The NHS turns 75: a cause for celebration?
For a long time, Britain’s tax-funded, free-to-use healthcare service, the NHS, has been seen as underfunded and in need of reform. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic there were long waiting lists for operations and emergency rooms were critically understaffed, and the situation has not improved in the meantime. As the NHS celebrates the 75th anniversary of its founding, commentators are not in a party mood.
Weakened and suffering from multiple ailments
The state of the NHS as it celebrates its 75th anniversary should give pause for thought, the Financial Times notes:
“Like many of its patients of that age, the NHS finds itself weakened and suffering from multiple ailments. A service created when men on average died at 66 and women at 71 is buckling under the demands imposed by a much older populace — and the new and expensive treatments made possible by science — within its taxpayer-funded, free-to-use model. The government last week announced plans to expand training and staff, but nursing the service back to full health will require long and costly treatment. A national debate is now needed on what the public expects from it, and how it should be paid for.”
The British are fond of the NHS, but it has been ruinously underfunded under the Conservatives, The Guardian stresses:
“72% of the public believe the NHS is crucial to British society and should remain free at the point of use, while 80% think it needs increased funding. At the same time, 71% expect new charges to be introduced over the next 10 years. This combination of loyalty and pessimism indicates how seriously successive Conservative governments have let the public down. Their systematic underfunding of health, above all when David Cameron was prime minister and budgets were frozen, has led to the NHS struggling more and more to meet people’s needs.”