The problem with the NHS is not a problem with the NHS.
And with that bombshell, I should probably explain to my international nerdlets (and I will never get over the fact that I even have international nerdlets,) just what it is that I'm talking about.
The NHS is the National Health Service - set up so that everyone in the UK has access to state-run, FREE, healthcare. (Set up by a Welshman. #JustSaying.)
This year, as in many years, the NHS is under strain for its services. It can't cope with the demand.
When that happens, people suffer.
But here's the thing: it's no longer a single NHS.
The Welsh NHS and the Scottish NHS are run independently from the English NHS (and Northern Ireland has the HSC.)
Our portions were given into the hands of our devolved governments.
Currently, the Westminster government (deals with the English NHS,) is controlled by the Conservatives. The Welsh Government is controlled by Labour. And the Scottish Government is controlled by the SNP.
So, given that there are three separate governments controlling three separate portions of the NHS, I think it's time that we admitted the galumphing heffalump in the room:
All three countries are having the same problems.
This should tell you that it isn't something about the approach the governments to the health service are taking that's causing the struggles. It has to be something outside that.
Look, the NHS is the UK's safety net. Pure and simple. Imagine it like the net beneath a trapeze artist or tightrope walker.
When you drop people continually into the net, without moving the people we dropped in before, you can't really complain when the net begins to break.
It's not designed for you to keep filling it with more and more people. The problem isn't the net. If we had a bigger net, we'd just fill that one too.
The problem comes into two parts of the process: the dropping people into the net, and the failing to help them out of it.
So, why are we dropping people into the net? What are the things that are contributing to this strain on the NHS?
I'm no professor, but a few of these seem likely:
- an aging population
- a lack of dealing with the problem at GP level
- less care in the community leading to hospital admittance
- poverty leading to a decline in health standards:
- poorer diets
- higher risk of mental health problems
- little education for prevention of illness
- worse living conditions
- higher levels of drug and alcohol abuse
- industrial illness
The problem with clearing the net? Less beds. Less social care. Simple.
Look, I'm not saying that putting more money in is a bad thing - money in the health service will ALWAYS be put to good use - all I'm saying is that making the net bigger will only defer the problem, not solve it.
But I get that it's easier for politicians and journalists to focus on the immediacy of the thing - on the hospital waiting times, the full A & E departments, etc.- than on the complex social causes behind it.
Maybe I'm wrong - who knows? But from where I'm stood, nothing's going to get better until we look beyond the effects, and alter the cause.
We need to stop treating the symptoms, and treat the disease instead.
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