I have excellent news for the naysayers, the doom-mongers, the moaners and sneering elitists who always want to put the UK down and undermine faith in the greatest country in the world.
You are wrong. There is nothing fundamentally, structurally broken in the NHS.
It does not need root-and-branch reform, it is not over-managed by pen-pushers and time-wasters, and it is not necessary to privatise it or introduce an insurance-based system.
All you have to do is fund it properly and it will perform properly.
We know this from the excellent work of the world-renowned King’s Fund, the independent experts on the NHS. It found that:
The UK healthcare system has fewer key resources than its peers.
It performs relatively well on some measures of efficiency but waiting times for common procedures were “middle-of-the-pack” before the Covid-19 pandemic and have deteriorated sharply since.
The UK performs well on protecting people from some of the financial costs of ill health but lags behind its peers on important healthcare outcomes, including life expectancy and deaths. Which when you come to think about it is quite a lag.
And that there is little evidence that one particular “type” of healthcare system or model of healthcare funding produces systematically better results than another. This means that tearing up the NHS because it is not working is just stupid; you just need to make it work better.
Strange that all those right wing commentators draw exactly the opposite conclusion. It is almost as if they want to destroy the NHS and impose a far less efficient private model that kills people earlier but makes a profit.
Instead, the UK’s main problem is that it does not spend or invest enough and has too few hospital beds, has too few scanners and other high-tech equipment and too few nurses and doctors, probably because it pays them less. It also has fewer managers, which should end that endless propaganda about the NHS being sucked dry by middle management; but won’t.
So, the major problem with the NHS is this, it is not a bad system, it is not over-managed, it is efficient and it is failing in comparison with other systems not because they are different but because it is underfunded.
This is therefore the worst possible time for the government to fight to the death to keep down pay for nurses and doctors – which means that after we spend a fortune training them, they then head off for better-paid jobs abroad – and it is a terrible time to squeeze the funding of the system.
The NHS was world-beating in 2010 and in terminal decline by 2014 as austerity struck. Increases in spending have never kept up with demand and Tory politicians have ignored all the warning signs, including from Covid.
As the King’s Fund found in an earlier report: “International comparisons show that UK health spending would have been £40 billion higher every year between 2010 and 2019 if it had matched the EU14’s average”.
The NHS needs more money, not reforming, not a new model, not private sector involvement, not fewer managers.
Just more money to pay for more capacity, more doctors, and more nurses.