Not a week goes by when NHS is not mentioned on the news. It is often used by politicians as
leverage for votes because NHS is understandably very important to all citizens, young and old.
The media seem to paint a bleak picture of its present and future. From student doctors' demonstrations for better working contracts to unfair pay packages being allocated to the top dogs, these are the images we are being presented with daily. With the net expenditure increasing by over £40 billion in the last 10 years, it seems like NHS has seen better days. If anyone was to judge the state of NHS based on these speculations alone, they could be forgiven for feeling rather negative. However, figures tend to show the truth and if one takes a closer look at the state of NHS expressed in numbers, the reality does not look as grim.
The Commonwealth Fund has recently compared health services across nine leading European countries. Managing to beat countries like USA and Germany, our home health service came out on top. It scored the highest in categories such as patient-related care, efficiency, safety and effectiveness. Perhaps this is not too surprising considering that net expenditure has increased so much in the past 10 years.
But maybe there are other factors at play here. It has been shown that the number of operations and A&E attendances has risen by 45% and 22% respectively over the last decade. This has been accommodated by increasing number of doctors and nurses being hired across the country, hence improving the quality and efficiency of the services provided. Additionally, number of management staff has decreased, accounting only for 2.35% of the NHS's total employees. Investing money into the primary care staff only further contributes to the effectiveness of the system.The rise in funding is not surprising considering recent trends in demographics. Our ageing population is growing and diseases that would have been lethal years ago can be treated now.
Average life expectancy will continue to rise while the population as a whole will continue to grow, straining the NHS budget further. A service that is already spread over more than 14,000 locations and providing treatments to nearly 1 million people a day will obviously need as much investment as it can get.
It is evident from the figures and research conducted by the Commonwealth fund that although the NHS is under stress, it is not in a dire situation like the media would have us believe. That being said, free and high quality healthcare is not something every country can boast about. Therefore, it needs continued support both from the government and the public. Simple choices like opting out to seek the right service, for example going to a GP instead of overcrowding the A&E department, could make a difference. Help the keep the NHS great!