[Comment] Offline: How to hurt the NHS—a user’s guide
The remark became one of the most famous lines in the history of the National Health Service (NHS): “I do wish that the most suspicious of our GPs would stop feeling nervously for their wallets every time I mention the word ‘reform’”. The speaker was Ken Clarke, the UK’s “last ever smoking” Secretary of State for Health. The year was 1988. In his entertaining memoir, Kind of Blue, he calls his words nothing more than “a silly joke”. But the row it triggered shows the truth of his conclusion that, “Health care continues to be the most bitter and controversial policy area in Britain.” Writing in The Times Literary Supplement last month, Ray Tallis (Emeritus Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Manchester), argued that the health service was undergoing “liquidation”.