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Who’s best to run the NHS? Andy Burnham, the football-crazy Health Secretary? Or Andrew Lansley, his deathly dull Tory counterpart?

My answer: neither of them. The NHS should be run by the patients. But that requires a battle that no party is prepared to fight.

In fact, the only battle now is over which party has the WORST plans for our health service. And right now, the Tories are edging it.

Here’s the problem. The NHS is the largest government organisation on the planet with 1.3 million staff and a gargantuan budget.

It’s also the only health service in the developed world where the patient is NOT the consumer and does NOT call the shots.

Does this matter? You bet. It means power lies entirely with the bureaucrats, who gorge themselves on the cash and protect their empires.

Consider this appalling statistic. In private hospitals, the nurse-to-manager ratio is to five-to-one. As it should be.

In the NHS, it’s now one-to-one. Why? Are NHS nurses so stupid that they need five times as many managers to boss them about?

Of course not. It’s just that the bureaucrats have staged a coup d’etat over the NHS – and no one dares stand up to them.

In fact, Lansley says a Tory government would go further and grant the bureaucrats operational independence. It's borderline lunatic.

How does he think he’ll improve a system, if he lazily hands the keys over to the very people causing the problem?

[Answer: he doesn’t. He just wants a quiet life. He’ll pay any price, as long as Labour can’t accuse him of being horrid to nurses.]

It’s not like there’s not a problem. At the last count, thousands of NHS patients die each year from diseases caught IN hospitals.

[Britain’s survival rates for cancer rank amongst the worst in the European Union – and way below the United States.]

There are half a million people on the waiting list. In France, Germany and Switzerland, waiting lists DON’T EXIST.

So how do the continentals manage clean hospitals, without waiting? It’s not the cash. It’s the way they’re run.

Look at British vets. They charge – but when have you ever heard of a budgie waiting six months for an operation?

If a vet doesn’t deliver, little Tweetie’s owner takes him to another vet who will. Simple power of the consumer.

This is what NHS patients need. And hundreds of NHS doctors think so too: they are in it to serve patients, not ministers.

Don’t take it from me. A while ago, I heard a talk by Dr Maurice Slevin - a cancer specialist who spent 30 years in the NHS.

[When he joined, he said, the NHS was an exciting place to work. But now, it is in the grip of mad rules and regulations.

“Everywhere I go, nurses and doctors are demoralised and depressed," he said. And speaking as an insider.

 “No one in management in the NHS is concerned about patient care. Just about meeting their targets.” THIS is the problem.

You won’t hear these points made by ANY political party. Because none of them will take on the men in suits - or their unions.

[David Cameron thinks he has enough battles to fight, without trying to reform a government department which is literally the size of a small country.]

[Behaviourally, the NHS is like the old Soviet Union. Lots of five-year plans and government edicts. And it hates nothing more than reform.

If you try to take on its vested interests, you’ll end up sleeping with the fishes. Ask Gorbachev or Alan Milburn.]

Health Secretary Andy Burnham has been busy DESTROYING the bold, radical reforms that Tony Blair rightly made.

Blair invited the likes of Bupa in. If they can do a hip operation cheaper than the NHS, he said, they’ll get the contract.

Now Burnham says “the NHS is our preferred provider.” Why? Shouldn’t it be about quality? Does it matter who runs the clinics?

And why the hell is a government minister saying who they “prefer?” Shouldn’t this choice – and power – rest with the patient?

[Not under Gordon Brown. He is jealously reversing Blair’s reforms – a  destructive agenda which is harrying Labour to the grave.]

Britain has a health service with DNA of the 1940s, the management of the 1970s and waste of the 1990s.

Blair and Milburn had it right: empower the patient. Now, every party has it wrong. Hopelessly, heartbreakingly wrong.

So: what is your choice over the NHS at the next election?

Under Labour: bureaucrats with too much power. Under the Tories: bureaucrats with complete power.

So what about an NHS that is devoted and dedicated to those it was set up to serve? [Where patients are the tsars?]

We'll have it - one day. But only when we find a political leader with the guts and determination to deliver. 



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