Thursday, 5 November 2015

Heath Care in the UK

Medical specialists in the UK make just over half what they do in America, and less than their counterparts in Australia, Canada, France and Germany, according to the seminal study on the subject by David M Cutler and Dan P Ly of Harvard University, published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives. The two academics conclude that “the one major country that appears to be paying its physicians too little is the United Kingdom”, a remarkable statement given the thoroughness of their research. One consequence of Britain’s excessively low medical wages, they argue, is that the UK is losing much of its homegrown talent and has had to import 28 per cent of its doctors from abroad to compensate.
Other research backs this up. The most up to date figures from the OECD show that specialist doctors in the Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark, Luxembourg, Israel, Finland and even Turkey earn more than their British counterparts, once adjusting for the purchasing power of their wages. As to junior doctors, Canadian starting salaries are between 14 per cent (in Quebec) and 49 per cent (in Alberta) higher than those in the UK when adjusted in the same way. It costs much less to live in (say) Texas that it does anywhere in the UK, so even in those cases when cash salaries don’t look that much higher abroad they often generate a much better quality of life.
So we need to pay our doctors more if we are to stop them leaving the UK - it seems madness that we "export" our homegrown talent and then make up the shortfall by "importing" talent form other poorer countries - where do they get their doctors from?

The major issue is of course where do we get the money from to pay our doctors the "going rate" in the global marketplace that we now live on? Putting the question the other way round how do we limit the demands on the NHS? Should we try to limit the demands? Modern treatments become ever more complex and this means more expensive. Doctors are now postponing death more and more so that we are living ever longer (so far no doctor saves lives as we all die eventually).
It is my belief that if we were to double spending on the NHS overnight within a few years there would be a funding shortfall as more and more of us would be living even longer.
We need to have a gown up debate on this - but with the current crop of politicians in all the parties there are better odds on my winning the lottery than of having a sensible discussion on the NHS. Accodring to the actuarial tables my expected lifespan is about 15 years so I won't really have too long to worry about the issue. But I would like to think that my grandson who is not year three can look forward to a better future.