Your headline article “Can we afford our NHS” in the June issue of MT rang bells with me. Eleven years ago I was a Non-Executive Director of an NHS Trust. My co-director and I used to have long discussions with the Finance Director and the Medical Director of the trust about the affordability of the NHS.
The consensus from us all was that the NHS couldn’t be financially sustained in its current form, as the costs were too high. That was eleven years ago. With costs increasing every year either the general public and the government have to accept that taxes will have to increase significantly with the extra tax revenue ring-fenced for the NHS (which of course never happens), or services will have to be seriously curtailed.
I do not want to add to the debate on immigration being a burden on the NHS – we have had enough of that during the EU referendum debate (aka shouting match) – but the population is expanding and will not contract. People are living longer, more treatments and better techniques are being introduced and that all adds up to increased costs.
NHS England needs to bite the bullet and decide that some treatments just cannot be paid for on the NHS. I am thinking of the surge in IVF treatments, gastric bands and body enhancement surgery – this should all be paid for by the individual. It may be harsh but we cannot continue to rely on the NHS for everything.
All NHS Trusts need to become much more savvy when it comes to treating patients who turn up from overseas, obtain treatments (often ones they have deliberately come into Britain to obtain) and then disappear. You would not get away with that in the USA or Canada, so why here?
Michael Wilton-Cox by email