Monday, July 11, 2005

Our Wonderful, Wonderful NHS

Last year my father, who is 68, had to have his gall bladder removed. This is a straightforward, routine procedure using keyhole surgery. The NHS advised that there was a nine month waiting list for the operation. Rather than endure intermitent agony, my father forked out £900 to have the procedure performed privately.
My mother, also 68, now has a problem with one of her toes. The waiting list for chiropractic surgery is eighteen months. She is experiencing great discomfort walking and has decided that she has no alternative but to pay £2,400 to have the operation performed privately.
My parents can afford to pay for the treatment. What annoys me is that people who have dutifully paid taxes all their lives can't rely on the NHS to provide their care when it is most needed.
The Chancellor has thrown billions at the NHS to no appreciable benefit. We were told that increasing expenditure to the western European average was the answer. It wasn't.
The Labour government, heirs to the originators of the post war welfare state, had the opportunity to radically reform the health system. Frank Field was told by Tony Blair to 'go away and think the unthinkable'. He did. We have never been told what his conclusions were. The government chickened out and we are all left with the consequences of the endemic failure of a monolithic, highly centralised, beuraucratic behemoth.
Even the food in our hospitals is inedible and doesn't even provide adequate nutrition. Add to that dirty wards and superbugs and you have a system of healthcare which is a disgrace.
It baffles me why we just don't look at how other developed countries organise their healthcare.
If a mixture of private and public provision is producing results in France and Germany why don't we just bite the bullet and accept that wholly socialised medicine has had its day.
Wake up Mr Brown. It's not 1945 any more.


Herge Smith said...

When I was a civil servant I met Frank Field and asked him what the unthinkable was - he just laughed. Labour are still having a laugh.

You're right - it's bollocks this waiting.... and quite evil - they figure the older people are the more likely it is they will die before needing 'expensive' surgery.


garfer said...

If they have to go private repay their fucking taxes I say.
'Freely available at the point of use'. Bollocks. It's not 'free' because you pay for it with your taxes and it's not 'available' when you need it most.

Sniffy said...

I was having this argument the other day; people who take out private health insurance and don't use NHS services should get big tax rebates. Simple as that. Instead, people are taxed further on any private health cover they have. Thanks, Gordon.

You have to be careful what consultants say about waiting times though - remember that they've got their own private practices. In many ways, these "independent sector treatment centres" will do away with bastard consultants trying to milk the NHS anymore because they're wittling away at waiting lists without them (South Africans you know).

The NHS was doomed to failure, unfortunately. That's being unfair. Peoples' expecations of what the NHS could achieve always far outweighed the real possibilities.

garfer said...

The Scottish NHS is worse. We have 'old Labour' up here. They fight tooth and nail against Foundation hospitals and nationalised one of the only substantial private hospital in Scotland.
Average expenditure per capita is 25% higher per head. Waiting lists are longer and nothing is improving.

Sniffy said...

Yes of course, that's another great idea from Labour - split the NHS up.


oasis ballerina said...

I work for the NHS, and it's no wonder that they are shutting hospitals down left, right and centre. They've spents billions on a new crappy database and spend a fortune paying traveeling expenses for 3 different people going to the same place miles and miles away but car sharing isn't appropriate as they live in different places.