Health Minister Anne Milton follows a similar logic, because she's announced that the Health Service will be encouraged to make profits by setting up businesses abroad, to take advantage of the NHS brand's "worldwide reputation".
- Mark Steel, The Independent, 22nd August 2012
Mark Steel wrote a very interesting piece in The Independent this week about exporting the NHS brand to the rest of the world. To take this suggestion a step further, maybe it actually is worth exporting the NHS, or better yet, simply abandoning it altogether.
"The discoveries of healing science must be the inheritance of all. That is clear. Disease must be attacked, whether it occurs in the poorest or the richest man or woman simply on the ground that it is the enemy; and it must be attacked just in the same way as the fire brigade will give its full assistance to the humblest cottage as readily as to the most important mansion.
Our policy is to create a national health service in order to ensure that everybody in the country, irrespective of means, age, sex, or occupation, shall have equal opportunities to benefit from the best and most up-to-date medical and allied services available."
- Winston Churchil, to the Royal College of Physicians in London in March 1944.
Churchill who was a Tory of all things, still saw the benefit and utility of having a population which being maintained by a national health service, would and should go onto be more productive. I suppose that in an era where production itself has been exported, the need to maintain the quality of the British labour force isn't there any more.
The date of this speech gives you two insights into both why the NHS was created and why Churchill had he been a politician today, would never have been PM and possibly not even a Tory.
Churchill even when he formed his National Government was already a senior politician, he was 66. He came from an exceedingly wealthy family and as such grew into the mould of the classic "statitst" Tory. Since the word conservative means to conserve or protect the status quo, Churchill fits perfectly into the role of maintaining British dominance in business and British power.
He had a distinct problem. Britain had been at war for 5 bitter years. The British people had fought long and hard and unfortunately for a Tory, Churchill felt a great deal of gratitude towards them; something which today would have been a distinct disadvantage in the modern Conservative party.
The NHS in context forms two great pillars of purpose. The first given the context of war was to provide fit, healthy people who would valiantly be blown to pieces, and secondly to provide fit and proper workers to work in factories.
That second point is quite interesting. The NHS in that role is about improving and maintaining the quality of the labour force. Labour being a factor of production is one of the inputs of generating income, wealth and future capital.
The need for labour in the 21st Century is as strong as it ever was. Labour still generates income, wealth and capital. The biggest difference between now and Churchill's day is that that labour no longer needs to be in Britain. Thanks to the global economy which has been developed over the past 60 years, it's just as easy to build Widgets and Gadgets in Bangalore or Ouagadougou as it is in Sheffield.
If the economic reasons for maintaining labour no longer exists in Britain, then the NHS is a drain on the economy.
British businesses under the governments from Wilson through until Callaghan might very well have been inefficient but it took Thatcher to finally kick the rest of the economic machine to pieces. The only part of the economic machine of Britain that still works efficiently is "The City" and they don't want to pay for any government services if they don't have to, let alone a service which improves and maintain a labour force which no longer produces goods and services.
Basically if you don't need to maintain the labour force, then why spend the money to do so?
Maybe the NHS should be exported. I mean if the government is going to abandon the British people as it seems so intent on doing, then also abandoning the services which maintain their well being must surely be the next step.
At very least export the brand. You may at least pick up some value for it before it's well and truly trashed at home.