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Letter to the Editor - Governments should pay for health care but not provide it

Dear Sir

In ancient times, Editors would firmly cease fisticuffs in their august columns by declaiming: "This correspondence will now cease". Before you sir, rightly do just that, may I crave a riposte to Michael Carberry's article on 10th August - Good Health – but at what price? ( - criticising my comments on the UK's National Health Service and its comparable systems in the USA and Europe. The point I was making was that governments should pay for health care, through compulsory insurance preferably, or as we currently have in the UK, through general taxation, or even through specific taxes raised for that narrow purpose, but what they should not do is provide the health care themselves.

Governments in a free society do not produce food or clothing or books; thank goodness, as we would have little to eat or wear or read, and little choice for certain. In the same way central government should stand aside and let the private sector provide health care services, acting only to ensure fair practice and competition and that no citizen is excluded by lack of means for receiving good health and hospital care. This may seem utopian but nobody can doubt that the present system is broken. We need new and radical thinking to solve that issue and it is disappointing the way intelligent thinkers defend something which clearly does not work, instead of working towards solutions.

Incidentally, it is not true that the NHS has been starved of funds. The rate of spend has run over inflation, even allowing for Covid costs, for the last five years and was pretty much in line with inflation before it. Jobs have gone but perhaps not surprisingly, these, alas, have been in the patient-facing services, not in management and administration jobs. We need to reform our heath care system so it is leaner but entirely patient-focussed, just as non-monopoly private enterprise naturally does.

Yours faithfully

JR Stoker

[Emails or texts from readers to the editor can be found in Reader Opinions. But communication betwixt our writers is placed in Articles]


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