What is going on in the NHS Feb 2017 .pdf
Original filename: What is going on in the NHS Feb 2017.pdf
Author: Joe Davidson
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What is going on in the NHS?
- The British Red Cross announced in January 2017 that the NHS is facing a “humanitarian
crisis” this winter. This is because hospitals and ambulance services are struggling to keep
up with patient demand. A third of hospital trusts have issued warnings to say that they
cannot cope with demand and some struggling hospitals have been forced to cancel
Who is to blame?
- One key reason why the NHS is facing this crisis is because of underfunding from the
Conservative government. According to Aditya Chakrabortty, “the NHS is enduring the
sharpest and most prolonged spending squeeze in its history”. This is because overall
spending on the NHS is not increasing fast enough to meet demand. Spending needs to
increase by 3-4% annually – but Tory austerity means that the increase is much lower
- Johnathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said: “It's time Theresa May
urgently faced up to her responsibilities and abandoned her policy of systematically
underfunding our NHS.”
- More generally, recent Conservative policies, such as the Health and Social Care Act 2012,
have allowed for increased privatisation of the NHS. “Market forces and privatisation”, as
Dr Youssef El-Gingihy states, “are siphoning tens of billions out of the NHS budget as
corporate profits”. This money is not reinvested in the health service and, consequently,
the ability of the NHS to deal with increased patient demand is hit.
Why is the Government Blaming Migrants for the Crisis?
- The Tories have announced a number of plans in recent months that are designed to
tackle so-called “health tourism”. These plans include making migrant patients pay for
care before they receive treatment and forcing all patients to show passports to access
- Labour’s Johnathan Ashworth castigated the passports proposal, saying: “For those
eligible the principle of the NHS free at the point of use must never be compromised.”
There are concerns that such proposals will deter vulnerable people from accessing
- Some also see these Tory announcements as a means to distract people from the real
causes of the crisis in the NHS. For example, “health tourism” is responsible for only 0.3%
of NHS spending. Dr Rachel Clarke compares Theresa May to Donald Trump in this regard:
“Whipping up anti-immigrant feeling to divert attention from the crisis state of our NHS is
like accusing “bad hombres” and Muslims of ruining America – this is cynical, sinister
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