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Part-Privatisation Could Be the Solution to Ailing NHS Treatment and Care

25/06/2013 16:43 BST | Updated 25/08/2013 10:12 BST
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Britain has prided itself on free healthcare for all, but with mounting scandals and examples of disgusting excuses of care, isn't time to truly consider part-privatisation of the ailing National Health Service (NHS)?

In UK, we have the safety net of knowing that whether it is an emergency, a terminal illness or midwifery services, we can have it all and that can never be taken for granted.

Hell - we can get weight-loss surgery and breast implants, if we want from the taxpayer's purse.

And of course, providence of free core services should not change.

But are doctors' calls for patients paying for some NHS care, as dastardly as people glean? Essentially they argue that everyone should receive a set of core services for free but the NHS should charge for some other parts.

Many argue that doctors wouldn't need to propose such changes if it had the budget to carry on as it has.

Granted, the British Medical Association passed a motion of no confidence in Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt for a variety of reasons, but prior to this government or this 'NHS vandal from Westminster' being in power, the free health service has been slowly crumbling for decades.

Budgets have been slashed, red tape has been chopped and changed numerous times and staff has always been strained by the under-resourcing.

Proposed 'top-up fees' have already thrown up the British age-old divide of the all-or-nothing debate.

But under a state-paid system, we are already commoditized and put into a cost-effectiveness spreadsheet and thinking that we are not, is just being ignorant.

Quality, not Quantity

The NHS in England is in the third year of a four-year drive to make £20bn in "efficiency savings" by 2015. Sadly this has already led to cuts in staff, resources and available care and drugs.

Every time I complain about the NHS, I do always remember how one of my closest friends in the US had to get her mother to set her brother's nose, after he broke it and the family couldn't afford healthcare.

For purveyors of Reddit, one knows that 90% of the grotesque injuries in the 'WTF' section is made up of US citizens who say they won't, or can't, pay for healthcare and have effectively chanced their recovery.

Comment threads on how much getting stitches cost, or even getting them removed, are rife.

In Britain, I wouldn't be surprised if there was such a thing as healthcare tourism, because frankly it's incredible that we are one of the few societies that mean we can get the help we need or want.

However, the NHS is not a fail-safe flight to quality and over the years there have been despicable failings in care, cover-ups, budget cuts and bureaucracy that have led to unnecessary deaths.

The Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal highlights one of the undoubtedly poor excuses for care and all the cover-ups that go with any failing institution. But the media doesn't need to tell me about how bad the NHS can be - I've seen and experienced it myself across many hospitals.

The trust that runs Mid Staffordshire Hospital, where patients needlessly died and were 'routinely neglected,' has been put into administration - but is that enough?

Not really, as undoubtedly there are other hospitals out there that are consistently doling out horrendous care.

Our State System Failing

Like most services these days, we all fall under a postcode lottery, and depending where we happen to get ill, our treatment massively varies.

The flight to quantity, rather than quality, is indicative of public services and sadly the NHS is no different.

When we had the outbreak of MRSA, the failure of even keeping our hospitals clean occurred in tandem with the government, at the time, deciding to build new hospitals, instead of making sure that the ones that existed functioned as they should.

With government quotas in place for allotted time and patients to be seen, doctors have had to hurry people through, like a fast food restaurant looking to get through a 2-for-1 rush hour.

The NHS is of course on a tight budget but because of the constrained balance sheet, many drugs that are available for cancer treatment or that could profoundly help someone's quality of life, is not automatically available.

But before people launch into a philosophical debate on who deserves treatment or not, I am talking about making sure that core services and care is readily available, and to the highest standard, for free.

Is it wrong to suggest that millions spent on services, which are not for life-or-death ailments such as IVF, should be borne by the taxpayer?

Just for some perspective, The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) which is responsible for assessing and rubber stamping drugs to use on the NHS, is still mulling over whether to grant multiple sclerosis victims a beta interferon treatment costing £10,000 a year.

Meanwhile, IVF treatment on the NHS costs around £5,000 for each treatment.

Elsewhere, despite even the NHS even admitting that "there has been extensive investigation of the effectiveness of homeopathy [and] there is no good-quality evidence that homeopathy is effective as a treatment for any health condition", it still stumps up between £4m and £12m a year.

Surely we need more money and quality care for every person but perhaps not for elective treatments or even some that are not proven to actually work.

We need to do better. We need every person in society to receive the best possible, available treatment but that comes at a price.