THE NHS, a national obsession to which the country has been appended for decades, has become the emperor without clothes. It continues to be venerated yet disintegrates before us with a waiting list of more than six million, ambulance response times which are longer than some people take to run a marathon, advice to avoid A&E departments and to call 111 instead which many report as being ‘useless’. All against a backdrop of missed cancer and cardiac diagnoses. If you or a loved one have the misfortune to be admitted to hospital your chances of being visited or being able to visit are severely restricted. In some NHS Trusts, visiting is forbidden.
I have searched in vain for any evidence that the health systems in other countries have been similarly affected. In the USA they are concerned about increased costs of health care, but not about its availability. In Australia it seems that there is no problem making an appointment and seeing a doctor. In fact, Australians report being more satisfied with their health services now than pre-Covid.
Considering the international response to Covid-19, when some countries had far more draconian measures than we did in the UK, it is hard to understand what has happened to the NHS. Australia managed Covid-19 in an almost hysterical fashion second only in insanity to neighbouring New Zealand. In both countries elective surgeries were cancelled but I fail to see any evidence of a current backlog.
Here in the UK a myth, verging on a lie, is perpetuated that the NHS has all but ground to a halt due to the ‘coronavirus pandemic’ or the ‘Covid-19 crisis’ when, clearly, there is some other reason. On the one hand, no reference is made to the obvious fact that the measures introduced to ‘save the NHS’ have paradoxically compounded its failure. Who would have predicted that closing hospitals to all but the Covid-19 infected would store up problems for the future? All made much harder to swallow by the fact that the predicted lethality of Covid-19 was never achieved and that, as repeatedly demonstrated, none of the measures that were introduced had the slightest positive effect on the spread of the virus.
Above I said ‘compounded’ the failure of the NHS, as it was clearly no good in the first place. It is far from being the best health service internationally. Money continues to be poured into its bottomless pit to no good effect. The service is short of nurses and doctors. Numbers of staff leaving the NHS and social care had levelled off before the Covid-19 panic but have since accelerated.
Specifically, and of much greater impact, is that primary care which can be effective in preventing unnecessary hospital admissions is in danger of losing one in three of its GPs. Nevertheless, the NHS is top-heavy with highly paid administrators, managers and chief executives of organisations such as the NHS Confederation which exist for no discernible purpose and concomitantly achieve nothing.
You might think that their chief executive Matthew Taylor would be fully occupied trying to help solve the current problems. Instead, he seems more concerned with trying to drive the rest of the population back into the Covid-19 dark ages. Meantime, instead of focusing on its mission of improving the health of the nation and caring for sick people the NHS is obsessed with woke issues such as the non-existent concept of ‘unconscious bias’ and the appointment of diversity and inclusion officers.
As a great many other countries seem to get it right without impoverishing their population through taxation, provide a considerable amount of choice, do not have appreciable waiting lists and the fact that nobody else has ever copied our system I have one simple suggestion about what needs to change in the NHS: everything.