Magazine article The Spectator

Marching Proudly on into a New Half-Century, Britian's Answer to the Russian Army

Magazine article The Spectator

Marching Proudly on into a New Half-Century, Britian's Answer to the Russian Army

Article excerpt

People are the National Health Service's greatest resource. So Frank Dobson, its minister, says, and he must feel resourceful, because the numbers on its payroll run into seven figures. For the title of Europe's biggest employer of labour, it must now have seen off its old rival, the Red Army. The NHS stands for the command economy, which was the latest model 50 years ago when it was founded, and could be admired in its most extensive form in Soviet Russia. It was independent India's misfortune to be founded at the same time and to be stuck with the same model. Today, relics of command economies can still be found in (for instance) North Korea and, of course, right here at home. A command economy measures itself by effort and by output. So the NHS prides itself on the Stakhanovite labours of its junior doctors and nurses, even if they are not at their most efficient when they have been on their feet all night. …

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