NHS 'does not deserve adulation' over pandemic role claims think tank

NHS 'does not deserve adulation' over pandemic role claims think tank

02/09/2021

NHS has been ‘nothing special’ during the pandemic says free-market think tank which claims it does not deserve ‘adulation’ as it has not helped Britain cope any better with coronavirus than other countries

  • IEA said there was no ‘rational basis’ for ‘adulation’ NHS’ received during crisis 
  • Said nations that coped best with Covid often had no public health services
  • Also attacked right-wingers for saying UK should be more self-sufficient 

The NHS’s performance during the coronavirus pandemic has been ‘nothing special’ and many countries without similar public healthcare have performed better, a think tank claimed today.

The Institute for Economic Affairs said ‘there is no rational basis for the adulation the NHS is currently receiving’ as it attacked ‘confirmation bias’ on both sides of the political spectrum.

In a new report it accused politicians across the board of trying to fit the pandemic into their pre-existing world-view.

This included leftwingers who used the deadly pandemic to criticise low public spending but also those on the right who have demanded that the UK become much more self-sufficient.

The paper, written by the IEA’s Dr Kristian Niemietz, pointed out that nations with the fewest Covid deaths and least economic and social disruption, like Taiwan and South Korea, had low public spending in the lead-up to the outbreak of the virus in China and no public health services.

‘What is safe to say is that there is no rational basis for the adulation the NHS is currently receiving, and no reason to be ”grateful” for the fact that we have it,’ he wrote, criticising Boris Johnson among others for praising the health service.

The paper, written by the IEA’s Dr Kristian Niemietz (pictured), pointed out that nations with the fewest Covid deaths and least economic and social disruption, like Taiwan and South Korea, had low public spending in the lead-up to the outbreak of the virus in China and no public health services.

The Institute for Economic Affairs said ‘there is no rational basis for the adulation the NHS is currently receiving’ as it attacked ‘confirmation bias’ on both sides of the political spectrum.

Dr Niemietz also attacked the ‘clap for the NHS’ during the first lockdown, saying it was part of a ‘false Covid-19 narrative’ of ‘how lucky we are to have the National Health Service, and how grateful we have to be for that’

‘It should go without saying that if the UK did not have the NHS, it would not have no healthcare system. It would have a different healthcare system. 

‘Maybe it would have a public health insurance system similar to the Taiwanese or the Australian one, or maybe it would have a social health insurance system similar to the Swiss or the German one. 

‘There is no guarantee that this would have served the UK better during the pandemic, but there is certainly no reason to believe that it would have done any worse. 

‘There is nothing special about the NHS, neither during this pandemic, nor at any other time.’

German Dr Niemietz also attacked the ‘clap for the NHS’ during the first lockdown, saying it was part of a ‘false Covid-19 narrative’ of ‘how lucky we are to have the National Health Service, and how grateful we have to be for that.’

As well as attacking critics of austerity, the IEA also took aim at ‘Covid-inspired protectionism’ on the right of politics.

The paper criticised former Brexit Party MEP and ex-chairman of Southampton Football Club Rupert Lowe for saying: ‘Only a fool could argue producing more food in our country is a bad idea.’

And it also criticised Theresa May’s former adviser Nick Timothy for saying something similar, that the pandemic may see the UK ‘rue the lack of a national […] capability to produce what we need’.

The author added: ‘The claim of this paper is not that best performers did well because they have low public spending levels, that they did well because they have open economies, or that they did well because they have non-NHS-type healthcare systems. 

‘The claim of this paper is that an effective pandemic response is compatible with a variety of public spending levels, a variety of trade regimes, and a variety of healthcare systems….

‘Our longstanding ideological disputes about what the size of the state should be, how open our economy should be, or what type of health reform we need (if any) are not going to be settle by a virus.’

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