Michael Shaw discusses the difficulties of effective NHS reform.
The NHS is at the centre of Britain’s ticking time bomb of debt. Ironically, it’s the Left who are being the most conservative about it.
When the welfare state began, Britain was undoubtedly the greatest nation on earth. Our wealth was unparalleled and people thought that the British Empire would never end. The idea of average life expectancy being anywhere near eighty years old could not possibly of been in anyone’s head: except for those in London’s last opium dens! Even ambitious estimates suggested that when introduced, the basic state pension would only be received by little more than 10% of the population.
Ambitious estimates suggested that when introduced, the basic state pension would only be received by little more than 10% of the population.
At the centre of the issue is how this all came about. Politicians were swept to power on a platform of promising lots of ‘free stuff’ – specifically promising the most ‘free’ stuff at the lowest price. Little has changed, but the notion that we could just leave any deficit for the next generation to deal with has finally caught up with us; indeed, there is a tacit conspiracy between Ed Balls and George Osborne to portray themselves as poles apart. They are really only about £20 billion apart (at most).
And this is why the NHS is the ticking time bomb. It’s been put on a pulpit as some sort of unfaltering, all-knowing Goddess which should be free from all reform, criticism and analysis. It is regarded as a national treasure. This is true; we should be extremely proud that we are one of the only nations in the world with free healthcare at the point of use. However, even conservative estimates suggest that the NHS is borrowing £250 million a day just to survive and God knows how much it is losing. If we are serious about actually moving this country towards being a modern, thriving economy, the NHS needs serious reform. Part-privatization is largely rhetoric – and a far cry from true privatisation.
Part-privatization is largely rhetoric – and a far cry from true privatisation.
Now, the idea of privatisation seems very attractive to some of us: especially on the right. However, as I stated above, politicians are elected on the basis of promising the people the most for lowest possible price. Scaling back or selling off something that we continually insist we pay for, even though our national insurance etc. goes far from paying for the NHS at all, isn’t politically popular. Thus, I’m going to state the obvious. Unless the NHS goes bankrupt (impossible as it’s run by the state – thus exempt from the same economic and financial responsibilities as any normal business), it is here to stay; introducing some ‘tenner a month’ Obamacare-like membership fee is merely kicking the can down the road.
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