At golf. And many other things I’m sure, but as a sports and golfing fanatic in particular, I was over the moon with the pasting that the European team give the Americans at the Ryder Cup in Gleneagles a couple of weeks ago.
It is an event that we have come to dominate over the last 20 years; historically it has been victory of a cohesive team (Europe) over a group of gifted individuals (USA)…although now we could argue to have the better individuals as well as the team unit. The pain of these repeated defeats is felt so greatly in the USA that a Ryder Cup “taskforce” has been launched to analyse every minute detail, from selection to performance, logistics to the WAGs’ outfits to find inefficiencies and improvements.
Whist this is a huge compliment to the European team, it is also cause for concern on the golfing front…the USA is very much used to being the best in the world. (Get ready for the hopefully not entirely illogical link…)
Take medicine for example, where the Europe and USA Ryder Cup fortunes could not be more clearly reversed. I cannot be alone in worrying for the state of the NHS; whilst this remains a wonderful institution that (somehow) manages to provide free healthcare across a huge range of medical specialities, to a whole nation, without directly charging us a penny for its use (I would support changes to that incidentally!)…there are clearly problems afoot and election related battles have already commenced. Funding, waiting lists, drug approvals, quality and cleanliness and above all critical illness survival rates head a significant list of issues.
Yet without wholesale changes, including the funding model, is it even right for us to expect more from this fine institution? I fear a USA Ryder Cup style “taskforce” on the NHS would identify decades worth or issues to be dealt with, some perhaps so ingrained in our psyche as to be insurmountable.
Contrast the USA where cancer survival rates are materially higher than the average in the EU (sadly we are below average in in the EU) and huge research and development budgets combine with an approach to Centres of Excellence and Innovation that mean if anything the gap in outcomes between the US and UK/EU is likely to continue widening rather than allowing us to catch up.
Perhaps our dominance in the Ryder Cup is purely the luck of 2 great generations of players? Let us hope not…if it comes down to process, detailed analysis and spending power, we will be back to playing second fiddle (or 17th in healthcare?!) before we know it…