It would not be the start of a new year without a bleak story about how the vital service that we all depend on is in crisis. By now I am sure everyone is up to date on the crisis and the state of our NHS, and in this article I will be focusing on what measures we can take to save our NHS.
The NHS has recently failed to meet its target to get patients in A&E seen within four hours, and has reached the lowest level in a decade. In the period from October to December, 92.6% of patients were seen within the four hour period – this is below the 95% target. These new figures are on top of the stories from last year regarding a shortage of hospital beds and a failure by ambulance services. An increasing amount of people are having to wait for hours in ambulances outside hospitals with many patients left waiting for such a prolonged period, that they were treated inside the ambulances. Patients are not only left waiting in ambulances but they are also left waiting for ambulances. One horrifying and high profile case in 2015 revealed that after breaking his leg whilst playing rugby, Luigi Segadelli had to wait three hours for an ambulance to arrive despite the hospital being situated just five minutes away.
Further bad news regarding the state of the National Health Service is coming from experts for example Dr Cliff Mann, of the college of Emergency Medicine warned that hospitals were reaching a “tipping point”. This idea was heavily supported by Dr Mark Porter, of the British Medical Association, who said that hospitals were facing “unprecedented levels of demand”. Instead of continuing to regurgitate more depressing and dismal statistics at you I want to talk about how we can overcome the immense pressure that our NHS is facing.
That is the current problem that we are facing so how do we save our health service? The first thing needs to be addressed is the budget. The NHS requires a massive cash injection. There are several ideas on how we can secure the funds needed to improve the National Health Service. Obviously we can raise taxes, although that is a notion often marginalised due to its unpopularity. However when faced with the decision of paying more in tax to get better healthcare, I think the general populace will agree that the money needed has to come from somewhere. Labour is proposing another idea to help plug the gap in the NHS, and that is the mansion tax. The reason I support the mansion tax is because millions of people rely on the NHS to be able to live this is a matter of life and death, so those who can afford to pay more should do so. A decent standard of healthcare should not be beyond anyone or out of reach for working class people. If millionaires need to be taxed slightly more to save lives then they have a moral obligation to pay more tax.
I believe there needs to be a significant increase in the standard of education but also the price tag. Free education (or at least reverting back to £3,000 for university tuition fees) would encourage more people especially people from working class backgrounds to go to university, to study and gain degrees and qualifications that would directly benefit our NHS.
We also need education on the topic of when we should be using A&E, many people sit in A&E for problems that are not an emergency and this has a negative affect waiting times. If people used the correct network to see medical staff then this would reduce waiting times and free up NHS staff to help more people effectively.
The NHS is a massive institution and the majority of Health Ministers who are in charge of running that beloved institution have absolutely no experience in working in the NHS. It is also fair to assume that a fair proportion of MPs are also with Bupa. It is crucial that politicians do not use the NHS as a political tactic or weapon but seek unbiased professional advice. This shouldn’t be something thought of to win political points, but it is something that lives depend on.
I am a twenty year old who will freely admit if I was in charge of restructuring the NHS (apart from the obvious of removing middle management) I wouldn’t have a clue what to do. The same goes for government ministers, now they can read lots of papers by academics who disagree with every other academic and they can listen to their overpaid advisors but the people who should have a say in how the NHS is ran is the staff. The people who deal with it on a daily basis should be given a say on how the NHS needs to be ran, and what are the significant problems. No one is more aware of the daily problems that doctors and nurses face more than the doctors and nurses themselves. So why are they not consulted to a degree that is acceptable, it is ludicrous for politicians who do not work there daily to overrule and disregard the eyes on the ground.
My final suggestion is one that really needs to be supported across parties the NHS requires stability, each parliament politicians come up with new politically motivated dogma on how to save the NHS. The constant reform and change that the NHS is forced to endure cannot be a good thing. To keep changing such a vital system so callously is a dangerous practice. There needs to be a long term plan for the NHS, parties need to stop using the National Health Service as something to win votes and they need to pull together to decide the fate of something that is vital for the United Kingdom to function as a society.
This debate is one I am sure will continue but after the recent figures being released and many professionals coming out claiming that the NHS is in crisis. It is going to take more than just David Cameron brushing off these claims (like he did in PMQs 8/01/2015) for me to ever trust the NHS in Tory hands. Our NHS is in a massive crisis and for political reasons our current Prime Minister will not even acknowledge this. That is why in the next election I will be voting for a stronger NHS. A Labour run NHS.
By Sam Pritchard