Andy Burnham has written a ridiculous article called ‘Defending the N in NHS’ for the Guardian. Personally I think we should defend the ‘H’ and the ‘S’ in NHS; screw the ‘N’.
In today’s Spectator Coffeehouse David Blackburn writes a well-considered attack on Andy Burnham’s Guardian article. I would go far further than Mr Blackburn. I think that the piece shows Andy Burnham is deluded or dishonest at best, seriously detached from reality at worst. He writes,
“…the Tories would scrap Labour's three flagship waiting targets: 18 weeks, four-hour A&E and the two-week cancer target. Removal of these … would inevitably see a loss of public accountability and a return to postcode variation”
Forget that waiting four hours in A&E is not really acceptable, and read the letters page in today’s Telegraph. From Mr William Standish of Ormskirk,
“… referred by my GP to be investigated for possible prostate cancer … the earliest date available being five weeks later. I then went on holiday to France.
When we arrived home there were three letters. The first cancelled my June appointment. The second gave a July appointment. The third cancelled the July appointment. Three weeks later, I received a fourth letter saying I had to apply all over again to get an appointment”
So I suspect that Mr Standish, for one, is unlikely to be concerned about the removal of the two-week target. It does not appear to have done him any good. Public accountability seems to be conspicuous by its absence, and unless patients in all areas have to wait over two months for an appointment (rather defeating the object of a two-week target) the postcode variation never quite went away.
Of course a single case does not show a universal standard, but it does show that nothing else can be a universal standard. The only point to Mr Burnham’s great concentration on the ‘N’, apart from socialist dogma, is to get consistent standards for everyone. So this one case does show that Mr Burnham is deluded or dishonest.
Iain Dale pointed out on Friday that Andy Burnham was claiming the NHS had no waiting lists. Mr Dale also pointed out that this delusion was a bigger story than anything Daniel Hannan could say. Unfortunately the press never quite got the hang of treating Labour as the government, or holding them to even the same standards as the Conservatives.