The National Health Service (NHS)Â was founded by Labour in 1948, in order to instill a free, national and dependable healthcare service to all members of the state. Now, 60 years later, almost none of the aforementioned applies to the current system.
This week, in the latest of recent health horrors, the Healthcare Commission's annual report for England showed 'General Practioners (GPs)Â in less than a third of trusts' were guaranteeing their patients an appointment within 48 hours. Despite the Â£100,000 contract for GPs nationwide, introduced in 2004, GPsÂ have proceeded toÂ make a mockery of their patients by abusing taxpayers money funded in to the NHS via the government.
After the 'postcode lottery' - uncovered by BBC's Panorama last month -Â which concluded some patients in the UK are left without vital treatment due to a lack of funding, whilst rival areas areÂ allowed four times more cash than others, the state of the "service" is resembling a shambles at the moment.Â It is basically a lottery asÂ depending on where you live, as to whether you will receive the required treatment.Â Democracy and equality, I don't think.Â
Although NHS health ratings in 2008 show over 25% of patients deem trusts to be excellent in the UK, this does not hide health's shortcomings. If the NHS is immaculate, why recently were the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Primary Care Trust (PCT)Â and the Dartford and Gravesham PCT, both in Kent,Â criticised by the Healthcare Commission afterÂ outbreaks ofÂ Clostridium Difficile in their wards in the past 12 months?
It is not only Kent which is suffering and with just 31% of patients guaranteed an appointment at their PCT within 48 hours, it is no wonder that people are beginning to distrust hospitals. According to the BBC, the National Orthopaedic Hospital and the Scarborough and North East Yorkshire NHS Trust top the list as the worst 'double weak' trusts in the UK. The latter does not surprise me, as speaking from experience, my great uncle was negligently attended to in the Scarborough ward in filthy circumstances.
But, it is not just the quality (or lack of) of NHS trusts which beggars belief, but their salaries which add to the bemusement. Despite pressures on GPs recently to have to cater for working at weekends in their local trusts across the UK, which many reluctantly decided to agree to - which would understandably begrudge most GPs, dueÂ to their already busy schedule - the astronomical fees they retain should be balanced by wanting to serve the public. After all, we wait for the service and areÂ betrayed by late appointments and witness our free service deteriorate.
Furthermore, patients in some cases who wish to top up on their healthcare treatment, have to instead rely on private healthcare. However another shortcoming of the NHS is that by paying privately for banned drugs by theÂ Government's rationing body, "they risk being refused free NHS care", according to yesterday's Daily Express.Â Â
The NHS as an institution must recognise that if people are to use the service, their workers must provide cleaner conditions in wards, better patient care and must cap pay for GPs and issue payments on a performance-related basis. If outbreaks of diseases and continued excessive waiting times persist, most people will flee to private healthcare. But, ah, we cannot all afford that? So should we just be "lambs to the slaughter" of this nonsensical system?
Perhaps the "fat cats" should examine those who they are hurting the most, rather than burning their backpockets with dough.