Funding the NHS, by Jack Rowland

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seaton_hospitalI was born in 1950 so have been fortunate in my lifetime that the NHS has existed throughout that time. During my formative years I remember listening to the family discussions that took place concerning health provision that was available before the NHS was created. By and large my parents and grandparents feared having to seek health related help – they were all working class living in, what was then, a poor area of London.

My formative years, hearing stories at first hand, forged the views I still have today regarding the type of society I want to live in and the one I want to see for my children. They are both in their 30’s with good University degrees, good careers and living in London and Bournemouth, but cannot afford to buy a property yet and do not have the salary linked pension provision that I enjoyed during my career.

Where I live now in Seaton we are experiencing the same problem with the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) that other areas of the U.K. are experiencing, namely giving options across a number of local hospitals with the aim of reducing bed spaces. The CCG has gone through the sham of holding public consultation events to be able to put a tick in a box when no doubt the decision had already been made when looking at options to save money.

To say that alternative services will be put in place to avoid people having to occupy bed spaces is just a future promise at the moment and, in my opinion, will not adequately tackle the problems that people will face in the future with people living longer, but, as we know now, having more multiple difficult health issues allied with possibly living at home alone or with another aged husband / wife or partner.

So who is the real culprit?

I lay the blame squarely at the door of Central Government and the current Conservative stance. The U.K. is the 5th or 6th richest country (depending on which statistic you believe). The Government decide how the expense cake will be divided and the priorities whilst servicing Government debt and hopefully growing the size of the cake. I want to see the NHS and Social Services receive a larger slice of the cake as we can afford to do that if the will is there to match the current and future needs.

I want to see everyone benefit fairly from a growing economy and in a society where health and social care is not subject to a post code lottery and a fair national tax system for individuals and businesses that encourages individuals and businesses to grow and develop without resorting to tax avoidance schemes or exploiting loopholes.

I know that the cost of the NHS and Social Services will grow due to an ageing population and I’m not advocating throwing more money at them without strong controls over how the money is spent, but I do want to see the same improved provision in the future regardless of where you live or your financial situation. As a country we can afford to do this without decisions being devolved to a local level that has resulted in the current situation and Central Government pointing the finger and blaming health professionals.

Although I am a Councillor on Seaton Town Council the views I have expressed above are my personal views. JR


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