The NHS is struggling from instability and consistent decline; it is time to set aside opinion conflicts and adopt affirmative action.
The UK’s NHS, the most magnanimous, and the most popular healthcare provision, has undergone numerous changes since the 1990s. Since when NHS was a model of global repute, to its current dilemma between exhaustless demand and incapacity to provide, it has come a long way and is now at the brim of humdrum. Ailing with inefficient staff members, lack of sufficient finances, inability to address rising demand, a lackluster economy and the impact of Brexit, the larger-than-life provider is battling its own survival and a dim future. Several concerns regarding solutions to revitalise NHS have been put forth; injecting finances, privatization, and complete replacement are some solutions that may be suggested. More than anything else, the concern suggests that NHS and its survival is top priority.
In an ingenuous analysis, the King’s Fund identified some flaws; patient-waiting-times got longer, delays in patient discharge rose, bed occupancy rates reached unmanageable levels, and, routine operations and cancer care worsened in their performance and results. The report also identified some good practices; increase in the number of doctors and nurses, reduction of management costs, and desired levels of public satisfaction. The most significant issue found was the inability to handle rising demands of healthcare and lack of consistent fund-allocation by the government. Thus, staff members’ performances declined and motivation died its natural death. This is quite in contrast to European economies like Switzerland, where every citizen has healthcare insurance because it is mandatory, in that the unaffordable poor are covered by the government while most citizens pay for their own insurance. That way, Singapore, where health care saving is a mandatory deduction on salaries, allows the development of a health care fund. Citizens are thus able to avail subsidised healthcare and receive cheap check-ups and surgeries. The dissimilarity is that these countries have not had the immigration influx as UK, which remains one of the sources of NHS’s inability to cater consistent rising demand.
The impacts of Brexit have been far more damaging to NHS. About 55,000 of the 1.3 million workers of NHS are from non-UK European countries, who, it is suspected, after Brexit, might want to return back. This comes at a time when NHS is struggling to retain permanent staff members and cries about regular employee shortfall. The Alder Hey Organs scandal, the outbreaks of infections like MRSA and Clostridium difficile have left dark spots on NHS’s identity.
The government must identify the root causes of inefficiency and treat those regardless, be it finance, policy amendment, increasing price, cutting costs, etc. The NHS, as it has been the cornerstone of UK politics, must be separated from political gains and be attended with a determined plan of resolution. Since immigration plays a role in rising demand, NHS could charge more from immigrants who are not UK citizens. Financial inability identified as the core issue, government must prioritise financial support for NHS. Staff members are its foundation and must never be ignored, hence a priority to retain existing members and hiring new ones must go without discussion. For a short period of time, privatising part of the services may be a progressive decision, provided it does not become a fertile ground for corruption.
Any good working system cannot be expected to continue improving forever, same is the case with NHS. Hitches and disallowances tend to occur from time-to-time. But it is high time to contemplate on the reasons for its declining stability. If NHS is not served the time that it demands from its governor, it is doomed to go into oblivion and along with it leave an inerasable dark spot on UK government’s capability to serve basic health needs affordably.