As Parliamentary recess finally begins and the Prime Minister turns to the Swiss, alpine air to clear her head, we can be sure of one thing: Brexit will define her final years as leader of Great Britain.
As a result of this, many burning domestic issues, particularly with a minority government in the House of Commons, will have to be put on the back burner. In the short term, it is arguable that this is essential, so that the best Brexit can be secured and the foundations for a stronger economy can be placed. In the long run however, it is clear that May’s successor will face immense challenges.
One of which, will be the future of the NHS.
It goes without saying that there is need for great reform. Yet, the problem is just that. No one is saying so. Over the decades, a growing rigidity has crusted around mainstream politics with regards to discussing our national health service. A mix of irrationality, ideology and pride has led to a complete dead-end to any talks of improving the NHS. We are at a crossroads in which the path to debate and change is now blockaded by the self-perceived morally superior. As far as this cohort is concerned, unless you’re promising increased public spending, there is nothing to discuss and to question the sustainability of the NHS is to question your own morals.
This frustrating conflict has only been exacerbated by the Prime Minister’s decision to unlock a billion pounds for what seems an unnecessary DUP confidence and supply agreement.
So where does that leave us? Currently, at square one. Without the will to talk about making the NHS more efficient, there is no path to change. This is particularly tragic when there is so much to improve.
For those who claim, a clenched fist raised in the air, that our NHS is in some way extraordinary, they are under a remarkable illusion. The living disproof of this belief is the fact that no other developed nation has sought to emulate the British healthcare system. There is simply no modernised economy, on any continent, that runs a completely centralised healthcare service, like ours. Not one.
This probably has something to do with the fact that the NHS is consistently ranked as one of the most inefficient healthcare systems in the world. It’s also more than likely down to the NHS having some of the lowest cancer survival rates on record (we are second only to Bulgaria for the worst five-year lung cancer survival rate and are a decade behind the rest of Europe when it comes to beating breast cancer, as of this year). Who would want to emulate that?
Of course, it is easy to make the argument that more money is the answer to all the problems of the NHS – but money can only get you so far. It does not solve financial wastage nor general inefficiency and it certainly does not eradicate avoidable deaths that come from negligence (the Shrewsbury and Telford trust has recently been put under investigation due to its high number of avoidable infantile deaths).
The NHS has never been free. We all know this. As with any nationalised public service, it has merely provided one of the many motives for government to keep taxes raised beyond a certain percentage. To those who argue they are willing to have more of their own money taken from them by the state to pay for such struggling services, now it is time they asked themselves one more question. Are they willing to sacrifice human life for the sake of the NHS’ unaltered existence?
The reality has never been starker. What’s needed is a radical reform of our national health service that has served us for decades but can serve us no more, in its current state.
To recognise that a system needs change does not make one malicious. It is only the right thing to do. In 2017 however, Britain suffers from a deep root rot within its society; one that chokes any manoeuvres to implement beneficial change to our health service and improve the livelihoods of its men, women and children. For the time being, as a weak Conservative government has its hands full with Brexit and fails to make the rightful case for Capitalism, this much needed debate won’t take place.
In the near future, for Britain’s sake, let’s hope it does.