What is next for the NHS?

cost of health care. concept

This week at Point of Information, our editors answer the question, ‘what is next for the NHS’. This introduction will be small because the NHS needs no introduction. It is constantly in the news and repeatedly complained about, so therefore, let’s get straight into it and allow our editors to give you the next steps for the National Health Service.

Having cleaned up after Labour it is time for the Conservatives to take up the mantle and secure our NHS – by Conservatives

The National Health Service is a shinning jewel in the UK’s crown. Loved and envied around the world it is a beacon of compassion, love and care. Many who join the NHS see it as their vocation to do good and we must celebrate this. Yet many NHS worker’s faith has been shaken up; due to the financial crisis and the poor response of the Labour party the NHS has suffered many a set back. With the Conservative government having no choice but to enact austerity only a fool would argue that the NHS has struggled. Yet with austerity over, it is only the Tories who can keep the ship afloat.  

Before I start I must make the point that both major parties do not have great records with the NHS and they have both struggled in finding effective ways. However, the Conservative plan is well supported and by far the best approach. In March 2018 Matt Hancock announced that “£4.2 billion over three years to increase pay for our dedicated NHS workers.” Furthermore, the lowest starting salary in the NHS will rise to over “£18,000.” All of this equating as a pay rise for “around 1 million NHS staff of at least 6.5 per cent.” Tough choices such as enacting austerity led by the Conservatives have allowed the NHS to be put back on track with money being saved during these years.

It is under this Conservative government and the one before, that spending on the NHS has never been higher. In the long term plan for the NHS its budget will increase by “£394 million a week.” By 2023-2024 in real terms the NHS will be given “£20.5 billion” more than what it is receiving today allowing countless lives to be saved as well as providing better support for our wonderful NHS workers.

At the Conservative party conference, we have seen just how important the NHS is to the party’s vision for the UK with a further “£13 billion on what officials described as new hospitals; either with entirely new buildings or gutting existing structures to create state-of-the-art facilities.” It is this government who is now adding vital beds for those who need them. It is also this government who want to make faltering hospitals better and with “the largest sum that has ever been invested in the NHS,” it is only this party that can continue to allow the NHS to be successful.

My final point in why the Conservative party is best for the NHS is due to its increased funding of mental health. £2.3 billion has been committed to mental health and this will hopefully help contribute to ending the stigma around mental health which has plagued so many lives. The NHS has been through tough times and both parties have not helped, but like the great British spirit, it is how we move on and get better that what defines us. So how do we get better? It is simple, support the Conservative party who have made tough calls on our health system so that in the end it can be better. The Long term plan is in place, allow it to do its job.

Written by Conservative editor, Jack Kane.

Point of information

This article seems to think that throwing money at the NHS will fix the problem – a Liberal response

To me, Mr Kane’s article this week is highly contradictory. The solution that Mr Kane gives to fixing the NHS is to throw money at it, this is not a new idea and seems to be one that has been repeated before. It is not the answer.

The Conservatives have adopted a policy of cutting funds towards the NHS, this has seen a mixture of results. Some have been positive and others negative. Jermery Hunt’s polices for example, have been met with a somewhat negative response from the general public. However, granted he tried new policies and a new approach to fixing the problem. Nevertheless, Mr Kane has not done this. His policy is to just throw money at the NHS.

Unlike my article or Labour’s article which proposes new directions for the NHS to take, Mr Kane and the Conservatives fail to create anything new. This might be an attempt to win over voters by promising new funds to the NHS with an election looming. However, this does not fix any of the problems that the NHS faces and I am somewhat upset that this is the only proposal that Mr Kane offers. I hope that just like thinking £18,000 a year is a decent wage to have, I hope Mr Kane will re-think his policy.

Simply undoing Conservative austerity damage is not enough – a Labour response

Mr Kane talks about the failures of the Labour party as a way of justifying austerity, ten years of underfunding which has crippled the NHS. He claims that it was a necessary measure, but the fact is, austerity has damaged the NHS so badly, that dramatic spending increases are now necessary. In fact, after a decade of austerity measures, the NHS was underfunded by over £20 billion in comparison to similar countries like France, Germany, and Sweden. The Conservatives also cut social care funding by £4.5 billion, a decision which only placed more pressure on the NHS, as it had to deal with the outcome of neglected vulnerable people. Mr Kane should accept that the current mess is a result of Conservative policies, and a disregard of what are the real priorities. 

He craves congratulations that the Conservatives have now pledged to spend more on the NHS, but it is his own party’s actions which have starved the service and brought it to its knees. Of course it is encouraging that the party have announced £2.7 billion for hospital rebuilds, but without providing a commitment to overall NHS infrastructure spending, it is impossible to know if the pledge will simply focus on resolving the current backlog of maintenance which has been ignored for years, or whether it will improve the overall conditions. Currently this ambiguity could mean that many areas and hospitals are left behind.  

Finally, as I keep mentioning, Social Care needs to be a priority. The Conservatives have enacted devastating cuts on the sector in the past, and they are no closer to proposing practical ways of improving social care. There was a vague statement claiming that they will fix social care from the Prime Minister, but it is Labour that is leading the way with a plan for the sector. Empty words will not fix the NHS. 

For the nhs to be fixed, party politics need to be put to the side and a long term plan put in place – by liberals

The NHS needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. Politicians are scared to accept this simple truth. Even Jacob Reese-Mogg was afraid to say at a recent talk I attended which he presented, ‘the NHS is broken and it needs to be fixed.’

Everyone knows it is broken but no one wants to change it. It has fallen behind almost every other first world country. When the UK cancer survival rate is assessed, ‘the UK continues to lag behind’. In fact, England only stands above one first world country for most cancer survival rates… Ireland.

Firstly, we need to accept that the NHS is a business, we need to treat it as such. Countries on the continent already do this; some being very similar to the NHS and some operating very differently but all are free. Germany interestingly offers insurance to all its citizens, keeping private hospitals and insurances, which draws interesting comparisons to Obamacare without Republican restrictions. The NHS, whether you like to admit it, is a business.

If you agree the NHS is a business, the next step is not a wild idea – let it act as one. The UK government leans heavily upon beaucracy when dealing with the NHS, which creates multiple layers, checks and other’s involvement, making the process of simply ordering a prescription a weeks long process.

New medical technology can take a minimum of four years to be implemented. This is technology that can save lives and not being put into place purely due to the chaos through the NHS with bureaucrats being involved in a business that usually they themselves do not understand how it works. This adds to the paperwork for nurses and doctors that is unnecessary such as ‘scrutinising teams travel claims’ and making sure teams have completed ‘hand washing courses’. The NHS have an ‘obsession with activity data and [should] focus on empowering healthcare professionals to deliver good care for patients.

France’s healthcare is a good example of this. Their whole healthcare system is built on one single level tier, allowing for efficiency and allowing it to be cost effective.

Secondly, private ownership of hospitals should be embraced. The idea is simple, we give contracts to private companies to build and maintain a hospital. The NHS then rents out the hospital with their doctors and nurses and equipment. The hospital is then mainly an NHS one, but just under private ownership. However, there is a private section for those willing to pay for the slightly nicer accommodation. Through this, the private healthcare companies then rent the equipment from the NHS, making the NHS money. The National Health Service absorbs so much money, it would be nice if it could make some other than from health tourism.

Norwich hospital is widely considered one of the best hospitals in the country, which is just around the corner from my family home. I am incredibly lucky, but the reason why it is so efficient, well maintained and cheap compared to other hospitals is due to the policy I talked about in the previous paragraph.

Actually, although the NHS takes up 9% GDP, it’s cost per capita (per person) is low compared to the rest of the continent – $4,246 compared to Germany’s $5,728. The NHS fails due to it’s lack of efficiency. Removing beaucracy, combining the trustees around the country to operate as one and allowing hospitals to be privately owned will not only reduce the cost but make the NHS improve drastically.

If you read my title, you see my title says we need to remove party politics when fixing the NHS. If we are to change the NHS this drastically and actually fix it, a five year plan is not long enough. There needs to be cross-party agreement on the future plan to update the NHS, and once the parties agree this plan, the NHS can actually start to heal instead of throwing an imaginary £350 million into it.

By Liberal editor Max Anderson

Point of information

Social care can no longer be ‘run as a business’ – a Labour response

Mr Anderson’s assertion that cross-party agreement is necessary to fix the NHS is refreshing to hear. In a time of division, we need to avoid retreating into our polarised party positions, in order to create an NHS plan which is viable, and outlives changes of Government. 

I agree with his criticism of the bureaucratic nature of the NHS, much time and money is wasted, resulting in a lower standard of care. As I argued in my article, a restructuring is necessary in order to render the NHS more effective in its caregiving. Mr Anderson has strongly argued for greater privatisation, something that I am nervous about. Of course there is a role for the private sector – it does offer choice to those who can afford it, but it shouldn’t result in a lower standard of care for those who cannot. 

Mr Anderson has not discussed the role of private companies in social care, but as I have outlined in my proposition, privatisation has only been a destructive force, resulting in the neglect of many vulnerable people, which in turn weighs heavy on the NHS. The impact of running social care ‘like a business’ has been low standards of care, underqualified staff and substandard support of the vulnerable. Before Mr Anderson hails the efficacy and benefits of privatisation, he should also consider the inappropriate nature of incorporating the private sector in social care. What is necessary is a unified, consistent, and human touch, not a company looking to cut costs wherever possible.

Mr Anderson’s claims gets him in trouble again – a Conservative response

“It has fallen behind almost every other first world country.” This is what Mr Anderson writes very early on in his article and I can not allow this to go undisputed due to its falsity. “the UK is among the best health systems in the world at protecting those who cannot afford to get ill.” This report on the 70th anniversary of the NHS completely disputes Mr Andersons claim.

The NHS actually spends less on “administrative costs and managers to plan and oversee more frontline care than most other countries, ranking alongside Portugal and Ireland as devoting 1.5 per cent of health spending on organisational expenses.” Furthermore “this compared to an average of 3.1 per cent, 4.1 per cent in France and 7.9 per cent in the US.” To say that the NHS has fallen behind every other first world country is simply wrong.

 What also disputes Mr Anderson’s claim is that “just 2.3 per cent of Britons in 2016 had skipped medications because of costs, compared to an average of 7.2 per cent.” This is a sign of a strong health service. Yet Mr Anderson only argument that the NHS is in crisis is with one example about cancer survival rates. Though this is concerning Mr Anderson completely disputes any other examples which is not the way to go.

Finally, Mr Anderson hinders a very interesting article with a jab at the Brexit campaign and therefore, the Conservatives. The Conservatives have saved the NHS from the destruction the Labour party had caused. The Conservative party is giving records amount of money to the NHS and Mr Anderson need to notice that.

The NHS is struggling to breathe, and the Conservatives want to remove the oxygen mask – by labour

The NHS, is one of the few aspects of British society that I believe sets us apart from other nations… and I have a resounding sense of satisfaction that it was the Labour party who built this institution in 1946. It was also the Labour party who revived the NHS in 1997, after it was almost driven into the ground by successive Conservative governments. The creation of the NHS established the premise that we should all benefit from care, regardless of age, social background, wealth, or race – the attempts to privatise risk destroying this right.

The Labour plan for the NHS looks to restructure the current system, in order to provide more effective care in areas it lacks – mental health and social care – whilst also reducing the outsourcing of care to private firms, which are driven by profit rather than being patient-centred. 

Labour supports radical changes to the status-quo, proposing the creation of a National Care Service and the repeal of the disastrous Health and Social Care Act. It is clear that the social care sector has reached a breaking point in the UK, as a result of billions of pounds worth of cuts by the Conservative government. This means that the older generations have been left stranded with enormous care bills to foot, that the majority simply cannot afford. This, combined with the poor quality of care provided, is a strain on the NHS. 

By establishing a National Care Service for England, as well as ensuring greater funding for care services, we can reduce the neglect of our vulnerable citizens, and in turn prevent many cases in which such people end up in NHS hospital beds. Funding should be allocated to a State service, rather than being pumped into private care providers – it’s a question of efficacy and quality of care. 

It is also important to rethink our approach to mental health services, focusing on early intervention to reduce later problems. The taboo of mental health is slowly being broken down, with greater public discussion of the subject, in fact it is well known that one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health issue each year. As such, we need to adapt the NHS to cater to the needs of those who are mentally ill.

A ring-fencing of mental health funding is essential, as well as a focus on providing local support – it is a scandal that so many young people are sent to mental health wards miles away from their families. This is not an effective way of combating mental illness, the government ought to ensure access to counselling in schools as a means of early intervention. It is equally necessary to strengthen services for the LGBGT+ and BAME communities, which have been hit hardest by cuts.

Finally, following Brexit, both I and the Labour party conclude that the current model of medical training needs to change. Firstly, a re-introduction of funding and bursaries for health-related degrees and training is a must – it is shocking to think that currently, nursing students are required to work for an extra month compared to other university students, with no increase of student loan or extra funding. These are the nurses of tomorrow who will be holding our NHS together, yet they are financially punished during and after their studies.

Secondly, ensuring the continuation of training and development during the career of health professionals is the only way to heighten our care standards, improving the experiences of patients.

Finally, in the case of Brexit coming into effect, we must make sure that EU staff have their rights guaranteed. 5% of NHS staff are from the EU, and are essential to the smooth running of the system; letting Brexit politics get in the way of that would be shameful, especially after the very public lie claiming to improve the NHS and its funding in the case of Brexit… 

Without prioritising the areas that I have outlined, the future of the NHS could be at risk. The improvements and restructures that I have proposed are aimed at preventing greater health damages, brought about by neglect of the vulnerable, or poor mental health support. These areas desperately require greater funding, and will only help ease the strain on other areas of the NHS – emergency care in particular. Privatisation is not the way forward.

Written by Labour editor, Isabella Jewell

Point of information

Great points focusing on the right issues, however, Miss Jewell has missed a key step – a Liberal response

The article that Miss Jewell has written is a strong and sensible piece. Although I do not agree with the problems she has raised are the first things that the government should fix, they are certainly issues that the government need to address in the near future.

Her discussion about fixing social care for our older generations is something that desperately needs to be fixed, as well as Britain’s attitude to mental health and I applaud her for noting this in her article. However, as a typical neoliberal I would ask Miss Jewell to proceed with caution with eccentric view to increasing spending towards the NHS.

I want to focus on Miss Jewell’s beliefs towards mental health. I praise her for wanting to focus on this issue as much as she has. In my article, I fail address this vital topic, but only because I thought other issues at this time are more pressing, therefore, I am extremely glad to see Miss Jewell and the Labour party living up to their namesake and focusing on this issue.

Compared to other countries, Britain is rather backwards in their approach to mental health. America, is by far the most accepting society when it comes to approaching this delicate subject. The US does not have a better health care system than the UK but certainly addresses the mental health services a lot better than we do.

This being said, the NHS is not in a position to currently deal with mental health. It is so inefficient that it cannot spend the correct amount of time sorting the issue. The NHS needs a ground up reconstruction to be able to offer the correct support for mental health departments. It is great saying that mental health needs to be improved, as so it should, however, at the moment we as a nation do not have the ability to do so. Once Liberal plans are implemented and fix the NHS then more time can be spent fixing this pressing issue.

Nothing new from ill Labour – a Conservative response

“It is clear that the social care sector has reached a breaking point in the UK, as a result of billions of pounds’ worth of cuts by the Conservative government.” When I read this I knew what I was getting in for. This would be a classic Labour response screaming that its all the Conservatives are at fault. I dispute this and will make my case.

In reference to her quote, she forgets that it was her government that punished our economy causing the heavy strain on our social services. The tough and necessary choices by the Conservative government were needed due to Labour’s horrendous spending. Miss Jewell writes that “ensuring greater funding for care services, we can reduce the neglect of our vulnerable citizens.” This is what the Conservative party are doing having dealt with the catastrophe left by Labour. The long term plan clearly states this.

 Miss Jewell makes the point about the £350 million on the side of the Brexit red bus and how this is a public lie. The money we give to the EU actually equates to over £100 million so to say none of that will go to our NHS is simply not true,

I am however, happy that Miss Jewell and I shares the same view on mental health and thankfully the Conservatives have committed 2.3 billion pounds to mental health. The Conservatives are increasing the money spent on this issue and we hope that this will help contribute to ending the taboo about mental health.

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