The National Health Service
I was reading today about the massive problems within the British National Health Service. According to the Red Cross NHS overcrowding is a humanitarian crisis after it’s worst week in 15 years sees A & Es shut their doors. The NHS is supposed to be the envy of the world but when you read about bed shortages and people dying because they have waited too long for ambulances, or for treatment then there is cause for serious concern.
The UK’s free health service was launched in 1948 and has been since then the source of great national pride. I’ve been treated by NHS doctors and had stays in hospital 4 times over the years and can say from experience that the doctors, nurses and non medical staff do a marvellous job under difficult circumstances.
Shortage of Trained Medical Staff
The problem for a number of years has been a lack of funding and a shortage of training places for doctors and nurses. Because of the shortage of home trained medical staff we have been hiring doctors and nurses from abroad, some of who don’t speak very good English. That puts patients health and even lives at risk and we should ensure that all of our medical staff speak and understand good English apart from having a high standard of training.
Medical staff speaking poor English isn’t a new problem in my experience. When I went into labour in 1972 I was assigned a Chinese nurse who couldn’t speak enough English to explain why she was approaching me with a cut throat razor in her hand. I was a naïve 17 and absolutely terrified.
According to the Labour party the blame lies with the Conservative government and their austerity measures, but it took a long time for the country to get back on it’s feet after the last recession and the Labour party policy of overspending wouldn’t help. The national debt is huge and any good housekeeper will tell you that you need to reign spending in when you are trying to budget, not overspend.
As the Labour party were in power until May 2010 I suspected that the cutbacks in training and hospital beds started before the Conservatives came into power and checked. In fact Tony Blair’s government introduced strict financial budgeting as one of their NHS reforms. They restructured medical training so unsuccessfully that the then secretary of state for health was forced to apologise for the bad management. Medical training was revised but its flawed implementation left the NHS with significant medical staffing problems.
That tells me that the start of the problems with medical training was way back before 2010 when the Conservatives won the election. Following is an extract from Wikipedia, which shows that bed shortages started under the Labour government and so did some forms of privatisation which Labour politicians like to accuse the Conservatives of.
‘The Blair Government, whilst leaving services free at point of use, encouraged outsourcing of medical services and support to the private sector. Under the Private Finance Initiative, an increasing number of hospitals were built (or rebuilt) by private sector consortia; hospitals may have both medical services (such as Independent Sector Treatment Centre (ISTC or “surgicentres”), and non-medical services (such as catering) provided under long-term contracts by the private sector. A study by a consultancy company which worked for the Department of Health showed that every £200 million spent on privately financed hospitals resulted in the loss of 1000 doctors and nurses. The first PFI hospitals contained some 28 per cent fewer beds than the ones they replaced.‘
So when the Labour party blames the Conservatives for NHS shortcomings they have short memories, but the Conservatives haven’t done a very good job with the NHS either.
Anyway this article started out about the NHS not politics so let’s get back to that.
Where is the Money?
Shortage of money shouldn’t be a problem for this country now that business is booming. Yesterday it was reported that Britain had the fastest growing economy in the world last year despite the doom and gloom predictions of those who wanted to stay in the EU. In that case there should surely be some extra money available for the NHS. However, I for one would have been happy to pay a little extra on my national insurance to help ensure that our health service stayed great.
Living Longer, Costing More
It’s said that people live longer nowadays and therefore cost more to care for. To counteract that retirement age has been increased to 66 from 60 for women and 65 for men and will be increased further to 68. Some younger people complain about the cost of care for the elderly as if they think we should cease to exist once we retire. If I had been born a year earlier I would have retired by now with a pension after 46 years of working and paying taxes that would have gone towards the younger generation’s child support, medical treatment and schooling. One day they will get old.
Foreign Aid A Waste Of Money?
We have been paying billions out in foreign aid and sometimes on some ridiculous projects, not to mention aiding corruption. Last night it was announced that the £5.2 million support for an Ethiopian girl band was being scrapped, not until after they received £4 million though. It was reported earlier in the week that this country gives a quarterly income to thousands of people in Pakistan, they get a debit card and they can withdraw the money and spend it however they want.
As a taxpayer I am not happy to help fund either of these schemes or anything other than helping the starving, helping to rebuild countries after wars or giving aid when national disasters strike. I suspect that as the Cameron government pledged 7% of GBP to foreign aid they have been scrabbling around to find enough aid projects. What I would rather we spent at least some of the foreign aid budget on is the NHS, more elderly care and helping the homeless. It’s that saying ‘charity begins at home’.
Free Medical Care For Foreigners
Currently anybody who enters this country can walk into a hospital and receive free treatment despite them not paying into the system. It’s widely known that pregnant women fly in from Africa to have their babies here because it’s safer for them. Apparently some migrants encourage family members to come here for free treatment on the NHS. Staff at hospitals are supposed to ascertain where these people come from and we are supposed to get payment from the governments of their countries, but hospital staff are squeamish about discovering their patient’s origins and when they do not every country will pay what is owed.
Whenever I’ve visited another country I have paid for medical insurance and I believe that it should be mandatory for every visitor to this country to have at least one year of medical insurance paid for. I also think that foreigners should be asked to produce their passports before getting medical treatment, unless of course it’s a life or death emergency.
Everybody coming to live in this country should at the least attempt to learn English, that’s what I believe anyway. It isn’t just about the lack of integration, it’s common sense that you should be able to communicate with healthcare professionals for your own or children’s safety. Providing translators or a telephone translation service in the health service costs money that would be much better spent on healthcare itself.
If you think of the cost for translators in the NHS is fine just think about how much translators cost taxpayers in courts, policing and other social services. If they can’t attempt to learn English then they should pay translation costs themselves.
IVF, Plastic Surgery and Sex Changes
When the NHS was first thought of it was about giving access to good healthcare for everybody not providing free IVF, Plastic Surgery and Sex Changes, or should I be more politically correct and say gender reassignment.
IVF – I can sympathise with those who can’t have their own children, but in this increasingly over populated world having children isn’t an entitlement. If it happens it happens, there are plenty of orphans in the world needing homes. If that isn’t good enough and you must have your own baby pay for it yourself.
Plastic Surgery – Wonderful for those with birth defects. bad scarring from accidents or burns, but why should taxpayers pay for cosmetic surgery like boob and nose jobs?
Sex Changes – I’m not going to call it gender reassignment just because some people think that it sounds more politically correct. I find the increasing amount of people who want to change sex disturbing and especially when you hear of very young children getting councelling on the way to getting their sex changed because they identify more with the opposite sex. I wanted to be a boy like my 4 brothers, played with their toys, didn’t like wearing dresses. My younger brother played with my dolls, it was all very natural and we are both glad that we weren’t encouraged to change sex when we were younger. I just think that far more consideration should be given about this matter and that nobody should be given help with anything to do with changing their sex until they have lived as an adult for at least 5 years.
Privatised Car Parking
I question why private companies are allowed to make a profit from hospital visitors and patients. Surely if any profit is to be made from this facility the hospitals should get the money to help their funding. Perhaps in patients should pay towards their own food too. I’ve just read about a man who was removed by court order after blocking a bed for 2 years and refusing to leave after he was deemed fit. I wonder if he would have left quicker if he had to pay for his board and lodgings for his over stay.
More Waste of Money
I read recently that a lot of money could be saved if the NHS had a central ordering system and warehouse to distribute supplies to different hospitals and health centres. For example different hospitals may buy different brands of bandages individually. If there was one ordering system the same brand of bandages could be bulk bought at a cheaper rate and supplied to every hospital and health centre in the country. That’s what the big supermarkets do and if it works for them it could work for the NHS.
Next is just a drop in the ocean up to some of the huge amount of waste that goes on but it is still a waste of money. Sandwell and West Birmingham hospital who announced that they were cutting 450 jobs for budget savings last June spent £1,265 to change over 100 toilet signs on 3 sites showing men, women, disabled and gender neutral.
The toilets now all have a grab bar, sanitary bins and no urinals. OK grab bars are a good thing for the disabled and some elderly folk, but sanitary bins in all toilets and making them gender neutral is going too far and a complete waste of brass. I would not want to use the same public toilets as men, nor would most women. As long as any hospital is wasting money like that it cannot say that it needs more money before common sense.
What do you think about the National Health Service?