NHS crisis is coming to a head in 2017. Time to slaughter the sacred cow

On just one day post-Christmas, London ambulance crews were instructed to not attend all but one of London’s Accident & Emergency Departments.

The one to which they were permitted to take their patients had five ambulance crews in the halls with their patients for up to seven hours.

That’s five ambulance crews, off the road, unable to respond to emergency calls for seven hours; five patients without a bed or a trolley, who couldn’t be seen for up to seven hours.

The first politician to notice that the NHS is now too big to run efficiently and who proposes a breakdown into smaller divisions – as any major corporation would – gets my vote.

NHS Oncology; NHS Pediatrics; NHS Heart and Lung – I don’t know exactly what would work, but I do know that we can’t go on like this.

Its £140bn a year budget puts the NHS in the vicinity of the top 20 largest organisations in the world. Almost 750,000 employees make it the fifth biggest employer in the world.

And yet it scarcely makes the top 20 of best health organisations in the world. So what makes successive governments think that the laws of management and return on investment don’t count?

I know we don’t want to look at the NHS in any way as accountable for the tax money we spend. We just want it to be; and we want it to be everything we think it should be (on which, of course, not everyone agrees).

Not the envy of the world
It is this sacred cow mentality, this sentimentality, that stops us from demanding better.
We are so fond of saying it’s the envy of the world. But it’s not.
The UK has the worst cancer outcomes of any rich country. In 2000, the UK was ranked 18th in the world. We cannot, surely, believe things have got better? In 2010, there were we still were – stuck at 18.
In a 2014 survey, the UK was 14th – in Europe!
So it’s time to stop ‘standing up for the NHS’, time to stop demanding that it just be given more money, and time to stop being so precious about an organisation that has outgrown its own ability to even function, let alone humanely and competently.

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