Stop using the NHS as a political tool – no party is at fault
I am becoming a very annoyed at the NHS being used as a political whipping boy by people like Reg Vernon (Letters 9th Jan).
No party of any colour is responsible for the present state of the health service. It is not a political problem, but one of circumstance.
The predicament is caused by the vast increase in population since its inception and the great advances made in medicine in the last 50 years which has led to the amelioration of many diseases. This has led to a population living far longer than our predecessors manifestly increasing patient demand.
He also appears to be blaming the choice of vaccine on the government but he must know full well that deciding which vaccine to promote is always a calculated guess every year, and has proved to be the wrong decision many times in the past.
On one point I am in agreement with him. The building of new hospitals with a reduced number of beds is wrong and this is not a recent decision, but is a mistake made by all governments in recent years.
Also the closing of smaller local hospitals where the ‘bed blockers’ could be accommodated with a small number of staff thus enabling places in the larger units to be freed up.
As regards funding, Labour while in office for many years threw vast sums of money at the NHS which made no impact because at the same time they vastly increased ‘the management’ in health authorities.
In the early days of the NHS, a sister, an almoner and a handful of staff ran most hospitals efficiently whereas today management more often outnumber the frontline doctors and nurses doing the ‘real work’.
Funding is an important issue, but so is fiscal governance. Why are doctors issuing prescriptions for simple remedies which can be obtained for coppers at shop or supermarket? Why does not the NHS set up an overall central purchasing department whose clout could surely reduce costs by telling suppliers what they are prepared to pay for drugs and services? Why are there no experienced businessmen with commercial experience on the boards of health authorities?
Yes the NHS has many and varied problems and solutions will be difficult, but just continually throwing money at any problem is never the only way to resolve such dilemmas. It needs a lot of common sense and its practical application.