for a headline always trumps any sense of strategic direction. His 24hr headline message on the economy will be no better than his ‘cast iron guarantee’ on Lisbon, but this one will hang round his neck like an albatross for a lot longer.

  18. @ALEC
    Can I suggest you go for the Mail rather than the Telegraph. “Lansley crucified on Southern Cross, Kate watches, wearing a Versace blazer in coral with white Stella McCartney jeans and Jimmy Choo crocodile loafers”.

  19. Alec

    Souhern Cross went wrong the moment Blackstone restructured it as a tenant, rather thah a freeeholder.
    I hope the appropriate licencing authorities have taken note.

    THis was a disaster waiting to happen from the pre Credit Crunch era .

    I don’t accept that “the Bristol abuse case was “the inevitable results of profit driven investment in health provision.”.

    It is clear now that the regulator CCQ failed-despite warnings. This sort of abuse is not confined to the private sector-and the vulnerability of disabled people to mindless abuse is ubiquitous-and those charged with protecting them fail time & time again.

    The failure of the police to protect Fiona PIlkington is yet another example , as IPCC’s report made clear last week.

    There is nothing wrong per se with private sector provision of public services. But it must be adequately monitored for risk & appropriate quality standards-particularly where vulnerable people are involved.

    That is the job of The State.

  20. Colin
    “There is nothing wrong per se with private sector provision of public services.”

    Just suppose, just for a moment, that privatised services cost the Tax Payers more and provide a worse service AND have to be bailed out when things go wrong.

    Would there be something wrong with them then?

    But why you ask would somebody privatise a function where everybody loses except the new service provider?

    That would be mad, wouldn’t it?

    Unless the decision maker(s) stood to make some money too…or Party funded perhaps.

    Now find me a creditable study that shows privatisation either saves money or reduces risk for the tax payer.

  21. I think the train of thought that leads some people to believe state run, state controlled enterprise, is organically “better” than privately owned enterprise, is pure left wing dogma. As a result of the revelations in today’s newspapers, suddenly, all failure by the NHS, police, social services, department of education ect ect, is forgotten. The question is, can we even trust the state to regulate effectively ?

  22. @SOCAL:

    “1. I have to say that the idea that the England and Wales high courts have to give permission to the UK Supreme Court before the UK Supreme Court is kinda ridiculous. I am not a judge but I know this about judges, they do NOT like getting reversed. And if given the option, most will not give permission to be overturned.

    2. Notwithstanding my opinion that this concept is ridiculous, I’m all for equal opportunity crazy. Scottish judges should get the same privilege as English judges and Welsh judges. “

    Actually, the UK Supreme Court does NOT need permission from an English/Welsh court to hear a case. The SC can overturn any refusal to allow further appeal made by an English/Welsh court.

    There may also be more to the UKSC ‘taking’ Scottish cases but I only have Wiki to go from:

    From the Court of Session, permission to appeal is not required and any case can proceed to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom if two Advocates [Scot equiv to Barristers] certify that an appeal is suitable.

    and

    The right of appeal to the UK Supreme Court only exists when the Court of Session grants leave to this effect or when the decision of the Inner House is by majority.

    Feel free to explore for yourself and find out the full facts!

  23. lordtory

    I think state run services are often cheaper, better and more easily regulated and allow for more flexible control of spending and policy.

    This is especially true where monopoly utility services are concerned and competition is artificial, such as water, energy, rail etc.

  24. @Colin – “I don’t accept that “the Bristol abuse case was “the inevitable results of profit driven investment in health provision.”.”

    Agreed – I did somewhere imply that there was a possible conection, but I didn’t wish it to be seen as my view that there certainly was.

    Bottom line is that private provision is not the panacea some would have us believe, and that disasters can happen under any system.

    However, we have been told repeatedly that the disciplines of market choice and profit driven reform are absolutely essential to the future of the NHS (‘reform or die, as Lansley said only last night). I remain unconvinced that there is anything inherently better in private provision than in the public sector.

  25. @nick poole
    Well, I think the least damaging answer to your comment is, I don’t agree. I am not being horrendously right wing and Thatcherite about the thing, but I really feel that so many public sector institutions just larf and grow fat. Certainly, your choice of energy is a poor one in my case, Lady Tory has changed our provider about 4 times due to more competitive offers.

  26. Alec (and others)

    Colin is right – this idea that Private Sector involvement in the NHS is inherently wrong is totally misguided. Also, as Cameron/Lansley are saying (they should have been saying it much louder right at the start, they underestimated the scale of the delusion about the NHS), the NHS is not only already unwieldy, it’s on the verge of being so unaffordable it will fall apart without genuine reform.

    In Germany, a society which many would argue has a better overall health service than Britain’s (and retains universal access), Just 31 % of hospitals are owned by the government, Fractionally more, 32% and – significantly – rising are owned by ‘for profit’ firms and 37% are owned by the not-for-profit charitable sector. Over there, it’s outcomes and best value for taxpayers money that counts. The idea that the state must own all hospitals is seen as weird, redolent of an archaic worldview.

  27. @BT

    Totally agree. Our obsession with a state-financed and -run NHS is bringing it down.

    The Netherlands recently switched to an all-private healthcare system (with protections such as no insurance company can turn down an applicant for pre-existing illnesses etc.) and has one of the best health services in the world.

    The French system, also highly regarded, has a far higher private sector involvement than the UK.

  28. @Colin
    “I don’t accept that “the Bristol abuse case was “the inevitable results of profit driven investment in health provision.”

    There was certainly nothing inevitable about it. But I trust that you do accept that once an artificial arms-length separation is put into effect between the public commissioning body and the private sector provider, then the risks associated with poor monitoring of contract standards multiply. And if there is a parallel focus on “light touch” regulation driven by a drive for financial savings as well as free market dogma, then the associated risks start to multiply exponentially.

  29. I believe the problem with Private Sector involvement in the Public Sector is that the Public Sector is so horribly bad at managing these things. There need to be strict and well considered service level agreements, clearly defined metrics for measurement, pre-defined penalties for service level failures, clauses to allow contract cancellation for non-delivery etc. But that just doesn’t happen.

    I work for an IT outsourcing company, and when on a Private Sector contract there are whole departments dedicated to ensure that these things are clear and watertight, backed up by statistics and auditing, and with outside specialist companies who advise on drawing up and enforcing the contracts. But then private companies have years of experience in doing these things so it’s no surprise they do it well. When on a Government contract though I find they just don’t have the staff with the experience needed to set all this up properly. SLA agreements are often poorly considered and frequently don’t encourage the behaviour they are designed to promote, governance is poor, metrics confused and meaningless etc. Despite private involvement in the state for decades now, it appears we haven’t addressed the core issue of training the public sector in how to manage third parties. Of course, this is a ‘back office’ function and likely to be cut even further!

    If we want to increase private sector involvement in the public sector, we first have to train the pubic sector in how to manage it or there will always be companies willing to take advantage of poor governance.

    Of course, if the public sector could manage these things effectively there might not be any need for private sector involvement in the first place!

  30. @BT says
    “the NHS is not only already unwieldy, it’s on the verge of being so unaffordable….”

    If Germany is your role model, then our current levels of expenditure on health care are very affordable indeed.

  31. @bt & steve
    Anything which attempts to genuinely modify the Anurin Bevan 1948 model is wrong. It is an example of “worse than vermin” Tories wrecking the workers healthcare.
    I don’t know if either of you are old enough to remember “reds under the bed”, this is blues under the stretcher.

    The comment that this monstrous behemoth must change or it will sink the British Isles, is never taken seriously. Where will it end?

  32. @PHIL
    Germany is a much more populous, much more wealthy country. We are struggling, we are attempting to cease struggling, however, the health service we have, in the country we inhabit is unaffordable. Whatever precious memories there may be in certain circles, of a Welsh Labour MP founding the NHS, we can no longer afford this ridiculous political football in its present guise. I may as well say, “in 1945 under Mr Churchill, the RAF had 2000 bombers and 1500 fighters, we should still have them now”

  33. Phil

    Germany is not my role model. but you miss the point regardless.

    NHS is getting less and less efficient/value-for-money as its budget expands more and more. Whether or not a few aspects of care are improving isn’t the point either, its efficiency isn’t. Finally the mushroom will have to disintegrate if left to keep growing, even leading to ‘free at the point of use’ being compromised.

    To try and reduce/simplify the discussion at this stage to how much of GDP is spent on the NHS is a bit desperate, don’t you think? :)

    Sooner or later Labour will have to come to terms with the fact that Labour aren’t the only party with the capability of reforming the NHS.
    Frankly, they had their chance under Blair and blew it, sweeping the elephant under the carpet as they went.

  34. Lord Tory/Phil

    Furthermore, if 1) The electorate get the message that the NHS can’t stay as it is even if David B on this site thinks it can; and 2) the reforms are even half successful; then Conservatives will emerge with credit/stronger polling figures.

    This is what the left dreads, which is why they want to stir up hysteria and kill the reforms in the water, let the NHS deteriorate further and then blame the Tories for letting our national treasure die as if it were all their fault. (Then Gordon will come back and save the world a second time! :) )

    Just trying to get things back on polling terms for the integrity of this site. :)

  35. @Steve – interesting comparison between UK and netherlands healthcare. In 2006 (last date I can find figures for) the Netherlands spend 9.5% GDP on healthcare while UK spent 8.4%. In UK terms that difference amounts to £17.6b or around 20% of the entire NHS budget.

    I don’t think trying to compare private and state sector provision in two countries with such a vastly different budget allocation to health is particularly valid. If you want Dutch healthcare, pay Dutch taxes.

    The oft quoted studies that rank countries like the Netherlands ahead of countries like the UK and Italy for comparitive heathcare come from a Swedish think tank that is run by a former private equity specialist who campaigns for the privatisation of health care in the EU. After a brief skim through their rankings it looks to me like they are suspiciously skewed against state provision by the measures they choose to assess and there seems little correction for the total spend allocation in the rankings.

    They did try to adjust for total spend in one exercise and found that Albania and Bulgaria came top. They then spent the rest of that particular presentation saying why the methodology wasn’t very good.

    Comparison to the Netherlands (and most other EU countries) with regard to the public/private balance is also interesting in that many of these countries have a completely different regulatory approach to the private sector anyway, so a direct comparison may not be valid.

    I don’t know about the Dutch healthcare system, but I do know that in the Netherlands, someone who has saved exactly the same amount for a pension as in the UK will get a pension 30% greater than their UK counterpart because the Dutch government has far stricter regulation of financial industry charges. I suspect the same general approach will be true in the health sector, meaning that Dutch private care may not be the same as UK private care.

    A more apposite comparison for the UK might be with the US, whose regulatory model is closer to ours. In this regard we win absolutely hands down. To reap any benefits that the Dutch might have, we might need to dramatically up our health spend and completely change our Anglo Saxon economic model.

    Most research whose quality I would trust tends to show the NHS as generally highly efficient and broadly favourable when compared to similar countries – but no one would ever claim it to be perfect.

  36. @BT Says – “NHS is getting less and less efficient/value-for-money as its budget expands more and more. ”

    Could you supply the data for this please?

  37. @BT Says -“Frankly, they had their chance under Blair and blew it, sweeping the elephant under the carpet as they went.”

    Interestingly, and just for balance, under New Labour the NHS had the best improvement in it’s history and by all reputable international comparisons showed the fastest improvements in health outcomes in the western world.

    In many areas, if this improvement were to be maintained for another 5 years or so the NHS would be one of the best European health services for a lot less total spend in many critical areas.

    The idea that the NHS is dying on it’s feet or has unaffordably rising costs when compared to it’s continental counterparts is a politically inspired myth I’m afraid.

    All western countries need to pay heed to changing health demands. Over the last decade or so the NHS has broadly speaking been an unmitigated success, but I would never assume the next ten years would be just as good, regardless of how it is run and how much we spend.

  38. @tingedfringe

    “I’d imagine that it has something to do with pleasing middle-class voters and the political ‘centre’.”

    Once again speaks the voice of perpetual opposition :D

    A (UK) election cannot be won without – amongst other similar criteria- (a) a platform that appeals to the middle class; (b) a platform that tacks towards the centre of the political compass.

    That is UK politics 101 it really is…

    I can’t work out whether you are too young to accurately understand what happened in the 80’s (i.e. below 35)- being around at the time is oh-so-different from reading Tony Benns diary of that time; or merely a Tory agent provocateur !!

  39. Remember when opticians and dentists were part of the NHS instead of the expensive rip-offs we deal with now?

  40. @BT says
    “Germany is not my role model”

    Given that more than half of your post was given to extolling the virtues of health care in Germany, and failed to mention any other country, I trust that you’ll forgive me for thinking that it was.

    “To try and reduce/simplify the discussion at this stage to how much of GDP is spent on the NHS is a bit desperate, don’t you think?”

    On the contrary, given that it was you that raised the issue of the NHS being (allegedly) unaffordable, and who then in the next sentence cited a country that feels it can afford to spend vastly more on health care than we do in the UK, I think the reference to comparative levels of expenditure is very appropriate. Equally, I could have cited the other countries also cited on this thread – France and the Netherlands – as countries whose national expenditure on health vastly exceeds that of the UK.

    If you want to extend the argument to efficiency, rather than just financial inputs, that’s fine. Just look at any international comparisons of health outcomes versus cost-based inputs. In such comparative international terms the NHS performs very well. And Alec has already pointed out, the trend in terms of improved health outcomes has also been one of rapid improvement, so we have seen a return in response to the extra investment under the last government.

  41. I think THAT is the real “elephant in the room”…people in the UK don’t pay enough income tax.

  42. @Lordtory – “Certainly, your choice of energy is a poor one in my case, Lady Tory has changed our provider about 4 times due to more competitive offers.”

    With a vastly and deliberately confusing array of 327 different tariffs that have been designed to maximise producer profit, you almost certainly haven’t got a particularly good deal, even now. The market ‘works’ only in so far you think Lady Tory has done well.

    You also miss the biggest point about the private management of the energy industry. We have a national grid that has seen 25 years of chronic under investment and is now straining to cope, with over voltage a regular occurance in many rural areas and significant power outtages in response to relatively mild weather events. Connection costs for renewable generation systems are also severely restricting the ability to increase green electricity generation, even affecting very small micro systems in many cases.

    Our generation capacity has failed to renew itself under private ownership and we now have our lowest safety margin since the 1940’s, which is set to get even lower as old plants are decommissioned.

    By around 2015 – 2018, depending on the economy, we’re highly likely to see cyclical power cuts as we won’t have the capacity to meet demand.

    Like the railways, the private energy industry came to the government and asked for nationalisation in the 1920’s precisely because they couldn’t provide the long term infrastructure investment while meeting the demands of the capital fincance markets.

    In both these industries I see no change in the intervening eight decades. There are some things that the free market can’t handle, which is by and large the reason we invented nations.

  43. @ BT

    “Over there, it’s outcomes and best value for taxpayers money that counts. The idea that the state must own all hospitals is seen as weird, redolent of an archaic worldview.”

    Absolutely. We really are hidebound by ideology about state provision ( as opposed to state funding)

    PHIL

    “But I trust that you do accept that once an artificial arms-length separation is put into effect between the public commissioning body and the private sector provider, then the risks associated with poor monitoring of contract standards multiply. ”

    I do. And our civil service demonstrates time after time how awful it is at writing contracts with the private sector, specifying the outcomes & quality required-and bloody making sure we get them. It is a weakness in UK

    I think THE GREENY is spot on with :-

    “If we want to increase private sector involvement in the public sector, we first have to train the pubic sector in how to manage it or there will always be companies willing to take advantage of poor governance”

    It is as well to understand Phil, that there are abuses & poor service, and inadequate quality in public sector providers too.

    This is a problem of poor management in the public sector-and it doesn’t go away just by switching to a p[rivate sector provider-as you say the risks can actually increase.

  44. Actually the nice thing about this private v public row for the NHS is that both sides are wrong. The real problem is the corporatisation of the NHS, both in its private and public spheres.

    As a number of people have already pointed out, private provision has always been part of the NHS, usually in the form of professional partnerships (GPs, opticians, dentists, pharmacists) or small businesses or charities (nursing homes etc). In the last 20 – 30 years we have seen many of these services being now provided by large businesses, partly as a result of deregulation, partly by the desire of the City to find new avenues of safe investment. GPs are the last holdout, but both the current and previous governments were keen to change that.

    The hope was always that the new players would ‘improve efficiency’. But any such gains were not only offset by such things as less local flexibility, but also by the short term, profit driven model that the new investors demanded and the cost of corporate overheads. (There are often other problems resulting too, such as the ownership of the Southern Cross property has shown up, which is a topic for another time).

    At the same time a more corporate model was also being imposed on the NHS itself, during its various reorganisations and often at the direction of management consultants. Because market mechanisms were felt to provide the most efficient way of working, various attempts were made to set these up artificially. To be polite, it seems difficult to prove if any savings resulting were greater than the cost of the extra administration required.

    Even where market mechanisms weren’t imposed, the structure of how the NHS operated became more corporate, not just in the silly little things (logos and mission statements) but in adopting much more contractual viewpoint. So relationships between various parts of the NHS and between those parts and their clients/stakeholders/users (according to decade) became more formal and less responsive.

    Again whether the additional ‘efficiency’ justified the extra spending and effort is a moot point. And even efficiency may have its unforeseen consequences – pushing bed occupancy up to near 100% increases infection transmission for example.

    I do think all those who spent the last few decades demanding that the NHS become more ‘businesslike’ should at least realise that they have got their wish.

  45. @Colin.

    I agree with all that.

  46. @Alec
    We, her Ladyship and myself, are quite happy with these domestic arrangements and costs. You mention the word profit and the maximising of it, as if it is a foul sexually transmitted disease. I have never minded concerns making a profit out of me and I made sure when at business, I made a profit out of them, that is what has made my world go around.

  47. Being an outsider on the NHS debate ( and reader of ) it seems to me that one side is putting some long well constructed arguments for their case in a very well thought out manner.
    The other side —- well they’re not.

  48. Just popped back for a quick look before running off again for the evening.

    Phil/Alec

    I suppose it was silly of us to think we might change each other’s perception of the ‘NHS issue’. You certainly didn’t change mine and I obviously didn’t do much for yours. Clearly there is a gulf in perception of your NHS and my one, and therefore whether fundamental reform is essential or not (this last comment mainly directed to Alec).

    Although I was encouraged to note there was no longer disagreement with the fact that Private Sector involvement is not a problem in itself.

    Agree with The Greeny and Colin that the Management of Private Sector contracts is key to their offering value-for-money, if not outcomes, and this needs addressing within the major reform we are about to see. Can’t blame the private companies for maximising profits out of every opportunity – it’s called business.

  49. Alex

    Can you (or anyone else) back your statements on the NHS costs and quality versus other EU countries with fact.

    How do costs compare to France and Germany, where many believe the service is prompter and better?

  50. @Lord Tory

    Profit making certainly isn’t a dirty word, when it’s in private enterprise. We should laud those like Apple who work out how to make the big profit margins… But, when it’s in the public realm, a company maximising their profit is doing so *directly* on the back of the tax payer.

    That’s the fundamental flaw in privatisation of government monopolies. Yes, introduction of a profit motive can introduce efficiency savings… But the profit motive also decrees that those efficiency savings be taken as profit when they can, and never passed onto the customer when they can get away with it. Even fully competitive bidding doesn’t reduce this, because all the companies that bid will want to make a good profit, and are strongly incentivised to always find a way.

    Look at the railways, look at First Group who negotiated a very good franchise agreement for themselves. They negotiated to have the bulk of their payments to the government come in the last three years of the franchise term. And of course they never intended to pay that money, and are quitting the franchise three years early. I would fully expect similar shenanigans to occur with Private owned NHS Hospital Franchises, and if you don’t then you’re hopelessly naive.

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