On my BBC News app I read how researchers have found that NHS managers are trying to keep plans to cut hospital services in England secret. Managers have been told to keep plans out of the public domain, and they have been instructed on how to reject freedom of information requests. This is all part of NHS England’s 5 year strategy to release £22bn of efficiency savings by 2020.
One of the hospitals which may be closed in the drive to save money is St. George’s hospital in South London. I cannot even begin to imagine the nightmare. It is one of the U.K’s largest teaching hospitals, and serves well over a million people. I know it well because my youngest son was born there.
I do not have degrees in management, finance or economics, or in fact a degree in anything. I am just an ordinary person imbued with a modicum of common sense. So what I have to say below is just my own opinion. You may or may not agree with it, but I do welcome comments so that I can discover your point of view too:
The NHS was founded by Aneurin Bevan on July 5th 1948 at what is now the Trafford General Hospital in Manchester. The central principle was that it would be funded entirely from taxation, meaning that people paid into it according to their means. The Beveridge Report earlier in 1942 believed that the overall cost of medical care would decrease, as people would eventually be healthier under the new system and so would need less treatment.
All good theoretically in 1948, when in general terms a man could expect to live to 65 and a woman to 70. In 2012 the average life expectancy for a man was 79, and 83 for a woman. This tells me, a person with just a secondary school education, that people in 1948 died soon after retiring from work, but nowadays they are living for at least 14 years longer after retirement. UK Government welfare expenditure in 2014/5 shows that state pensions were the largest welfare expenditure, costing £86.5bn. The 2011 census shows that 1 in 6 people in Britain are over 65. Current pensioners have worked all their lives and many need treatment, just like everybody else does.
Obesity rates in the UK are the highest in Europe, and have increased to such an extent that now 20% of the population are obese. Obesity rates began to rise soon after 1984 with the ownership of microwave ovens and ready meals, plus the increased tendency of people to eat in cheap fast food outlets. There were few labour saving devices in 1948 and people worked harder, using up more calories. Nowadays the nation is more sedentary, causing a burgeoning of waistlines nearly 40 years after the NHS was founded. Problems caused by obesity include heart disease, cancer and diabetes, causing a surge in demand for NHS treatments not previously known in 1948. Also not everybody is working and paying N.I contributions, in fact quite a lot of people these days have no intention of ever working at all!
Alcohol, drug and smoking related illness are on the increase. The A&E departments are overwhelmed with alcoholics, binge drinkers, and drug addicts.
How are we going to solve all these problems? Well, perhaps admit the NHS is crumbling, and make all patients pay a means-tested charge every time they visit either the A&E department or are referred to a clinic to see a specialist or to undergo some type of procedure. Follow up clinics would still be free after the initial consultation or procedure. It’s no use just increasing the price of car park charges and prescriptions every few months, we all need to pay something towards saving such an important service. We pay for food, electricity, water and gas, so why not to use our hospitals? The more you use an NHS hospital the more you will have to pay, and this might encourage the nation not to take the NHS for granted and to look after its health more instead of (for instance) carrying on drinking, smoking and over-eating. What do you think?
This is not 1948 anymore; the NHS has been cut to the bare bones, and now we are all suffering.