Letter: R Roberts January 16, 2018

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A snapshot last week of our much-loved NHS. Hundreds of ambulances waiting for hours to unload patients. Fifty-five thousand operations cancelled.

Hospital corridors with trolleys bearing patients with staff having nowhere to put them. An elderly stroke victim who waited so long for treatment that she died 16 hours after arriving at A&E. As I say, this is only a snapshot of a few days. The facts are clear, our NHS is on the brink of collapse which brings us to the question as to what can be done to turn it around? Whatever the answer, I don’t think we should expect our politicians to provide it. Seldom can this country have had such a mediocre collective forming a government. The opposition is no better. On the one hand we have Corbyn and McDonnell and their Alice in Wonderland economics, which not even a majority of their own MPs believe is viable. That leaves the Liberal Democrats, who are surely an irrelevance with their handful of seats and whose ideas are continuously rejected by the electorate. It seems obvious that the funding is inadequate, the answer to the problem is less simple. I think that we have reached the point where it is no longer viable to fund the NHS from general taxation. I suspect that statement will rankle with many but that doesn’t mean it is wrong. Look at the facts. The NHS is a bottomless pit when it comes to funding requirements. There is an ever increasing demand fuelled mostly by our ageing population and also because of a woeful lack of social care for the elderly which continues to have a huge impact on the NHS through bed blocking. In addition, the sometimes astronomical cost of new drugs means that many patients suffering from chronic conditions are told that the NHS is not prepared to fund their prescription. Any of these issues would be problematic enough but when you then factor in the technological advances that are just around the corner, which will, paradoxically cost money rather than save it, it is plain to see that we need to undertake a fundamental review, perhaps by means of a Royal Commission, to ascertain two things. What do we expect the NHS to provide, and how do we propose to fund it? This is far too important an issue to be left to politicians, most of whom whilst realising we have reached the end of the road, lack the courage to admit it. Who can really blame them when it would after all be political suicide and, as the old saying goes, “turkeys don’t generally vote for Christmas”?