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The NHS at 70

July 24, 2018

The NHS has reached its 70th birthday. Fearing a declining income, an overwhelming majority of doctors opposed the NHS concept in 1948. Seventy years on, the majority of doctors resist changing the underlying principal of a free service at the point of delivery. Described by a former Chancellor of the Exchequer as ‘the nearest thing that the British have to a religion’, the end result is that governments of all persuasions dare not touch what has become a broken model; broken because the cost of funding medical equipment, coupled with medical advances, and an aging and rising population, create a circle that cannot be squared.

Consequently, cancer services are the poor relation of western Europe and much of the developed world. Yet it is widely recognised that Britain has some outstanding cancer scientists and expert cancer physicians. The best 70th birthday present the NHS could receive would be a politically independent commission to re-model this shibboleth and make it fit for its purpose in the 21st century. Instead, the government throws money at the NHS, an extra 3.4% each year until 2023 – announced in the Summer of 2018 – without requiring measured efficiency change. The Government’s commitment is for an extra £20.5 billion per annum. The King’s Fund has noted that it would require a £43 billion per annum rise to achieve the EU average.

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