Right wing politicians in the USA have been knocking our NHS system and predictably, our own political leaders have been very vocal in, rather hastily, jumping to it’s defence.
While it is admirable for them to do so, a cynic might focus on the fact that almost 1.4 million people are employed by the NHS and they will represent a considerable number of votes when the next general election takes place.
Few can deny, the NHS is a fantastic part of the UK’s foundation and most of us are grateful for the right of access to what we are told is free medical treatment. However, what we often forget is that it is not really free at all and it is certainly not a perfect system. We all pay for our treatment through our taxes and National Insurance.
The NHS is a system that has, like government, grown to be an unwieldy and ever costly organisation that is open to abuse and wastage.
Treatment is not consistent throughout the UK and it is often misused by ‘medical tourists’ from abroad.
The costs of administering the NHS are massive and it probably has more managers and admin staff than those in the front line medical areas.
While the government keep reminding us that the waiting times for treatment have gone down over recent years, operating theatres are still not used to their maximum potential and are sometimes left ‘on standby’ for at least one day a week because the surgeons do not want to work on those days.
Hospital consultants are often at odds with their local management about basic working procedures and frequently try to resist attempts to introduce more efficient working methods.
In short, it is far from being a perfect system and has, over the years, naturally become a political football between the parties.
It is an organisation made up of ‘the haves’ and the ‘have nots’. Some make a very comfortable living from working for the NHS while to many, it has to be thought of as more of a vocation, with long hours and a poor financial reward.
What would really help at this time, is if our politicians would pause for thought and consider some of the criticism before they go into ‘auto pilot’ in creating sound bites that defend a system of which they personally have little experience.
After all, when was the last time our political leaders chose a night waiting for treatment in the local casualty department over using the benefits of their private health insurance?
Most of the rest of us live with the real life flaws of an NHS we would never want to lose but we pray will keep getting better and better!