The NHS has been in the news again recently and, once again, for the wrong reasons. Reports indicate that one in five NHS Trusts are not meeting the key national performance targets for Accident & Emergency (A & E) departments, cancer and routine surgery appointments.
Commentators are now saying that the NHS is being gripped by an ‘eternal winter’, meaning that while winter in Britain is, or has become, a time in which the UK’s health care provider struggles to deal with the annual increase in illnesses due to the temperatures at this time of year, the NHS is now unable to deal with everything year-round.
Labour’s health spokesman, Jonathan Ashworth, was quoted in one national newspaper as saying, ‘Behind each of these statistics is a person waiting longer in pain and distress for an operation, perhaps languishing on a trolley in an overcrowded A& E or disgracefully forced to endure the burden of not receiving timely treatment for cancer. The Government should be getting a grip of this mess but instead are left utterly paralysed by the ongoing Brexit shambles while patients pay the price.’
It has become very fashionable to blame everything on Brexit but if one were to assume that the UK had not held that referendum and a majority of the people had never voted to leave the EU, would it be any different? Indeed, would it be any different under Labour?
The answer is no. There are a number of reasons for this and one of the aspects never commented upon during the time of the last Labour Government is that most of the huge amount of money thrown by Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and their colleagues at the NHS went on salaries and wages – not on treating patients and some 70% of the annual budget for the NHS goes in that direction. Which doesn’t leave a lot left for actually doing the job the NHS is supposed to do; helping people who are not well get better (or to pay the debts accrued under Labour due to their Private Finance Initiative).
The problems besetting the NHS however, are not financial. The NHS has plenty of cash but how it is spent, on what and on whom, is the problem.
Dr. Martin Scurr, in an article for the Daily Mail on Tuesday November 20, 2018, pointed out that at for doctors at front-line level, General Practice (your GP) does not have the same attraction as it once did. Despite Labour’s renegotiating GP contracts and giving them more money for working fewer hours, as Dr. Scurr suggested too many GPs are now faced with an ever-increasing amount of work dealing with administration tasks instead of actually treating patients. As a consequence, a significant number of GPs are either retiring completely, or choosing to do other work (often more lucrative). This is why there is a shortage nationwide of general practitioners.
The result of that has been a sharp increase in the number of foreign doctors working for the NHS at GP level. In my book, ‘Comments of a Common Man’, I looked at this aspect more closely and wrote the following:
Both Labour and Conservative parties have suggested that they will launch huge recruitment drives around the world to ‘bring the best’ to the UK but there are two immediate problems with this. The first is that such a policy deprives those countries of their most capable people. It begs the question - why is the UK entitled to take the best from elsewhere simply because it has become so inept at educating and training its own?
The second is that the NHS pays well…That attracts many of those from other countries, who can earn more in the UK than they can back home. However, because of the money they get, there are a number of them now here (and a number set to rise considerably) ostensibly employed to help the ill get better, who are little more than foreign mercenaries lining their pockets with British taxpayer’s gold.
This may seem like an unfair indictment of many of those from other countries and it is true to say that most do their utmost to help, are dedicated and extremely hard-working. Nevertheless there are still significant numbers who are simply opportunist chancers on the make. This was amply demonstrated by the case of Zholia Alemi, who practiced as an NHS psychiatrist for an astounding 22 years, despite not having any real qualifications, having faked the ones she presented. There have also been numerous reports in recent times of foreign doctors actually making patients worse (to the point of death) who cannot speak adequate English. And given the time Alemi was fraudulently at work, the problem is not new.
They may well be in a minority but those who are merely taking the money are also helped by the other big problem with the NHS. Again as I point out in my book, the NHS is extraordinarily top-heavy, employing more managers of one kind or another than it does doctors and nurses. It is from here that much of that administration burden emanates.
The NHS bureaucrat’s primary job is not to ensure patients get help. Their job is to cut costs and they do so by putting as many barriers to actual care against the patient as possible. Once a patient has got past those barriers (if they can) the treatment they then get is usually very good. But you have to overcome the bureaucratic obstacle course first.
As long as that impenetrable maze is allowed to exist, the NHS will continue to struggle to deliver patient care and will carry on eating vast sums of taxpayer’s money, most of which ends up in the pockets of those very same bureaucrats - because that is where the money goes and the bureaucratic burden doesn’t change regardless of which party is running the country. Labour or Conservative, the pernicious growth and power of the NHS manager continues to grow.
Consequently the people of the UK must not, under any circumstances, get sick. Or for that matter, get old either. While it is so scandalously over-managed and mismanaged, the letters NHS really will stand for ‘No Hope Service’.
© Kevan James 2018.
You can read more on the NHS, along with numerous other topics on life in the UK today, in ‘Comments of a Common Man’, available from Amazon at £9.99
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