The NHS is on the brink of collapse and cannot be saved unless Gordon Brown intervenes when he becomes prime minister to give doctors the authority to organise a recovery, the leader of Britain's 33,000 hospital consultants will claim today.
Oh dear. I've been trumpeting the merits of both socialized medicine and "socialized medicine" for some time now. The UK health care system on the brink of collapse?! Say it ain't so! They drag out the suspense with the following paragraph [I'd like to point out that bit about best piece of social capital].
Jonathan Fielden, chairman of the British Medical Association's consultants committee, will tell Mr Brown: "Political meddling has brought the NHS to its knees. Unshackle the profession, give us back the health service, and we will rebuild it. Fail to do so and you will rightly be condemned for destroying the best piece of social capital the country has ever had."
If you've seen some of the reports and tables and graphs I've linked to here in this blog, you may have noticed that the UK doesn't spend a whole lot of money per person on health care. One could easily be misled into thinking it's because they don't have a whole lot of money to spend on health care. Not so, apparently:
Dr Fielden will make his plea as Patricia Hewitt, the health secretary, announces the NHS's financial results for the year to March. She is expected to confirm a report in the Guardian last week that it made a surplus of about £500m.
Finally! Down at the very end of the article, comes this quote:
"The excessive use of private firms to provide NHS services has been costly, disruptive and has fragmented care. The independent sector should only be used where the NHS needs it, not thrust into its midst like a carelessly placed hand grenade.
"We will not stand by and see the Trojan horse of the independent sector rolled in to take over the health service from within."