Dr Ben White famously quit live on air to fight a legal battle against government cuts to the NHS. And now, he’s warned of government attempts to wind down the health service while the public is distracted by the calamities of Brexit.
A doctor calls
This week, the government decided to axe its 18-week target for operations. This means patients will be facing longer waits for treatment.
— Dr Ben White (@drbenwhite) March 30, 2017
But Dr White goes on to provide a detailed layout of the government’s assault on the health service. Here are two of the tweets which sum up his case:
I'm conscious each time NHS privatisation is mentioned, many roll their eyes at 'conspiracy theorists'. I want to deconstruct that.. 1/9
— Dr Ben White (@drbenwhite) March 25, 2017
"as the gap between supply and demand grows, by nature people will turn to a private product" (pic ref). I can't phrase it any better. 7/9 pic.twitter.com/8cgwYaAO4E
— Dr Ben White (@drbenwhite) March 25, 2017
The evidence is clear
The government claims the NHS is suffering a financial crisis due to an unmanageable rise in demand (ageing population, ‘health’ tourism, immigrant population). But a look at the numbers reveals this is not the case. Dr Ben White’s analysis is supported by the evidence.
First, demand. There has been no shock up-tick in demand for NHS services.
As The Canary’s John Nedham writes:
In short, it defies logic to claim, as the population grows and the average age increases, that a rise in demand for medical services has come as a surprise. Whatever the assorted word-jugglers and political spin doctors might like you to believe, if there are more people there will be more patients. And those patients’ expectations are no more unreasonable than they have ever been.
So why is the NHS in crisis?
The answer is simple. The government chose to underfund the service, providing it with less money than it required. And the resulting crisis was entirely predictable. Responding to the government’s 10-year budget forecast in 2015, The King’s Fund warned:
The ten years up to 2020/21 are likely to see the largest sustained fall in NHS spending as a share of GDP in any period since 1951.
As a result the NHS is struggling to meet its obligations to patients.
What makes this all the more unnecessary is that the funds the NHS requires are entirely affordable. In 2014, the Commonwealth Fund still judged the NHS to be the best healthcare system in the world, and the most cost effective too.
The secret to a decent NHS
The UK has a GDP (amount of wealth we produce each year) of over £2tn a year. The NHS costs us just £116bn. UK citizens pay less money, for better care, than almost any other healthcare system in the world.
Right now, the NHS is suffering a crisis manufactured by those seeking to profit from its decline. It allows politicians and the media to scapegoat patients, staff, and the concept of the NHS itself, rather than take responsibility for a crisis of their own making.
Some argue we can’t afford to keep the NHS. The truth is, we can’t afford not to.
– Support the junior doctors in their fight against the government.
– Support the Save Our NHS campaign, and other NHS campaigns.
Featured image via screengrab
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