Stop the NHS runaway train before it’s too late. The health service is consuming all our wealth ..

Ross Clark in The Times 29th September 2015 tells it as it is. Stop the NHS runaway train before it’s too late. The health service is consuming all our wealth ..  Unless the professionals (Nurses and Doctors) buy into the ideology it can only get worse….Most of us hear lies when we hear politicians talking about the health services.. Overt rationing now will be less painful than covert rationing continuing as infinitum..


The NHS has expanded so quickly over the past 18 years — from consuming 5.3 per cent of GDP to 8.2 per cent — that by my back-of-the-envelope calculation it will finally consume the entire UK economy about the year 2100. Maybe it will be sooner. A new threat to NHS financial stability has emerged: thanks to the increasing complexity of drugs it will cost a lot more in future to produce generic versions.

At present, drugs typically fall in price by 95 per cent once their patents expire. But new drugs that rely on biological agents are expected to fall in price by only 25 per cent, drastically cutting the £13.5 billion the NHS saves every year by using generic drugs.

The NHS should have cottoned on much faster to the fact that generic drugs cannot be relied on indefinitely. It should be using its power in the marketplace much more to push prices down. Pharmaceutical sales reps should be quivering in fear that the NHS’s central buyers might pass over their products.

But the bigger problem lies in the consulting room. Is it really necessary, as revealed in Health Survey England 2013, for the NHS to be prescribing 18.7 medicines for every man, woman and child in the country? Given that I didn’t have a single prescription last year, and I suspect there are many, many others like me, there must be a fair slice of the population which is popping back the pills on an Elvis Presley scale.

We know about the chronic over-prescription of antibiotics because it has caused serious problems in bacterial resistance. If they are still being over-prescribed when doctors have been warned endlessly about the problem, then how much more extensive must be the over-prescription of socially more benign drugs?

Prescribing drugs is far too built in to the culture of the NHS. It has become a way of keeping GPs’ consultations short and to the point. It is as if doctors are saying: “Look, how about I write this for you and then you go away and I can get on with the next patient?”

It isn’t just the price of drugs that we are going to have to contend with if we are going to contain the NHS’s ever-expanding budget. We are going to have to ask ourselves: how did we get to a situation where 50 per cent of women and 43 per cent of men are on regular prescriptions — and how much of these are really necessary?

This entry was posted in A Personal View, Consultants, General Practitioners, Junior Doctors, Nurses, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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