On Monday during a speech to the King’s Fund health think-tank, the Conservatives’ Leader David Cameron proposed to transfer the day-to-day administration of the National Health Service from government ministers to an independent board. While Cameron is right to push for the liberation of the NHS from the traditional obsessive socialist dogma of rigid targets and excessive financial waste and bureaucracy, the National Health Service’s problems go well beyond political mismanagement. These problems are cultural engrained on the British psyche and are concerned with the entire purpose of the NHS itself.
When Clement Atlee’s first Labour government introduced the NHS during 1948, it not only intended to provide instant healthcare to the less fortunate members of society who were unable to afford private medical provision, it also sought to provide a health service so good that the better off would prefer the NHS over the private sector alternatives. Unfortunately, as the history of the NHS has consistently shown; this not only impossible, but also immoral as Sir Keith Joseph, Baroness Thatcher and Nicholas Ridley all realised. The primary functions of the NHS are to provide healthcare for those who cannot afford it privately and attend to medical emergencies at the taxpayers’ expense. The NHS should not subsidise the treatment of the better off whom whether they realise or not are consuming resources that are intended for the less fortunate out of a selfish desire for their own convenience over those who need it more. Not only that, but the NHS should not purchase and subsidise medical nonessentials such as Viagra tablets. If impotent men what an erection, they should pay for it out of their own expense!
If the NHS is to provide any real long-term improvement in health provision, then the nation must accept that the NHS cannot compete with the services provided by the private equivalents and as such, resources need to be better prioritised. Those who can afford private provision should be compelled out of moral obligation to the less fortunate to receive private treatment so long as it is not subsidised by the taxpayer and state.