The relationship between expenditure on health and fundamental measures of benefit is pretty weak in developed countries.

Health Expenditure v Lifespan OECD countries 2010

The figures for some countries may be misleading, as these graphs do not include private individuals expenditure, which in some places is quite considerable.  Infant mortality and health expenditure OECD 2010

The relationship between expenditure and benefit is even weaker for infant mortality.

Expenditure on health in the USA is an order of magnitude greater than any other country,  but life expectancy is very poor.

There is also a wider debate to be had about the relationship between health and economic growth and progress.

If my doctor gives me good advice and I stay healthy the NHS has not contributed anything to GDP.  If I become a chronic invalid the NHS expenditure is counted as part of the GDP and therefore a good thing.  The idea that healthcare is a business and should therefore be developed has some profound contradictions.

Health is the outcome, not an output.

Thanks to Lucy Reynolds for the very useful graphs.



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  1. Mervyn says:

    Our society is is being driven backwards by politicians obsessed by pleasing the private financial sector and the common neo-Liberal agenda.

    Over the last forty years or so corporate demands to reduce taxation has been used as a tool to reduce public provision, that inevitably has impacted on our ability to finance the meet the demands of the 21st century.

    Our NHS has performed remarkably well until the advent of marketisation first introduced under Labour then the pursuit of utter fragmentation by the current Coalition. Before this Coalition came to power, McKinsey produced a similar kind of report related to effective health care provision against cost. The NHS was placed 17th in the table amongst the top industrial nations of the world in respect of cost. Holland was the only other industrialised nation cheaper than Britain.

    The United States of America was at the very top of the table as the most expensive system in the world and more than double the cost of the NHS per head of population. Which of course is compounded by the fact that it does not provide a universal system of care and fails to provide care for 40% of the population.

    The evidence speaks for itself, but if anyone thinks that other European countries have something to show our NHS, then Germany was fourth from the top on this table and does not provide the comprehensive care our NHS provides.

    Clearly from the real evidence, provided by McKinsey the advisers to this governments privatisation programme, shows that the NHS is unparallelled in its ability to provide the worlds best health care system, and why we should go to the worst possible solution and get the worst possible outcomes, is down to political corruption and false dogma.

    We should be creating jobs and research facilities that enhance care for people in this country that would show the rest of the world what is possible, rather than extracting the wealth of the nation to fund corrupt corporate greed.

    We should also nationalise the Pharmaceutical Industry who have a license to print money by holding our NHS to ransom and is one of the major costs that is crippling it.

    Get Private companies out of our public services.

  2. Val Hudson says:

    Nationalise the Pharmacetical Industry? WOW there’s a thought!

    1. Mervyn says:

      I have worked in the Chemical industry and understand just how cheaply these drugs are made, the profits are huge, just think how we could not only save money for our health service but make profits to subsidise it further.

      It’s all just common sense really.

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