As the debate continues on the future of the National Health Service, and the services that patients need under the NHS, the issue of funding has been centre in that debate.
As the debate continues on the future of the National Health Service, and the services that patients need under the NHS, the issue of funding has been centre in that debate. That debate increased on 7 July when a group of health organisations expressed concern regarding the future of the funding structure.
In a letter to The Times, officials from organisations including the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Royal College of Physicians said the NHS was ‘cracking at the seams’ and the Service would need to start charging patients if taxes are not raised or major cuts are made.
‘Long term reply’
According to a report in The Independent, the organisations called for a national conversation on healthcare and social care.
“We can all celebrate the success of rising life expectation,” the letter read. “Yet because most of us are living longer, the next 50 years will see a growth of at least two and a half times as many people suffering from multiple problems. Unless action is taken, by 2020 maintaining the current level of service provision will require an additional £30 billion for just the NHS — which is as much as we spend each year on defence.”
The organisations added there was an equivalent budget crisis in social care and housing, and the status quo would not do.
“Resources and vigorous service reform must go hand-in-hand. Business as usual won’t do,” the letter read. “However, the longer-term response to this unprecedented financial challenge needs an honest, open dialogue between politicians and citizens. We need a new settlement; a fundamental, holistic agreement with the country on what health and social care should be, how and where it is delivered to maximise the quality of care, and how it should be paid for.”
A ComRes poll cited by the paper indicates that 63 per cent of people believe the NHS does not have enough money. 5 per cent of voters believe the NHS has improved, while 37 per cent of voters believe the NHS has worsened, the poll adds. A protest by the 999 March for the NHS on the subject is due to be held in August.
Reached by telephone, a spokesperson for the British Medical Association, which did not sign the letter that was published, said the Association believed in an NHS that was free of access to anyone who needed to use it, and that the issue of funding was something that needed to be addressed by the government.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health, in an e-mail to Kettle, said the NHS would remain free at the point of use.
A telephone message left for a spokesperson for the NHS Confederation seeking comment was not immediately returned.
This is a debate that will likely continue to, and be at the centre of, debate at the Commons as well as the general election, due in May, with many advocating for the NHS and the hope that it will be able to serve the essential role it has for all the people.
What do you think about the debate around the NHS? Have your say in the comments section below.
Image: Smifis / Wikimedia Commons