I like the National Health Service (NHS). I like knowing that my healthcare is free at the point of use. That means I really do not like to impending danger of the UK losing the NHS. We in the UK are likely to lose the NHS to steady erosion. And those who constantly bicker and complain about the NHS permit this erosion.
The NHS loses its political clout as people complain about it. It is an expensive luxury, and every time a journalist hooks a story about a “postcode lottery” for treatment, or a person dying in hospital of treatable illnesses the government sees an opportunity to fund it a little less. But these symptoms are of a finite industry. And I think France and Germany should inspire how we show that finite resource to the British public.
First, as an aside, I want to share two anecdotes that represent common occurrences in hospitals: buzz word drugs and attention seeking bed space. Certain symptoms need certain medication. I assume that is not a surprise. The problem is that some of these symptoms are difficult to objective diagnose and are based on qualitative input from the patient. This system means that some people (who want to score drugs) can cheat this system and get drugs. It happens often. Another thing that happens in hospitals is that bed space is taken up by people with personality disorders. These are people who make a lot of drama about things. These people have also learned buzz words to keep them in beds, as well as a few tricks about what to do with their IVs to infect them. The reason this matters is because it costs £1,000 to keep 1 person in 1 bed for 1 day. This cost is to cover staffing and services to the bed.
What Germany and France do is offer appropriate treatment. The appropriate treatment costs their health service a certain amount (call it £AT). If the patient opts for some other treatment which costs more (£OT), they have to pay the difference. The difference between £AT and £OT can range in at £10s of thousands. That’s important, because in France and Germany when a person wants other treatments they are faced with the bill. If we did that in the UK, we might start to realise that opting for some fad treatment is asking the government to give you thousands of pounds. Surplus healthcare should cost money.
Some things simply shouldn’t be offered on the NHS. There are cosmetic issues that can be crippling to a person’s life and I understand that. But the vetting between a cosmetic issue and something which is actually crippling a person’s lifestyle should be harsher. Is a breast reduction really a medical concern that the rest of society should pay for? Should it be taking up our hospital beds and take a place of waiting lists? Is a gastric band the best solution? Or should someone who cares that much just start eating healthily? Should they not be made to invest in a life coach or research what it means to be healthy? There are things that pass through the NHS that, as a taxpayer, I am funding. And I simply don’t believe it is cost-effective or morally defensible to pay for non-medical procedures or to bend to vain whims of a self-entitled society.
I have another idea. But this is social reform. I think it should be considered socially unacceptable for the very rich to not have health insurance. I do not think there should be a law, that would mean the government getting too involved in our business, but as a generally accepted social duty, one who can afford to remove themselves from the strain on the NHS should.