The Sunday Times

What the NHS needs most is a break from the surgeons of Westminster

In her Sunday Times column, Camilla Cavendish referenced Reform’s recent NHS polling.

She said: “This month a Populus poll for the think tank Reform found that 60% of people agree with the statement: ‘The NHS needs reform more than it needs extra money.’ Privately, a number of politicians of all stripes agree; when I interviewed the shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham, in Manchester last week, he acknowledged that the public want to see the NHS “put its house in order” before starting to pay more for it.

Publicly, there is intense pressure on politicians to demonstrate their love of the NHS by appearing to throw cash at it. The day after I interviewed Burnham, Ed Miliband announced £2.5 billion annual funding from new taxes. This sounded like more money, though without a further top-up this is slightly less than the coalition claims to have added to the service in the past year. Miliband pledged to fund 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, 5,000 extra care workers and 3,000 additional midwives. This is a set of numbers more reminiscent of the Soviet Gosplan than of a system under which individual services decide their own staff levels.”

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