This is a quote from an article I found in the New York Magazine and whilst it is specific to the current mess that the Republican party in the United States are getting themselves into over healthcare it is just as applicable to Britain. A few weeks ago I had a long debate with my good friend about the threats that the NHS faces under this Tory government. My friend argued that the way that the Government has allowed the social care mess to develop is the model that would be followed to destroy many of the founding tenets of the NHS. I disagreed and my argument is that no Government of whatever colour can get away with changing the NHS in any real sense. As has been proved time and again when any change is introduced, no matter how worthy, people will oppose it. An example of this would be the protests about centralisation of paediatric heart services after the Bristol baby scandal. It doesn’t matter that most people would ever be effected by the changes or that they would probably improve the chances of the child’s survival – it is a closure of a local service and the people really care about that.
I was thinking about this when Anne Widdecombe went completely off topic on the This Week show and started to bang on about reforming or replacing the NHS. It is very easy to call for grand commissions or reviews so that we can come up with a new NHS for the 21st century. This may well be the best way forward when trying to meet exponential growth in demand with finite resources but just ask the congressmen and women who have been holding meetings in their individual states this week what it is like to defend changing people’s health care provision. It is very easy to tweet about professional protestors, I don’t believe that is the case, but when the government, any government, wants to really stir up troubles for itself it tries to change health care provision. I suspect the President of the United States may well be starting to learn that lesson around about now. You can build as many walls as you like but don’t you take away my little Johnnie’s Asthma treatment!
So what is the way forward? I personally haven’t got a clue, nothing new there you may well rightly mutter to yourself, other than I do believe that the NHS does have to change and probably radically. This will take time and a lot of patience but I don’t think it will happen and I suspect we will end up like the USA where the healthcare system is about a fifth of the total GDP ($3 trillion to $16 trillion) – currently in the UK it is around about a 16th of total GDP (£120 billion to £2.6 trillion). If this is the case then goodness only knows what will have to be dropped to pay for this.
Such is life or is that death?