It is the party conference season, when the main political parties meet with their members, talk about the issues of the day and what is likely to be in their manifestos for the election next year.
As usual the NHS has been a major issue in the party conferences and is therefore likely to be in the forthcoming election with both parties promising that the NHS will be better of under their care. Why? The NHS frequently comes top in lists of the things that the British people are most proud of. Nigel Lawson a former health minister once said that ‘the NHS is the nearest thing that the British have to a national religion‘ David Cameron said before the last election that ‘Tony Blair summed up his priorities in three words – Education, education, education; I can sum up mine in three letters –NHS.’
Labour has proposed a mansion tax for properties over 2 million, the proceeds of which will be used to fund more services for the NHS.This is estimated to raise a maximum of 2.5 billion -not so generous when you consider this represents less than an extra 2.5% of the present NHS budget of £110 billion. Davis Cameron moved his wife to tears by speaking about the death of his disabled son and the NHS during his conference speech and promised to ring fence the NHS budget and have GPs working 7 days a week. Both parties also promised ‘reforms’ to the NHS. Having just weathered a period of major ‘reform’ with increasing privatisation and more administration and paperwork my heart sinks. Politicians rarely acknowledge that the World Health Organisation and the Commonwealth Institute [a widely regarded American think tank] have recently declared the NHS to be the most effective, efficient health system in the developed world.
We have an ageing population, one where obesity related diseases such as type 2 diabetes are consuming an ever increasing proportion of the budget and new drugs and medical advancements are going to cost more. As a result all developed countries have a problem with rising health care expenditure. In my opinion reorganisation does not overcome these factors. Staff costs are said to be responsible for 75% of the NHS budget. Cuts in staff and a culture of target chasing were said to be some main reasons for the Mid Staffordshire scandal.