Britain spends less as a proportion of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) than most other developed countries, and that proportion has decreased rather than increased in recent years, despite the increased burden on the NHS resulting from our aging population. My brother, who lives in Spain, tells me that the Spanish Health Service is enormously better than ours, without the delays and restrictions that we suffer. Yet Britain is a much wealthier country than Spain, so what is wrong? One answer is that considerable sums are spent on things other than medical, for example the Private Finance Initiative so beloved of the Blair/Brown government and advertising and marketing for the internal market.
Together, those two items consume a substantial and growing proportion of the total NHS spend. Without them, I suspect that many of the problems of the NHS would disappear.
However, at the moment, we seem to be sleep-walking into something akin to the American system, and, believe me, you will not like that if it comes about. The USA spends almost twice as much on health care as we do, as a proportion of GDP, and yet a substantial percentage of its population suffer worse health care than in many third world countries.
On to something much happier. Regular readers will know that I am a great fan of Thomas Carr and his Olive Room restaurant.
I had a very pleasant meal the other day at Sawmills Inn. The brisket of beef was delicious and worth the journey all by itself, although I have to say the chips were very average. They also had two excellent New World pinot noir wines, so I was very happy.