The problem with the NHS? Capacity!

Photo by BrokenSphere, Wikimedia Commons

The problem with the NHS is very simple: there isn’t enough capacity. There aren’t enough GPs, hospital doctors, nurses, physios, OTs, lab techs, radiographers, etc. We currently have less hospital bed capacity than Mexico. We have the second lowest in Europe. 

On all metrics, the UK is way behind comparative nations and no where near the levels required to deliver modern healthcare – cancer treatments, stroke treatments, and heart procedures. And I don’t know about you but if I get cancer I want the best treatment delivered quickly. 

The reasons for this reduced capacity are:

1) Chronic underfunding. In the last 30 years, the NHS has only had one year where funding has reached the EU14 average. This is why the NHS is held in such high esteem globally (at least it was)…it was extremely cost-effective. 

On a comparatively small budget the UK still performs well. We don’t order unnecessary tests, our admissions are short, we get massive bang for our buck! Our outcomes are not the best in the world (e.g. Norway) but are better than our budget dictates.

But over the last decade, the pace of funding has been even lower than previous years, despite this being a time when we need more – Covid, cost of living, climate, aging population, advancing medical treatments, waiting lists, etc. 

We have not invested in our healthcare system. As such we have an unhealthy workforce (record 2.6m off long term sick), low productivity, and no resilience for things like pandemics or winter surges. 

2) The pay and conditions to recruit into the posts we do have are not good enough. Currently the NHS is using large proportions of its budget to provide temp contracts – as professionals simply don’t want to work under these overstretched conditions. Efficiency is being lost! 

3) Waiting lists. While waiting lists are caused by too little capacity, it also perpetuates the problem. Those on waiting lists need cared for (taking up resources) Their condition also becomes more complicated. More emergency hospital admissions. More GP/specialist time! 

Overall, the NHS has been tipped from the most efficient health service globally – where the public put in relatively little and got out near the best care – to an increasingly inefficient health service. 

We no longer have the capacity to treat early and prevent conditions worsening. The spiral continues. 

This is entirely intentional. Only when the NHS fails can the government force the public to accept private. We will now have to pay (through taxes, insurance or out of pocket) much much more, and all for less actual care. The golden age of healthcare in the UK is ending.

It remains an easy fix…

Run it like a business

Demand is high = increase capacity

Staff are leaving = offer better pay and conditions

Run it like a business…where the profit is the health of the nation!

I know, our current emotionally stunted cabinet won’t understand this!