Why does the right hate the NHS?

 I think this is a valid question; over at Liberal Conspiracy I posted an edited version of my earlier post on here regarding Nurses for Reform.  A barrage of comments ensued arguing in favour of market-led reform. Meanwhile, Conservative Home carries a piece arguing that the ‘NHS must change’. It’s telling that leading these calls for change we often have prominent business figures; healthcare being a lucrative business and, of course, if the NHS was broken-up it would provide many a profit-making opportunity.

A clue to the answer to the question I posed is found in the first paragraph of the Conservative Home piece;

No wonder we Brits have so much affection for the NHS: whether you are rich or poor, if you have something wrong with you, you can get it checked out and get world-class treatment. Because we all share the payment for healthcare through taxes, we don’t have to worry about being able to afford it.

However, the author continues;

The problem is that if we are not careful, we might end up paying for that loyalty ten or twenty years down the line.

The praise heaped on the NHS initially is thus cast as blind, unthinking loyalty; the kind one might have to a treasured comfort blanket. The author is thus damming the NHS with faint and false praise. In other words it is the fundamental underpinning principle that is hated; the principle that the NHS will be there in times of need. It goes against everything the right hates about the left, as it is seen it rewards bad behaviour and indolence and apathy because that is what poor people are. Because we live in a ‘perfected’ meritocracy; if people haven’t made it or have less money than others then essentially that is their fault.

 Why then should a rich man who has worked hard for his wealth subsidise this is the implicit question. Of course, it would be largely untenable to say this explicitly so it gets sugar-coated and the interests of the rich are presented as societies best interests;

 We should see the rich taking private insurance as a socially useful saving of public resources.

Don’t mention the differential standard of care improving life chances or the fact that ‘innovations’ that take place will first be available to the rich because that would spoil the point. Authors like this also try to co-opt Nye Bevan to their cause however as was pointed out in reply;

Bevan did not see the NHS as a safety net he saw it as an ideal that healthcare should be free at the point of need.

This is something that the right in its unfettered market-worship hates and shows how unsafe the NHS is in its hands.


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About darrellgoodliffe


5 responses to “Why does the right hate the NHS?”

  1. mtpt says :

    Do you have to be psychic to discern the hidden meaning in that quote from ConHome? Apparently it shows hatred, but I’m struggling to see where. It seems to be a straightforward observation about why the British approve the NHS.

    I have to think if ConHome did put up something saying what you’re claiming you’d have quoted it, rather than imputing meanings.

    The bit about differential standards of care is frankly bizarre. Are you arguing that nobody should be allowed to spend money on private healthcare? That only NHS healthcare should be available? If not, what exactly is your point?

    Conversely, your complaint that innovations will first be available for the rich is either a further argument against banning private healthcare (or at least banning treatments until the NHS also offers them) or else an argument for unlimited unfettered public health spending.

    If the latter is the case, you display a worrying lack of realism about how the “rich” fund health care.

    Most people who use private medicine have health insurance. They are not rich by any stretch of the imagination, and buy insurance in order to be able to afford the costs. There are of course some who are genuinely wealthy, and can pay regardless of cover, but for those covered by insurance there are limits, and rationing, and bars on service – as the American public has recently been debating.

    Overall, a confused and confusing response to Azeem Ibrahim’s piece.


  2. darrellgoodliffe says :


    I think the quote makes it quite clear why the business-driven right hates the NHS; for exactly the same reasons it says the British love it.

    There is a compelling argument that the market has no place in healthcare I think. Its one of those fundemental necessities that simply should not be subjected to such rules and practices because its aim should never be profit; the making of profit has no place in such a field.

    If the effort and capital that is in the private sector was made avalible generally and pooled in such a way this wouldnt be a problem. Simpl y put, like with education and any provision of basic human neccessities I think the market has no place or role in the provision of these things.

    This forms part of my problem with insurance, as you say it places limits on peoples cover and there is also the risk/premium problem. It does not ‘give the consumer’ control it gives control to insurance companies.


  3. Joe Otten says :

    I think Darrell is correct about the right and the NHS, but I agree with mtpt that the article quoted doesn’t reveal this. All it seems to say is that we should be open other ways of doing things, which – if it weren’t code – could reasonably be said about pretty much anything.

    The fact is that NHS care was always limited, is limited in the present and will be limited in the future. The suggestion that this will be a new challenge we will have to face is a cheap attempt to seem to be thinking ahead.


  4. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Well I think we can disagree about the correct interpretation of the quote ad infinitum. To my mind given the context of the rest of the article it smacks of false praise, look, for example at this;

    “The problem is that if we are not careful, we might end up paying for that loyalty ten or twenty years down the line.”

    In other words the loyalty described is blind and the praise is therefore faint and false.

    I agree that there are limitations placed on the care the NHS can provide and I agree that it is a cheap attempt to cover an ideological agenda.


  5. darrellgoodliffe says :

    PS. Have adapted the text a little to clarify my point as it has been raised a couple of times.


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