The web is awash with commentary on Daniel Hannan’s incendiary comments on the NHS, thanks to the Twitter army. Even Lord Darzi was summoned from his holiday last night to pay tribute to our national treasure on the news.
And the backlash has started already, with right wing blogger Iain Dale denouncing as “puerile politics” the determination of politicians and celebs to express their disgust through every social media pore.
Dale argues that “to ignore the points he makes and pretend all is well is to brush it all under the carpet…exactly what the Labour Party wishes the media would do.”
So let’s look at a few facts.
Hannan’s biggest beef is with you. The legions of “bureaucrats” he says, using his disarmingly ability to talk for hours without blinking, are plaguing the NHS with expensive box-ticking.
There are 1.4m employees he says, and, apparently “most of those 1.4m are administrators! Managers outnumber the doctors and nurses!”
Shocking! But entirely incorrect.
There were 1.1m full-time equivalent staff employed in the NHS in 2008, according to the Information Centre for health and social care. This comprised:
- 125,629 doctors
- 329,372 nurses
- 122,059 qualified scientific, therapeutic & technical staff
- 284,367 support to clinical staff
- 187,177 NHS infrastructure support. Of these, 37,937 were managers.
In the interests of balance, we’ll consider how these staff groups have grown in the past decade.
Admittedly, managers have seen one of the biggest rises, up by 5.7 per cent, while numbers of nurses have only gone up by 2.5 per cent and doctors by 3.8 per cent (although there are 11.5 per cent more registrars, while the category of “other GPs” has jumped by 25.9 per cent to 5,285)
But there are still 417,064 MORE doctors and nurses than managers.
It’s only one of his many points, and I haven’t even touched on the more notorious statements made by him and his fans on “death panels” and waiting times (for some reason Fox News decided to use waiting time figures from 2004 during his recent appearance).
And it’s not as if the NHS is perfect. Perhaps, as one Tweeter put it, it’s like your home town. You can criticise it, but no-one else is allowed to. But anyone who dares to risk the ire of the British public - and NHS managers - should at least get their facts straight.