The Telegraph reported yesterday that over 7,800 NHS Staff were paid more than £100,000 last year, with a third of these people paid more than the Prime Minister. Just to make clear, the NHS spent at least £802,252,251 on a tiny number of staff in the last year.
Personally, I find this absolutely horrifying and cements my belief that we are far too blinkered in the belief that simply increasing budgets will make things better. In 2010, David Cameron promised to increase government expenditure on the NHS and I felt that doing so was wrong – it simply appeases the Lefties who think that numbers are everything, that the more you spend, the better things will get. I had arguments with my mother about this increase, she argued that merely raising spending on the NHS wasn’t enough as the price of medicine increases above inflation and I do agree that that is a justified fear. But simply increasing the amount spent by the NHS year on year will not help this. It would not matter if you promised to increase spending tenfold, because money does not make people better.
Around a third of all NHS spending, which last year was around £130,000,000,000 (one hundred and thirty billion pounds), went to administrators and this is simply and patently unacceptable. Yet this is what we see all over the board, that money is simply haemorrhaged into bureaucracy – maintaining it, expanding it and simply inflating the salary of it. It’s just wrong. Public money, the money that we pay in taxes (and before any smart-Alec’s pop up to remind me that we students don’t really pay tax I’d like to cast their eyes to VAT) is going to maintaining jobs that do not need to be kept. These administrators do not heal people, they do not help people, they simply create red tape.
The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the ever expanding bureaucracy. My friends, when we increase the amount spent on the NHS in real terms we do not necessarily build more beds. We do not create more nurses. We don’t improve the salary of our nurses. We plump up the pillows of executives, pen pushers and middle men. And the worst thing about this is this, that these people will oversee the closure of A&E’s, they watch as hospital beds are filled and they say that we cannot afford better cancer treatments, all whilst taking more money for themselves. The more money that we give to these NHS bureaucrats, the less we give to nurses and the less help we give to patients.
To bring this point home, Southampton Trust has the largest number of staff paid over £100,000 in the United Kingdom and yet its staffing levels were last year deemed ‘placing patents at risk’ by the Quality Care Commission. Protecting budgets doesn’t help, it’s about were the money goes not how much of it there is.
But it is not only in the NHS whereby this belief that simply increasing pay will improve standards but throughout the public sector. For thirteen years, the Labour government increased spending in education, throwing billions of pounds at in in the hope that this would improve our schools. ‘Education, education, education’ Tony Blair famously said, and yet throughout his Premiership and then Brown’s, we plummeted through global rankings on literacy, numeracy and science. Money can’t make children smarter, better teachers do. It is for this reason that over the 13 years of Labour Government that Private Schools climbed to the top of British league tables, because they understood that though money is necessary to pay teachers and maintain state of the art equipment, it is not an end in itself. It is the teachers who educate children, money does not. So the money went to Thinktanks and Quangos. It went to interactive white boards. It didn’t go to ensuring that the most suited people were becoming teachers, and making sure that teachers were paid enough to incentivise those best people to teach, and teach in the schools which require good teaching to most.
We need to remember that money is simply a means; it is not an end in its own right. It is okay to cut spending in the NHS, provided that we cut the inflated bureaucracy. It is okay to cut spending to the police force, provided that it is pen pushers who are cut, not police officers on foot patrols. It is okay to cut spending in education, we must simply ensure that the Quango’s go. It is about the quality of the service we receive, and that bears no natural correspondence to the amount we spend. Blindly increasing budgets is bad. We must make cuts, it is the bloated bureaucracy who have to go.