On 29th May 2015 The Telegraph published: The UN’s suggestion that Britain ration health care is a wake-up call – NHSreality feels that the Telegraph interpretation is unjust…the UN are merely asking for honesty and reality.. The staff know this is the truth as well ( Telegraph Letters 30th July 2015: Demoralised NHS staff lack the resources that are vital for reform – Government’s attitude needs to change). Even the UN is asking UK Politicians for honesty on rationing, health strategy and planning..
A group of academics have rightly warned that the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals discriminate against the elderly. Its targets imply that resources allocated to conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease should be focused on those aged 69 or younger – a variety of rationing that one expert labels “highly unethical”. Indeed, health care should not come down to a battle between the generations. Everyone deserves proper medical treatment regardless of age, and being afforded dignity in one’s later years is a mark of a civilised society.
However, the debate over these health targets highlights aspects of public policy that need urgent review. Britons are living longer – a good change but an expensive one. Within two decades, one in 10 people in this country will be over 85. This means more costs in terms of care. The problem is already apparent in overcrowded hospital wards.
Britain needs a serious, honest debate about the NHS’s priorities, structure and finances. Part of the solution will be shifting resources away from hospitals and emergency care and towards services such as GP surgeries. Greater competition in the delivery of those services should help raise efficiency. Steps have to be taken to ensure that individuals have decent private pensions and savings to invest in high-quality care. Preparation for old age can also mean leading a healthy lifestyle earlier on, to avoid the kinds of problems that can put someone in hospital.
The challenges are huge, but the Government should face them none the less. Now that it has a majority, it has the chance to review how the NHS works, and effect change. Britain’s approach to health care needs reform if it is to serve future generations generously and without discrimination.