It’s easy to dismiss calls to properly fund the NHS, assuming that talk of ‘crisis’ is meaningless and assuming we don’t have the money. But crisis means not being able to go to A&E when you’re in an emergency, because it’s shut, or an ambulance taking valuable extra time to go to an A&E further away, with the consequence that you might not get to the operating theatre on time and might die because the closer A&E was shut. It means really long waiting times. It means being on a trolley for hours because they have no beds, and even dying on the trolley. It means waiting ages for an operation and possibly being in extreme pain or discomfort until it happens.
It’s easy to dismiss problems when they don’t affect you, but they will, when you need the NHS and it’s not there. How do we fund it? Well how did we fund Trident? Did anyone ask where the money was coming from for that? No! Because it was seen as essential, so the government was left to find the money itself. It should be the same for the NHS. Maybe the government needs to reverse its corporation tax cuts, or increase income tax, or borrow to invest in capital for social care or the NHS to reduce NHS running costs. But the important thing is that NHS funding is so essential that it has to be provided. It’s not dependent on how the government finds the money, but it must find the money. Just as it did for Trident.
May said absolutely nothing about how she’s going to solve the NHS crisis, though she used a lot of words to say nothing, apart from that she wants a ‘long-term solution‘. If that isn’t more funding, and since she somehow claims it’s already getting more funding, but clearly it needs still more, does that mean May just admitted to running down the NHS so she can privatize it?
It’s no surprise the Tories won’t fund the NHS properly, they want everything to be driven by the free market and the NHS is not. Gove tried to privatise education, to an extent, and look at how well that went! Yes it smacks of socialism, but healthcare and education should be provided free at the point of use, designed for people’s needs, not dependent on how much money they have. No need to fragment the NHS with more internal market forces, just pay the doctors and nurses and all the other NHS workers to do their jobs. It worked for Norway with education (The Economist, 2013: page 4), they haven’t changed their state system for decades but trusting teachers has paid off for them – they’re one of the top in the PISA educational world rankings. The NHS will cost a lot, May is right on that, we have an aging population and we’re not investing in social care, so costs will massively increase, but we’ve got to pay it! Otherwise A&Es will be shut when we so desperately need them.