Don’t be fooled by anti-NHS myths – paying more tax makes sense

The NHS: A cumbersome, bureaucratic, money-eating monster that would trip over its own feet no matter how much money was pumped into it?

It’s a narrative that has unfortunately gotten some traction in Britain. You will hear it frequently from think tanks, commentators and some politicians. Most of them are right-wing, but not all. Unfortunately, the idea that the NHS is too big to handle and too expensive to pay has seeped into parts of the public consciousness.

Nevertheless, the argument is rotten. The empty heads touting it aren’t quite on the level of those who deny the harsh reality of climate change or spew anti-vax pitch conspiracy theories – like how life-saving Covid vaccines were a plot by Bill Gates to get nanotech microchips into our arms – but they’re swimming in the same fetid swamp.

The truth is that the NHS is doing a great job providing mass health care. If we were willing to pay what he needs to uphold his founding principles – and we should be – his critics’ cynical front line would spit blood by the wayside. Anyone need a free ambulance?

One of their favorite ploys is to shine a light on inefficiency and waste, based on specific incidents that find their way into the media. But here’s the thing: you can always find something in any large organization. This even includes hyper-efficient tech companies like Gates’ baby Microsoft. Learn about Zune.

Seen in turn, however, the NHS is doing just fine. Sajid Javid, no one has the idea of ​​a spendthrift pinko, noted in a speech in March – when he was health secretary – that administrative costs amounted to just 2p for every pound spent compared to 5p in Germany and 6 pence in France. It is an effective health service. Score one for Nye Bevan’s baby when compared to alternative insurance-based models.

Let’s move on to the “bottomless pit” argument. In 2019, this country spent 9.9% of its GDP on health care, roughly what it was in 2011, slightly above the world average, but lower than comparable countries, such as France and Germany.

However, since the creation of the NHS, the UK population has grown and is aging rapidly. The technology that has allowed us to treat and sometimes cure conditions that might once have been a death sentence has also advanced. To cope, health spending had to increase. Historically, according to the King’s Fund, an independent health think tank, it has done so at around 4% in real terms, fueled by the proceeds of economic growth. And rightly so: do we really want to emulate America where people are dying unnecessarily for lack of care?

However, in the decade following the 2008 financial crisis, the Conservative government hit the NHS in the gut with the most prolonged spending cut in its history. Between 2009/10 and 2018/19, spending grew on average by just 1.5% per year.

Some more money has recently been made available. Spending was expected to increase further to help the service cope with the consequences of Covid. But not at the level of its long-term average. And the extra money needed was supposed to come from the health and social care tax that short-lived Prime Minister Liz Truss cut. It is the only part of his plans to destroy the economy that new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has failed to reverse.

The spending cuts the NHS has suffered has had a significant impact, not just in terms of waiting lists or canceled appointments – Diabetes UK, for example, reports that only 36% of people with type one and/or or type two in England received all of their recommended care checks in 2020-21.

For as long as I can remember, people have warned of the threat of a “two-tier” system. It’s here. Earlier this year, the Institute for Research on Public Policy reported that “the long-term decline in NHS access and quality, rapidly accelerated by the pandemic, has begun to accelerate people’s tendency to opt for health care and private products”.

The State of Health and Care compilers commissioned a poll, which found that 31% of respondents had struggled to access NHS services during the pandemic. About 12% had used private health care, the equivalent of about 2 million people.

Private physiotherapists offering rapid access to treatment for those who need it, and more than the standard six sessions for those who can pay, can easily be found on the high street. Mental health support – almost impossible to access through the NHS – is another popular private choice.

These services can be quite expensive unless you have private insurance. This too has become more popular. The problem is that insurers are only interested in healthy people. Uh. Unsurprisingly, the IPPR found that ‘add-ons’ were most common in London and among the wealthiest socio-economic groups. Of course they were.

Proponents of private health care will wonder what the problem is. This frees up resources for others. Except they’re not there. Those who are unable to access it have no choice but to suffer in silence.

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This shouldn’t be necessary. It wouldn’t be necessary if politicians were honest with people about what it would cost to properly fund the NHS in terms of taxation, and if they were willing to argue for increased spending. Neither major party is outspoken with voters here, nor are they willing to advocate for better tax funding.

The irony is that it was Boris Johnson, perhaps the most lying prime minister in history, and his chancellor, Rishi Sunak, who came closest to their levy.

I was dubious when it was announced. I felt the timing, with the economy just coming out of Covid, was sub-optimal. But the idea was good, and I admit that I should have argued more strongly for it. Polls have repeatedly suggested that people would favor paying more tax for a better NHS. And why not? It makes sense. The NHS offers excellent value for money. We can fund it to enable it to provide the services people need, where they need them, for free. And we should.

Not to stress this too much, but one of the main reasons for the labor shortage that employers always complain about is a sharp increase in long-term illnesses. So there are strong economic arguments for improving the health of British workers, independent of the moral argument. It is beyond reproach.

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