I admire Sarah Vine for being rare amongst British journalists in stating the obvious – that the UK’s public health service, the NHS, needs radical reform.
She is right to criticize politicians of all classes for falling to face the truth about the NHS.
Vine proposes introducing charges in the NHS – it’s a simple enough measure and would put the UK in line with the rest of the world.
The NHS is abused because it is apparently free of charge. The cost is hidden in taxation and other public services which are excluded in favor of throwing billions of pounds at propping up the NHS.
We all know stories of abuse in the NHS, especially by foreigners or non-residents turning up for free health care. Similarly, there are the Saturday night drunk who foul hospital casuality departments every week. There are the people who waste doctors time, so that the needy can’t get an appointment. Also cancer patients suffer from care that is far beneath standards in other advanced countries, like France or Germany.
I live in Cyprus and a few years ago, the government introduced charges for seeing general practitioners and bigger charges for specialists, plus charges for prescriptions. Overnight there was an amazing change. Previously, it was common to see people with large shopping bags of medication from hospital pharmacies. Hospital waiting rooms were seriously overcrowded and there was lots of jostling to avoid the queues. But the change in policy brought a sense of order and priority.
It is time for the UK to start introducing comprehensive charges for services too.
Charges would increase the NHS’s effective revenue but massive efficiencies in costs are also urgently need. Let’s see if there’s another brave UK journalist who will recommend how to cut the NHS’s costs?