Politicians love to give us statistics. They love to tell us that the reason that things are so bad is because of the poor performance of their predecessors. apparently the financial deficit is this bad because the previous government spent too much money (this might be true, but doesn’t take account of the banking collapse and subsequent global recession) and apparently the NHS is in the mess it is because faceless bureaucrats waste money and generally don’t make clinicians perform better.
From my point of view though when governments try to justify policy on a complete and deliberate misinterpretation of statistical fact they have gone too far. According to Andrew Lansley and his colleagues one of the key reasons for needing to dismantle the NHS is because of the UK’s poor health outcomes. They say that despite the massive investment in healthcare we are less likely to survive a heart attack or cancer than other European countries. This article in the BMJ suggests that is plain wrong. It also suggests that the government are misrepresenting what the statistics are actually telling us.