Doctor slams think-tank report claiming NHS 'did nothing special' in pandemic

A doctor representing a healthcare charity has attacked a think-tank’s report claiming the NHS has done ‘nothing special’ in the pandemic.

Dr Chris George described the Institute of Economic Affairs’ (IEA) assessment as ‘a kick in the teeth to thousands of frontline NHS workers’.

The conservative think-tank’s report professes to debunk ‘myths’ including that ‘the NHS is the star performer of the pandemic’.

Dr Kristian Niemietz, the author, also doubts the view that the health service ‘has done the most amazing job under the most difficult of circumstances’.

Dr Niemietz, the IEA’s head of political economy, wrote: ‘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.

‘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.’

Dr George, acting as a spokesperson for the Healthcare Workers’ Foundation, countered that NHS workers have toiled around the clock and lost their lives responding to the worst public health crisis in a generation.

He said: ‘This is a kick in the teeth to thousands of frontline NHS workers across the nation, who have been working day and night to support those hardest hit by the pandemic.

‘Many of my colleagues have put themselves at risk for almost a year and some have sadly lost their lives along the way.

‘I wholeheartedly believe the NHS should be protected at all costs, despite the views a minority have about our healthcare system.’

The GP spoke as the charity, which supports healthcare workers and their families, launched a Valentine’s appeal for the public to express love for frontline staff through donations for vital services such as PPE, professional counselling and childcare grants.

The Foundation cited the ‘huge pressure’ that frontline workers are under and the risks they continue to take as it urged people to support their mental health and wellbeing.

The appeal was launched on Tuesday amid a backlash to the report, which considers overseas health care systems before concluding: ‘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.’

The report also claims that the NHS was only a ‘star performer’ in the way that ‘proud parents’ would watch a child in school.

Dr Niemietz likened Clap for our Carers to the ‘Rally-Round-the-Flag Effect’ which he said traditionally follows a crisis in Britain.

Dr George responded: ‘NHS staff have undoubtedly put their heart and soul into keeping the nation alive, and organisations like the Foundation are there to support them through these most difficult of times.

‘These views of someone entirely disconnected from what is really going on in the healthcare system are unwelcome, unhelpful and simply naive.’

The IEA’s chairman, Neil Record, has donated £32,000 to the Health Secretary, according to Electoral Commission records.

The link prompted Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner to demand Matt Hancock pay back the money in view of the ‘disgraceful attack’ on the NHS.

The think-tank has also been associated with 14 members of Boris Johnson’s cabinet through its initiatives. has approached the IEA and Department of Health and Social Care for comment.

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