Over £142.7bn is estimated to be spent on the NHS in the financial year of 2017, an increase of £4bn in the 2016 budget. Yet the NHS is crying out for more and more money. Patients and staff are calling for more and more money. Why? To keep the NHS going, whether that is through private contracts or through national means.
Is the NHS really nationalised even if they use the private sector facilities? No, not really, but is it free to the point of access? Yes it is, because the NHS pays the bill. Thousands of patients are treated by the private sector, in 2014 that cost the NHS £6.5bn (or 6.1% of their budget). That may seem like a lot of money but we have to remember using the private sector is a money saving exercise.
The NHS has only so many specialised units, which are economically viable if they are frequently used, if not it is not financially worth keeping the facilities open. It becomes cheaper and more beneficial to the patients to use private facilities. The patient will receive better health care, at no extra cost to them. The NHS, however, does pick up the bill. What makes this so controversial is the fact that these private companies make a profit from this. Well isn’t that what the sector is all about, being able to make a profit to further invest in their businesses? What’s so criminal that people want to stop business expanding, employing more people, their employees paying tax and ultimately partly funding the NHS? Nothing is. The private service at the cost they charge will still be cheaper than the NHS owning it. Ultimately if it is free at the point of use, provides brilliant care, and saves the NHS money, so it can invest elsewhere, I don’t think we should complain about the silent privatisation of the NHS.
That however doesn’t mean we should sell off our hospitals willy nilly to try and save money. We need to sit down and think this through. Hospitals providing A&E care shouldn’t fall in to private hands, nor should minor injuries units or GPS. We need such vital services to be in national hands. Yes we can bring in private staff, if it’s cheaper and better, but as long as we aren’t reliant on them. Why? Because then private companies can hold the heath service to ransom and charge the government whatever it wants because there is no alternative.
Likewise what we are seeing at the moment is junior doctors holding the government to ransom with the new contract. Junior doctors are threatening to strike for a week for each of the following months. It is not only wrong they are holding such a valuable service to ransom, but that they are willing to put patients’ lives at risk to try and prove a point.
They chant ‘Save Our NHS, Save-Our-NHS…’ well the irony of that is they are actually planting the seed in peoples minds that the NHS doesn’t work and we need a replacement. What do look for?
A plan like Corbyn’s which promises more NHS, or a plan like Farage’s which promises a better service and more privatisation? Complete privatisation looks more and more appetising. The idea that the private sector strikes are rare and usually avoided, true or not, plays well for the argument for privatisation. Meaning, in retrospect, more available heath care. This is a very persuasive argument. The more people that die or are mistreated through these planned strikes, most likely won’t fall on the government but on the strikers. Public sympathy is not on their side anymore, which means they will fell the heat. Therefore the public will question the national contracts of these junior doctors.
Neither complete privatisation or nationalisation is what we need, nor is it what we want. What we need is a balancing act, half and half. This way they keep each other in check. The private sector keeps the national sector up to standards, as they are in fear of being privatised. The national sector keeps the private sectors’ standards high because why privatise when the nationalised sector are already so high. Take one away from the other and standards will fall. They keep each other in check; naturally. We don’t need the extremes of each side but a mix of the two. We, the public, also need to accept and realise that privatisation isn’t always a bad thing, it has actually saved our NHS and what keeps it going. Now we need to put this fighting between nationalisation and privatisation behind us. To build bridges, work together, and ‘save our NHS!’