Is the NHS fit for purpose?
The NHS seems to have accepted the fact that it is no longer the self-proclaimed ‘envy of the World – but now the struggle is on to make it ‘fit for purpose
Whilst we were still in the EU, Minister of Health Andrew Lansley, was asked why the NHS wasn’t taking advantage of strong European ties to learn from its superior health services? “It’s not the NHS way” was the reply – and that was that.
During the pandemic we were told we had to protect the NHS. Why?. Surely a national health service is there to protect the health of the people, not vice versa?
Now, when things surely should be getting back to near-normal, there is a massive backlog of cases, yet there doesn’t seem to be any desire to produce a nation-wide strategy to clear these. Covid is still produced as an excuse for this, but no-one has produced concrete evidence to say if this is really so.
Camilla Tominey writes in the Torygraph “Lest we forget that in the last quarter of 2020 the mean age of those with Covid was estimated to be 82.4 years, while the risk of dying of it if you were under 60 was less than 0.5% Who wouldn’t take those odds compared to being diagnosed with cancer”
The horrendous numbers of ‘extra’ mortalities “aren’t just statistics – they are people’s husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, daughters and sons. The appalling truth is that a lot of these people would probably still be here today were it not for lockdown… ,
Will the next Prime Minister do anything effective about the NHS?
Or will it be business as usual? As the Torygraph’s Leader Comment pointed out “the next Prime Minister will face an urgent question: what to do about the bureaucratic inertia, the compulsive blame-shifting and the institutional arrogance of the bodies that are meant to be running the NHS on our behalf”. He/She will announce, with a massive fanfare, that they are allocating X amount of extra funds to the NHS (which will boil down to a robbing-Peter-to-pay -Paul scenario). And, a bit like the promise of ’40 new hospitals’, we will find out actually it is 3 – not 40. Or something similar.
Why do we need a ‘Minister’ for Health?
A solution might be first to get rid of politicians and put clinicians in charge. Bring back Matrons for a start (I mean proper Matrons whose job was to run a hospital). A few of the brilliant ones I have known will soon sweep away the army of administrators blocking the efficient running of any hospital. And I can’t imagine a proper Matron allowing some of the dubious contracts awarded to suppliers, such as loo-roll manufacturers, for a start. You’d see Matron in the local shops buying loo rolls on special offer if she thought her hospital was being overcharged.
The NHS never was “the envy of the world”.
At its beginning in 1948 Health Ministers, doctors etc. from other countries came to see how the NHS was going to work; in those days the NHS genuinely was ‘the envy of the world’.
In the 1950s I spent over a year in NHS establishments being treated for polio, and every Friday my eminent surgeon’s ward round would be joined by several doctors from abroad; all sent by their health service (and paying for the privilege) to see what it was all about.
Today, not one country has copied us.
In most countries the State pays out for health care, funded by taxation, but they manage the funding more efficiently in most parts. and don’t scorn private sector involvement. In most countries you will get basic care, but can opt for tailored insurance packages which cost extra, but might give you a private room, etc.