Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sicko Health Check

You can't beat Wedgie for a bit of misty eyed romance

Michael Moore and all romantic lefties love the £90bn pa NHS. They wish everybody could have one.

Yet according to today's Telegraph:

"Britain has been branded "the sick man of Europe" after a Government report revealed a nation blighted by record levels of obesity, alcohol abuse, diabetes and smoking related deaths."

Fair comment- the DoH's Health profile of England 2007 puts us at the very top of the European obesity league, only a smidge behind Mikey and his Mexican cousin:

And as for drink, we're just about the only old EU country where alcohol consumption is rising.

Fags- second highest mortality rate. Teen pregnancies- the highest of any old EU country.

Man- we are sick, sick, SICK.

Yet all of these headline horrors are self-inflicted. Which, after sixty years of cradle to grave state healthcare and its associated high intensity nannying, is surely rather odd.

Isn't it?

Well, no, it isn't.

Britain is just about the only Western country that has nationalised, free at the point of use, tax funded healthcare. Which is probably why fat unhealthy Michael Moore likes it so much. When he finally explodes, he could get sewn back together free, all treatment paid for by the rest of us. He'd have absolutely no need to worry about the long-term consequences of stuffing his face.

Welfare dependency, y'see. Free healthcare does nothing for managing your waistline, nor indeed much else in life.

We can see that graphically illustrated in the DoH's English regional health stats (see table 1.1 here). On almost all measures, the problems are concentrated in the dependent regions of the North. They consistently score worse than the national averages for obesity, smoking, binge drinking, teenage pregnancy, and (un)healthy eating.

The report also underlines an important point about the results we've had from Labour's NHS money splurge.

They are forever telling us that although it's cost a packet, results are coming through in areas like cutting premature deaths from cancer and circulatory diseases. And indeed, such deaths are falling remarkably.

But they were already falling before the splurge, and the extra cash doesn't seem to have affected the trend. Moreover, other countrys that haven't splurged the extra dosh have nevertheless also experienced the falls.

Take for example, the DoH chart on premature mortality from all circulatory disease for males, aged under 65:

England has been on a steady downward trend for nearly 30 years, gradually converging on the EU-15 average, which has itself been falling. The message is that improvements have been driven more by medical technology - probably US-sourced - than by any special NHS achievement, still less the funding splurge.

None of which will convince misty eyed fans of Sicko.

But it should.

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