In the United Kingdom we are repeatedly informed the NHS is there to care for us from cradle to grave, yet all we read about is the ‘alleged’ shortage of cash that the NHS suffers coupled with waiting times in A&E and admissions to wards. One has to ask why politicians have allowed what has become an ‘institution’, an institution of their own making, to be still treated by them all as a ‘sacred cow’.
At its inception it was never intended to cater for the patient numbers that now exist. Why those numbers exist today can basically be laid at the door of immigration together with the increased longevity of life, but, more importantly, also at the door of politicians who have done nothing to mitigate the situation in which the NHS now finds itself.
The political class have known for decades that people are living longer and that there would consequently be an increase in the call for use of NHS ‘services’. They have known for some time now that, due to the decisions of government, immigration was on the rise. Likewise they have known, due to their acceptance of the doctrine of ‘human rights’ that said immigrants would be bringing their families to join them. Politicians have known for some time that due to the decision of the Labour Governments over 13 years the PFI arrangements are crippling where the finances of the NHS are concerned.
Yet because of the ‘sacred cow’ element not one political party has made any realistic attempt to rectify what always has been – and continues to be – a growing problem. At its inception the NHS was intended to provide medical care free at point-of-need to all Britons, payable from taxation called National Insurance – note the word Britons? So how come immigrants and visitors to this land get free care at the point of need when they have paid little or no national insurance? Something else to blame for this country signing up to ‘human rights’?
Once it became known that there was a growing problem with health care in this country – and at this point the question has to be posed whether politicians are aware of what is not beyond the end of their nose, but I digress – it could be said that now they are having to cope with the meaning of life they are suffering an existential crisis. Had any thought been given to this growing problem then decades ago they should have thought about suggesting an insurance based health system; such as that that exists in Switzerland.
That this, no doubt, never crossed the minds of our politicians can only be due to three reasons: (a) they never thought of it, (b) they were consumed with the idea that the NHS was a ‘sacred cow’, or (c) they forgot they had created the grounds for the continuing existence of their ‘sacred cow’.
In respect of (c) did they not create the idea among their populace that the state would look after them no matter what problems they have? Did they not create the situation, whereby because of the preceding promise, they stopped people thinking for themselves and thus providing for themselves? Did they not hand out state benefits to people whether or not those people actually needed them?
Digressing slightly, but relative to the last point, I note that the Conservative manifesto is stating that a future Conservative government intends ceasing the annual winter fuel allowance to ‘rich’ pensioners which has created a tad of a furore among certain sections of our electorate and media. Is this not a tad like ‘shutting the door after the horse has bolted’? It could also be said that this idea is but ‘tinkering at the edges’ of a problem rather than fixing it.
It is also noted that the Conservative manifesto intends to see people expected to put the value of their property towards home care costs for the first time, with the state stepping in to pay when someone has less than £100,000 in assets. For those people of a ‘caring/thrifty’ nature, do they not attempt to build up a ‘nest-egg’ (be that money or property) in order to leave something for their children and family? Of course, had governments of yore ‘seen beyond their nose’ and introduced an insurance health-care system people’s ‘nest-eggs’ would not be subject to a ‘government-grab’.
Critics of ‘paying for health care’ invariably state that people shouldn’t have to make their health decisions on the basis of money; yet is that not what our government do? The case can be made that government is mostly not going to be deciding which treatments are effective; government is going to be deciding which treatments are cost-effective. Our existing system of health care hasn’t taken doctors out of the business of selling health care to patients; our government just inserted itself as a middleman. As a further aside, surely the Swiss system of health care must appeal to both the political left and right in that for the left it means universal coverage and a regulated insurance market; while for the right it means low government health spending and privately-managed health care. What one might term a win-win situation and one that would negate the bartering of political parties, each attempting to spend more public money than their opponents to preserve a sacred cow long past its slaughtering date.
On that last point it is not fair to only blame ‘government’ is it? Had we all taken more interest in the state of our nation and our own personal ‘state’, we would not be in the position in which we find ourselves – existing at the ‘largesse’ (the liberality in bestowing gifts, especially in a lofty or condescending manner) of the governments we elect. If one considers the phrase ‘cradle to grave’ it is not just our health service and benefits on which we are dependent upon government largesse as government controls virtually every aspect of our lives; a situation of our own making.
Looking at the forthcoming election there is one fact that appears to have escaped the notice of everyone. If politicians have given the British people the right to decide on membership of the European Union and in so doing publicly state they will honour that decision, then how come they do not feel able to carry out the same exercise for education, health care – or any other subject one cares to name.
Coupled with this, neither has the electorate grasped the idea that there is an alternative system of democracy in which they can make decisions and that politicians must then accept said decisions. That scenario is called direct democracy.