IEA healthcare expert and author of Universal Healthcare without the NHS and Viral Myths: Why we risk learning the wrong lessons from the pandemic is available to comment on NHS performance and the case for reform, following the release of NHS England data showing there were 4.7 million people waiting for operations in England in February.
Dr Kristian Niemietz, Head of Political Economy at the free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:
“The number of Covid-related hospitalisations has fallen by over 90% since its January peak, but the NHS is proving slow in clearing up the backlog in demand that has been building up over the course of the pandemic. The number of people who have been on a hospital waiting list for more than a year has gone up to over a third of a million, and it shows no signs of falling yet.
“This adds to the impression that, all things considered, the NHS has not covered itself in glory during the pandemic. Despite the huge success of the vaccine rollout, in cumulative terms, we still have one of the highest levels of Covid deaths and excess deaths in the developed world. This remains the case even if you only compare the UK to countries where Covid infection rates have been similar to ours, or higher. The Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Israel and others have been about as badly hit as Britain, or worse. But their death rates are still well below ours.
“Once we are done with the cultish NHS adulation, we should start to think seriously about system-level reform. In order to do this, we need to adopt a less insular perspective, and take a look at what other healthcare systems are doing differently – especially those that have consistently better healthcare outcomes.”
Notes to Editors
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IEA spokespeople are available for further comment.