Thursday, 28 March 2013

End of the National Health Service?

At the Royal Society of Arts, LBC Radio broadcast a live debate on whether this is, 'the end of the NHS as we know it'. 

Jon Danzig was first to ask a question.

● Jon Danzig asks about the NHS - click to listen (1 min 26 seconds)

The full debate: 'Is this the end of the NHS as we know it?'  (52 minutes) 
● See also'Are politicians committed to the NHS?'
● Useful link: 'A Guide to the Health and Social Care Act'
● The Independent newspaper: 'Farewell to the NHS..'
See also:


  1. Step 1.
    Stop treating anyone on the NHS whose parents were not born in the UK unless they pay in advance.
    Stabilise and export if not.
    Bill their home countries for re-patriation costs or cut ties.
    Alternatively, bill the medical costs to anyone who objects to this method. Let objectors fund such patients themselves. Lets see who really cares about NHS scroungers, via their wallet/purse.

  2. It is disingenuous to blame ‘foreigners’ for the downfall of the NHS. Immigrant health care professionals from across the world helped to build our NHS and continue to provide crucial support. There was an acute post-war shortage of medical staff in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and we urgently needed doctors from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to come and work for the NHS.

    Today, 30% of NHS health workers were born overseas. In London, almost half of NHS nurses were born outside the UK. We rely on these foreign born professionals. Without them, the NHS would come to a standstill.

    I agree that people who are not entitled to NHS free care should pay for it, and this needs to be more stringently enforced. But to deny NHS care to legitimate foreign residents and workers here would be crude and racist. In any event, the cost of providing NHS treatment to foreign nationals is relatively small. For example, Government estimates of the un-recouped cost of providing medical treatment for migrants from the European Economic Area come to between £20m to £200m – less than 2% of the NHS annual budget of £100 billion.

    Only a small minority of visitors deliberately seek to enter the United Kingdom to access NHS services without payment. Under existing regulations, the NHS is entitled to charge foreign visitors not ordinarily resident in the UK for the cost of healthcare, with the exception of accidents and emergencies. We already have an NHS Counter Fraud Service responsible for investigating, detecting and preventing fraud. There is no reason that the cost of providing care to foreign visitors should be a threat to the NHS if existing regulations were efficiently administered.

    Furthermore, UK nationals are entitled to free health care when they travel, work or study in other European Economic Area countries, thanks to the free European Union Health Insurance Card. It works both ways.

    Let’s not scapegoat ‘foreigners’ for the problems in the NHS. Foreign born health-care professionals provide an essential service to the NHS. And whilst the unrecovered cost of free NHS care to those not entitled to it is a problem, the cost is relatively modest, and there are already regulations in place to recoup those costs.

    1. Correction. Above I wrote: “For example, Government estimates of the un-recouped cost of providing medical treatment for migrants from the European Economic Area come to between £20m to £200m – less than 2% of the NHS annual budget of £100 billion.”

      I cannot find any verification of the “estimates” of between £20m to £200m lost to the NHS in this way. However, when an answer was given to the House of Commons by Health Minister, Anne Milton, it was revealed that the audited losses to the NHS for these costs came to just less than £7 million in 2009-10. That’s a tiny fraction of 1% of the NHS annual budget.

      Hansard source:

      FullFact investigation: “Is 'health tourism' costing the taxpayer £200 million?”

  3. If we want to save money, we need to stop paying for cosmetic surgery for vanity reasons on the NHS. I can just about accept gastric bands but not artificial boobs where the woman then gets a job as a page 3 model.

    It was in all the papers the other weekend. A woman told her GP she was depressed at being flat-chested. The GP referred her. It's that easy.

    I'd rather that money and all similar went to pay for just one cancer patient's drugs.

    1. Cosmetic surgery is only rarely available on the NHS, and then only if there are legitimate and overriding medical reasons. Most women in the UK who have breast implants pay to have the operation done privately. Surgery for cosmetic reasons alone simply isn't available on the NHS.

      A more serious problem is that around 40,000 women in the UK who paid to have their breasts enlarged were given faulty implants. Many of those defective implants then had to be removed by the NHS, after some of the private clinics either couldn't or wouldn't help their ‘customers’. Of course, this demonstrates shocking profiteering and cowboy practices by some in the private health care sector. The NHS shouldn't have to pay to correct those botched up operations at private clinics, but those women whose lives were put at risk couldn't be abandoned. Thank goodness we have an NHS that could come to their rescue.

      In my view it’s also a tragedy that some women should feel the need to have breast enlargements and that they are encouraged to do so by private clinics who charge around £4,000 for the surgery. Shouldn't this also make us think that we need to retain and support a national public health service that doesn't have profit as its reason-to-be?

      I've also checked into the story about the woman who was in the media recently for having breast enlargement “on the NHS”. Josie Cunningham had zero breast tissue and so the NHS considered she was a candidate for breast enhancement. There is evidence in the medical literature that severe psychological distress may be caused by complete failure of development of breast tissue (as in Josie’s case) or severe asymmetry (significantly uneven breasts). This cannot be invented by women; either they have this problem or not. Certainly a woman with a ‘B’ cup breast is not going to have a ‘C’ or ‘D’ cup paid for by the NHS.

      I believe tabloids like the Sun run such stories out of pure sexism and voyeurism; for them, anything to do with breasts. But this gives the wrong impression to the public. Only a small number of patients have cosmetic surgery on the NHS, such as breast enlargement or reduction, and then only for medical reasons. The vast majority have to pay privately to have cosmetic surgery. I cannot find any evidence that this is a serious problem for the NHS except in the imaginary world of tabloid journalism.

      This is surely a ‘non story’ compared to the enormous and real issues now threatening the existence of the NHS. It’s this we need to concentrate on if we’re to retain Nye Bevan’s founding principles for our national health service.

  4. Interesting topic. Jon, you write:

    "In my view it’s also a tragedy that some women should feel the need to have breast enlargements and that they are encouraged to do so by private clinics who charge around £4,000 for the surgery."

    Women (other than those deformed by disease or genetics) feel the need to get implants because of a culture that makes them feel it's essential to do so. And men are partly fueling this, because women seek to look their best in order to please and attract men. If men acted like large boobs were not a big part of what attracts them, women would be less likely to go under the knife to get them.

    1. I agree. I also think the problem is fueled by certain sectors of the media, and advertising.

    2. I do too. That was what I meant by the culture.

  5. Been noticing the "all disabled are fakers " debate..even it jumped to 'disabled are scum' at some point..following this logic NHS close down hospitals and kick out tax payer funded real / phoney / not sure / don't care patients..all a bit worrying ..what's going on in this country ?


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