The NHS Is Not Free

Dr Vernon Coleman MB ChB DSc FRSA

It is widely assumed that because no money changes hands at the point of sale, the NHS is ‘free’.

This is, of course, a myth. The NHS is not free in any sense. It is extraordinarily expensive to run (far, far more expensive than an equivalent private health service would cost) and it is directly controlled by lobbyists and the politically motivated.

And the financial cost is soaring while the quality of care provided by the NHS is falling at an unprecedented rate. It is unarguably true that the people of Britain would receive better health care if the NHS were closed down and every citizen given free private health care. I mean that. If you look at the sums you’ll agree with me.

The cost of the NHS is rising because of the unbridled greed of doctors, nurses and drug companies, an absurd rise in the number of administrators required to design forms, hand them out, collect them and feed the results into computers and the continued incompetence of the people supposedly looking after the money.

It is absurd but true that the NHS now costs so much that it would be cheaper to give every individual in the country free private medical insurance.

The NHS costs nearly £2,000 a year for every man, woman and child. Has everyone in your family had £2,000 worth of care out of the NHS this year?

If everyone were given their £2,000 with which to buy private medical insurance, each individual would have enough money left over to have an excellent annual holiday as well.

And all the damned administrators, the leeches who have sucked the blood and the soul out of the NHS, would be released to find gainful employment. There must be something useful at least some of them could do.

Most of the extra money given to the NHS is spent on hiring more administrators, or giving pay rises to existing NHS staff. Patients don't benefit at all. Extra layers of administration mean that costs are constantly rocketing, while the quality of care steadily but remorselessly deteriorates. The NHS employs nearly 1.5 million people and more than 60% of those are bureaucrats. In addition to a Ministry, the health service is run by over 750 boards, committees, executive councils, local health authorities and quangos. Administration within the NHS is a sick joke. It's hardly surprising that doctors and nurses are demoralised and that patients are treated as a nuisance. Like other huge State industries, the NHS has forgotten that it exists to serve. The system now has a bureaucratic life of its own and it sometimes seems as though senior NHS staff spend most of their time searching for new ways to waste money. For example, the NHS employs an army of translators in order to assist the many EU immigrants who haven't bothered to learn our national language. Everything which the NHS publishes appears in 160 languages.

The cost of all this nonsense is one of the reasons the NHS provides such appalling health care and such very poor value for money.

For example, taken at random, I see that according to the latest available WHO figures, Singapore spends 3.4% of its GDP on health care (compared to 8.4% in the UK). And yet the infant mortality rate in Singapore is three per 1,000 whereas in the UK it is five per 1,000. And life expectancy at birth is higher in Singapore than in the UK. The UK always comes low down on lists of countries which provide decent health care. It's no wonder that many immigrants (including illegal ones) pop back home if they fall ill and need medical treatment.

It is perhaps hardly surprising that no other country in the world has ever bothered to try to copy the British health care system. The NHS is so damned big that it can't do anything efficiently.

Medical records take days to travel yards from one department to another and are regularly mislaid.

Some time after my father died, his missing hospital records were found in a wardrobe in a nursing home 20 miles away.

Senior doctors are silent about everything that goes on within the NHS because they have been bought. Hospital consultants who know the right people can receive an annual bonus which more or less doubles their standard NHS salary. A bonus of £100,000 is not unusual. These bonuses are awarded secretly and have nothing to do with patient satisfaction or reliable, honourable service to the NHS.

There is no doubt that one of the fundamental problems within the NHS is the cost of the workforce. Like almost all public sector workers, they are overpaid and underworked.

In Britain, the average full time public sector employee works just 30 hours a week and much of that time is wasted on chatting, drinking coffee and filling in pointless forms. Within the NHS the figure is even worse because the size of the organisation, and the extent of the bureaucracy, mean that even when employees are doing what they regard as work they often are not doing anything useful. Employees in the private sector have to work much harder because any private hospital which tried to operate in the way that NHS hospitals operate would soon go bankrupt.

NHS hospitals are so out of touch with the needs of patients, and run by such uncaring, greedy people, that they now charge patients and visitors to park their cars. And since patients have no choice but to pay, the charges are extortionate. It is not unusual to find an NHS hospital charging £3 an hour to park a car. That's £9 for three hours, £12 for four hours and £15 if you're really ill (or are kept waiting in outpatients) and need to be there for five hours. These are prices that would make airport car park operators blush.

And yet I have never seen a private hospital which charges patients or visitors to park their cars.

The result is that sick people in the outpatients department sit and worry that they will be fined or clamped when they are kept waiting for hours. A recent survey showed that one quarter of people are put off visiting a friend or relative in hospital because of car park charges. Don't the malicious, mean-spirited, blood-sucking bastards who run our hospitals realise that visitors help patients get better?

Hospitals in the NHS are all about money. And the doctors and nurses who say nothing and allow the bureaucrats to get away with this obscene thugging of the sick are as guilty as the administrators themselves.

The sad truth is that the NHS (like the rest of the State system) is designed to punish the prudent – especially the elderly prudent.

Sick, elderly people are forced to sell their homes and use the proceeds to pay for essential care – even though, according to the law, the NHS should be picking up the bill. The NHS spends huge amounts of money evading this legal responsibility.

The bottom line is that the NHS kills far more people than it saves. It has become a national liability. Let’s get rid of it before it kills any more people.

Taken from Doctors Kill More People Than Cancer by Vernon Coleman – now available as an ebook on Amazon.

Copyright Vernon Coleman

There are hundreds of free articles on and
For a biography please see or
And there are over 60 books by Vernon Coleman available as ebooks on Amazon.
I’m afraid, however, that you have to pay for those. (But not a lot.)