The Times: Let hospitals go bust, says watchdog
The NHS must learn from the airlines, telecoms and energy markets in using competition to improve services, the head of the Office of Fair Trading said yesterday. Hospitals should be allowed to go bust and ministers must stop bailing them out or risk discouraging innovative organisations from offering alternatives, Clive Maxwell said. Mr Maxwell used a speech in London to say that market forces could encourage NHS bodies to “raise their game” and produce better services. If GPs who are now in charge of buying services prove unwilling to open up to charities and private companies, the OFT would be [..]
Let hospitals go bust, says watchdog, The Times, May 24th.
We have seen “save the NHS” protests, but what exactly are we trying to save ? NHS treatments are not “free” and are so bizarre in their nature that they actually create expensive costs for the user and society due to the free reign given to pharma products developed in an anticompetitive atmosphere – a monopoly – that forces inefficient and dangerous treatments on to customers trapped in a closed market.
While some detractors decry the loss of their “free” NHS they, hypocritically, seek value for money in other markets, ignoring the extra costs that “free” NHS treatments create for them. Airline ticket prices, energy prices and telecom prices (phone and internet) are low due to real free market practices. This is why we can fly to Alicante for ~£60 or go on the internet for a few pounds a month.
“The price of an economy class ticket provided by traditional carriers fell by over 66 percent between 1992 and 2002.”
Some people don’t want “privatisation” in the NHS, but the NHS was already privatised by selling it out to the pharma companies due to the nature of the state created monopoly. Some people moan about the cost of living and seek value for money in other sectors of the economy but seem unwilling to make the link between a state monopoly NHS and the pharma companies. A relationship that created an enormous sink for their taxes. This is a relationship which forces them to pay for chemical company products unexposed to real free market practices. Whereas products in the airline, energy and telecom markets are not subject to this kind of relationship, which is why we can surf the net for a few pounds or fly to Alicante for an affordable price. Moreso, these operators don’t force unusual factors like “side effects” on the customer; an unpleasant experience on an airline journey for example. Because they risk losing the customer to other operators. However, the pharma companies have no incentive to remove unpleasant experiences because they can operate in and are protected by the NHS state monopoly. There are no other operators for customers who have had unpleasant experiences to go to. To make this even worse competing health products have been stigmatised by false and unfair advertising courtesy of the NHS state monopoly standing up for the pharma company interests.
“But we will also consider full enforcement action against public bodies where we have evidence of abuse of market power or anti-competitive agreements – or indeed breaches of consumer protection law where the OFT is best placed to act.”
“Decisions in the health sector to allow trusts to go into administration, whilst safeguarding services to patients, should be seen in this context.”
The pharma companies have “red ink” clauses in their contracts that go something like this … “this contract is void if competing products [holistic and natural therapies] are used“. This is a known practice in the pharma industry since ~1905 …
“So emphatically did this device recommend itself to the assemblage that many of the large firms took up the plan and now the “red clause” is a familiar device in the trade.”
The Magic “Red Clause”, The Great American Fraud, Samuel Hopkins Adams, Collier’s for October 7 1905.
The NHS socialist experiment has failed. It created a breeding ground for a massive monopoly by the pharma companies. This monopoly allowed unquestioned abusive practices to come in which created a protected, festering and closed off atmosphere that allowed unsavoury characters to exploit and abuse the vulnerable and unlucky. It was a pharma company monopoly via a state monopoly. Conversion to a true free market (a’la airlines, telecom and energy) allows access of better products that consumers are free to choose like holistic natural health and “alternative” practitioners. NHS/health already competes with holistic natural health and “alternative” practitioners but in an unfree market. People lucky enough to escape the NHS monopoly seek value for money by spending on therapies that work, without “side-effects”. These “side effects” cause NHS customers to spend more money (courtesy of the NHS) due to loss of work, loss of quality of life, and further costs of being forced to use pharma monopoly health products developed in a market lacking in free and open competition – a closed market.
Capitalism in and of itself is not inherently bad. An honest appreciation of real free market practices by both left and right – and a more realistic and honest appraisal of what the NHS has really been – can improve quality of life for us all, as has already been proved in airline, energy and telecom markets. The Office of Fair Trading needs to stand by its word and use its powers to end the state monopoly of the NHS and its exploitation by the pharma companies. This will improve quality of life for everyone.