COVID failures not caused by NHS ‘underfunding’


In the Media

Edwin van de Haar writes for The Critic

Energy and Environment

Andy Mayer writes for The Express

Christopher Snowdon writes for The Telegraph

IEA Head of Lifestyle Economics Christopher Snowdon has written for The Daily Telegraph criticising claims that underfunding of the NHS is responsible for failures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Christopher wrote:

“…the health service was exempt from so-called austerity – Department of Health spending rose by 20 per cent between 2009/10 and 2019/20 in real terms – and the changes to the public health system under David Cameron were broadly welcomed by the public health establishment.   

“In April 2013, Public Health England was created as a replacement for the UK Health Security Agency. It was supposed to be a one-stop shop dealing with everything from infectious diseases to food reformulation. Most of its £3 billion budget was redistributed as a ring-fenced grant to local authorities, each of which was given a Director of Public Health on a six-figure salary. The theory was that local authorities were best placed to know what their region’s public health priorities were, and to spend the cash accordingly. As it turned out, the Directors of Public Health often knew little or nothing about infectious diseases and decided the money was best spent on ineffective anti-obesity projects, hassling smokers, objecting to new alcohol licences and trying to stop fast food shops opening. A pandemic wasn’t on their radar and it’s doubtful whether they could have done much to prepare for it at a local level anyway. 

“‘Underfunding’ has been the NHS’s catch-all excuse for 70 years, but it is looking increasingly threadbare now that Britain spends 12 per cent of GDP on healthcare. Partly as a result of the pandemic, the public are gradually waking up to the uncomfortable reality that the people who run the healthcare service have plenty of money but they spend it on the wrong things because they don’t know what they’re doing.”

Read Christopher’s full piece here.