It’s not every day that the National Audit Office publishes a comedic masterpiece, but the bean counters of Whitehall should be congratulated for their recent report on managing NHS backlogs and waiting times (published November 17th 2022).
The sparse and laconic prose contains gems of humour that had me laughing out loud – and that’s not often said in reference to a document written by accountants.
One doesn’t have to be able to read between the lines to figure out what the national spending watchdog really thinks of the performance of our ‘wonderful NHS’ – sarcasm leaps off the page.
The Daily Sceptic staff have asked me to comment on the story behind the story – why, despite record levels of cash being shovelled into the Department of Health, despite record numbers of registered doctors, despite all the reports, plans and PR hoopla, the NHS is still not performing to the same levels as 2019.
I plan to do this in two parts. Today I will analyse several recently published papers on NHS matters. In a later piece I will consider factors preventing meaningful reform to the health service in the U.K.
Let’s have a look at the National Audit Office (NAO) report referred to above. I’m going to quote extensively from this document because it speaks for itself. Frankly, I couldn’t do better than the authors in exposing what is (or isn’t) going on.
On the first page, there is a list of figures showing that the NHS recovery plan calls for an activity target of 129% in 2024 relative to 2019. However, 26 out of the 42 primary care bodies have published their own projections showing they will fail to meet this target – and that’s likely to be best case scenario. I’d be amazed if any integrated care group gets anywhere near the central planning assumption, given that on the next page, the NAO states: