Monday, May 20, 2024
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To tackle the NHS, first cut out the nonsense


THE new Prime Minister will not be able to side-step the issue of the NHS for long.

A year-long inquiry in 2017 by a House of Lords committee concluded that unless several changes were implemented, the NHS and adult social care system would be unsustainable. It further concluded that the underlying principle of a health system which is tax-funded and free at the point of need was the most cost-effective method of delivering health care. The key recommendation of the report was the creation of an independent Office for Health and Care Sustainability.

In short, the learned members of the committee proposed to fix things by pumping more and more money into the black hole, overseen by yet more pointless bureaucrats. 

Brilliant, who would have thought it?

The incoming Prime Minister must have the resolve to break the existing paradigm that was established at the inception of the NHS. The principle of free for everyone at the point of need is a laudable egalitarian principle, although the prediction at the time was that we would eventually be so healthy as a nation that there would be no need for the NHS.

To continue with the principle is the easy answer if you are a socialist, and it avoids confronting awkward questions. However, to understand what we expect from the NHS and the cost implications these questions must inevitably be confronted.

What is the acceptable cost to society of extending an individual lifespan beyond the biblical three score years and ten? Indeed, we have only recently ruined the economy of the nation, supposedly to protect those already in their eighties, inevitably nearing the closing of their life.

Should society automatically bear the cost for non-life-threatening treatments such as fertility and gender change?

Should society be expected to underwrite profligate spending? Diversity managers, critical race theory and pronoun nonsense spring to mind.

Is it right that we do not charge the cost of treatment for non-UK citizens to their country of residence because doctors feel this is a racist approach?

Does every new expensive treatment from the pharmaceutical companies have to be adopted? Saying yes is easy but saying no I appreciate is very difficult.

Is a two-tier health system so difficult to imagine? 

Worst of all the NHS is a political football between good and bad, Labour and Conservative. Can the ball be taken permanently off the field by making the NHS into an employee-owned and -managed trust with a contract funded by a fixed proportion of GDP? 

Surely the cost of healthcare must be proportional to the finances of the nation before we are consumed by this pseudo-religious institution.

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Ian Ashworth-Kirkham
Ian Ashworth-Kirkham
Ian Ashworth-Kirkham is a retired company director.

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