David Cameron, the NHS and a £400,000 yacht
It’s always interesting with such a speech (which is long on rhetoric and short on facts) to at least investigate the facts that are there.
And one fact stood out. In a section on why the NHS needs to be reformed Mr Cameron referred to a health authority which had spent £400,000 on a yacht. He described it as an example of the “waste and inefficiency” in the NHS which needed to be rooted out.
A quick Google search reveals Mr Cameron’s reference.
Four years ago (well good anecdotes are hard to find) Hull’s Primary Care Trust decided to spend £400,000 of its budget supporting a project aimed at reducing the number of young people not in employment, education or training (NEETS to give it its full acronym).
The plan was to put 150 17-19 year-olds a year through an intensive 10 week training course to improve their confidence, skill levels and aspirations – including two weeks spent at sea onboard the famous yacht.
NHS Hull said they supported the programme because one in seven NEETS today will dead in ten years – and in the meantime consume a lot of healthcare.
So what’s happened to Mr Cameron’s wasteful and inefficient project since then?
Well last year 266 young people on the NEETS register took part – and today 179 (or 67 per cent of them) have gone into jobs, education or training.
29 of those on the scheme had criminal records and had been referred to the project by the Youth Justice Service. Only three of them have subsequently reoffended.
Oh yes, and the project has been held up as a beacon of good practice for the Big Society to emulate by the Institute of Community Cohesion.
Sounds like quite a good use of £400,000.
But there is a broader point here.
It’s depressing and demoralising when politicians, especially those as senior as Mr Cameron, rubbish the work of people they know nothing about to score a cheap points.
It discourages communities from taking risks and looking for innovative solutions to difficult problems. It’s also pretty unpleasant.
Don’t expect an apology from the Prime Minister – but he should perhaps stick to talking about the yachts he knows about.
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