As I said in my previous post on the shortage of beds in NHS hospitals, it is no secret that our healthcare system is struggling, and with the winter fast approaching, it seems that the situation is only going to worsen. Despite the Department of Health insisting that “the NHS has prepared for winter more this year than ever before”, hospital chiefs are still warning that the worst is yet to come, and are calling for an extra £200-350 million of funding to be made immediately available. This is necessary, they say, to pay for extra staff and beds to cover the expected strain on the NHS over the winter.
In addition to this, Professor Ted Baker, the recently appointed new chief inspector of hospitals in England has stated that the NHS is not fit for 21st Century England. He pointed out that there has been a major shift in the population structure of the country since the 1960s and 70s, yet the same model of care is still being implemented over 50 years later. Almost ironically, despite being founded on a profession which is constantly evolving, the NHS itself has failed to change and adapt to keep up with the rest of the country. Prof Baker believes that the initial mistake was a lack of historical investment; money was coming in 15-20 years ago, but it was not spent on the right things, such as transformation of the model of care.
With concerns about both the short term and long term future of the NHS, Prof Baker has said “capacity is being squeezed all the time […] there comes a point at which the capacity isn’t there”. NHS Providers have agreed that without an emergency cash bailout, the NHS is going to face the worst winter in its history.
As an aspiring doctor, I find it very worrying that the NHS is in decline; it has been considered by many to be the greatest healthcare system in the world, offering healthcare to all, free at the point of delivery, yet it seems like this may not be the case for much longer. Sadly, privatisation and charging for treatment may become much more common in the future, although this is likely to only result in greater fragmentation of the service.
Thanks for reading!