• Fri. Apr 12th, 2024

The NHS – Undervalued and Underfunded

ByRebecca Johns

Feb 10, 2023
A blue lanyard with NHS printed on it laying on a grey table

As Sunday morning comes around again, I call my dad to ask about his plans for the day. We laugh as soon as I ask, we both know the answer is another 24 hours of daytime TV and microwaveable meals. 

Repetitive routines like these reflect the reality for over 400,000 people currently waiting over 52 weeks for their knee operations on the NHS. COVID-19 and budget cuts have meant that simple leg injuries like this have spiralled into incapacitating disabilities. This can result in unemployment, isolation, and, more often than not, worsened mental health. 

His case is one of many. Across the NHS, many patients are failing to access support from their health service. The promise of world standard, free, British health care is becoming a thing of fairytales. 

This shortage of services is a repercussion of the ongoing budget cuts that have blighted the NHS since 2010. In real terms, the reductions this year are predicted to be in the region of £4 billion to £9.4 billion. 

This shocking figure might prompt some cynics to conclude that the Conservative Party doesn’t take their position as custodian of the NHS too seriously. Some may even argue that with the generous £9.2 billion spent on private contracts in 2019, the current government would welcome a complete collapse of the service in order to usher in a system of privatised health care. 

Regardless of whether the Tories have a stealth plan for privatisation, the underfunding of the NHS is still causing a divide between the nation, as increasing numbers of individuals seek health care from private sources. Unfortunately, this means that the poorest in society, often those most in need of medical care, are left with the bare bones of an underfunded NHS. 

It is crucial for the nation’s well-being that the government respond to pressure being put on them to divert more funds to the national health care service. Until this happens, the sick look to remain sick, and waiting lists are set to increase further and further as hospitals cancel another 80,000 appointments due to the ongoing strikes. 

While for many, the current crisis is a nuisance, for people waiting for treatment, for those who can’t afford pricy private alternatives, the future looks bleak. More than a fifth of adults struggling with their mental health report the empty promise of a 12-week wait for a likely online CBT therapy session leaves them feeling hopeless. 

For people in similar situations to my dad, overworked NHS staff, and others awaiting treatment, there is a desperate need for thoughtful restructuring of how government money is utilised. Only then can we create an efficient and healthy environment that takes care of staff and patients alike. 

Image “NHS ribbon, Badge Of Honour” is marked with CC0 1.0.