Politics: the Birth of the NHS….Is the Death of the NHS Coming?

The first government elected in 1945 after the end of the Second World War to replace the coalition headed by Sir Winston Churchhill was formed by the socialist-leaning centre left, Labour party led by Clement Atlee (Prime Minister 1945-1951). He had made manifesto commitments to implement the recommendations of the Beveridge Report of 1942. The report’s recommendation to create “comprehensive health and rehabilitation services for prevention and cure of disease was implemented across the United Kingdom by 1948. Aneurin Bevan was Minister of Health (1945-1951), who spearheaded the establishment of the National Health Service. The services were initially funded through general taxation and National Insurance as part of the introduction of a wider Welfare State. They were initially free at the point of use. 

However financial constraints meant that Hugh Gaitskill,

the Chancellor of the Exchequer 1950-51, soon introduced some charges for prescription glasses and false teeth in response to economic difficulties related to looming war in Korea. This led to the resignation of  Aneurin Bevan seeing the prescription charges as a blow to the principle of a free health service. Later that year they lost power to the centre rightConservative party yet the principle at free health care at the point of use has been held dear by Britons to this very day.

However, with an expenditure of the NHS 2012-2013. (£108.9 billion for National Health Service (England), £3.9bn for Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland, £9.38bn for NHS Scotland, £5.3bn for NHS Wales) and ever increasing, is the NHS sustainable? 

The Coalition (Conservative/Liberal Democrats) Government has allowed Private prescriptions within the NHS. Is this the Beginning of the End?

We will be seeking to explore this.

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  • It's obvious you don't like private prescriptions as you see this as the beginning of the end for the NHS. However, if you have a patient who you know would benefit from a drug approved by the EMA but NICE have refused to fund, would you point the patient to where they could buy it legally abroad to ensure that they got the proper drug and not some questionable rubbish off the internet; or if they needed infusions like alemtuzumab, would you point them to a reputable clinic or set of clinics where they could get them? Or would this still endanger your principles due to the possible assumption that you got a commercial benefit from the advice?

    • My gosh, it’s a combustible concoction to write of the plight of the NHS and to juxtapose that with a comment from Lexie about how our universal health care system ought to make allowances for those with the means to pay for treatments the rest are excluded from. One tries to refrain from voicing their opinion on this blog, but at times like this one has no other option.

      If one is that desperate to ascertain Campath 1-H then there a loads of foreign destinations you can go to, some of them are in well regulated first world destinations. Until NICE approves Campath 1-H, it remains an unapproved treatment in Britain regardless of the EMA’s stance. To prescribe it off-license or privately in a UK clinic is a despicable action. It suggests that we are a nation ever divided on who deserves care, principally based on who can afford it.

      One assumes that Lexie is an educated middle-class white woman, belonging to a social bracket that is very able to convey its rights to access better services. If those services are deemed unaffordable then Lexie can simply proclaim she can fund it autonomously as long as state approved clinicians monitor her progress. That seems fair, right?

      But imagine if Lexie was a working-class, under-achieving Northern lass from Bradford with MS. Imagine if the nature of both Lexies’ diseases was comparable, yet the latter misses out from private prescription due to a lack of social capital, but the ‘deserving’ Lexie is quids in simply because of her advantageous position in life. Is that fair?

      It sickens me that in the week Britain has become the top market in Europe for Ferrari car sales, the use of food banks in our country has tripled. It is nothing short of a national disgrace for such things occuring. Only a British doctor with no morality will prescribe alemtuzumab privately knowing that equally deserving cases exist that cannot afford it. It is the epitome of perniciousness to prescribe alemtuzumab privately when the vast majority in Britain have no access to it.

      In Britain we look out for each other. We care for each other. It’s what differentiates us from other countries.

  • You tell 'em, Dr Dre! I am glad someone on this blog speaks sense. We're all in it together. Either you help us all on an equal basis or you can get stuffed. Rule, Britannia!

  • There seems to be no point in trying to have a rational argument about the plight of the NHS and how it can be funded in the future if it is reduced to party politics about the beauty of socialism. I would love it if we could all have all the treatments we require as soon as possible in state of the art hospitals, but how is it going to be afforded? Perhaps Dr. Dre you can put up some suggestions instead of speculating on my background and reducing the argument to a personal level and suggesting I leave the country

  • It is much, much more complicated than that. It could be argued that if people adjust other aspects of their lifestyle so as to be able to afford drugs, when other people choose to spend their money on other things, why shouldn't the former pay to have the drugs rather than no-one benefitting at all? I realise it is not a perfect solution but can offer some relief to some people. I am not necessarily talking only of DMDs but including other things like LDN, Fampridine, FES

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