Its a health financial emergency – and the Chancellor has taken no direct action.

Normally, in an emergency, you need to face up to the truth, and take action accordingly. We are in a health and social care financial emergency – and the Chancellor has taken no direct action. His denial does not surprise NHSreality. It is going to get worse.. The truth is that “NHS is sick man of Europe for doctors and beds” (Chris Smyth in the Times 23 November 2016).

Let’s be honest: the NHS is costing thousands of lives (Karol Sikora in The Telegraph 25th October 2016)


Janice Turner in The Times 23rd November 2016 agrees with NHSreality about ID cards: This era of post-privacy is made for ID cards but the amount to be saved by being frugal is peanuts compared with the global sum.

meg Hillier also comments (Public Accounts Committee):

Sir, Your leader “Bill of Health” (Nov 23) raises some interesting issues. The government rightly set a target in 2013 to recover £500 million (about 0.5 per cent of the NHS total budget) from overseas patients who receive non-urgent healthcare in the UK but who are not entitled to NHS care. Unfortunately it did little or nothing to set up a system to collect it, assuming that hospitals would just get on with the job. The government is only claiming about 28 per cent of what it is owed by governments of EEA patients who received healthcare while visiting the UK. So it cannot wriggle off the hook of responsibility.

It is absolutely right that those who should pay do so. But the system must be workable. A passport is not an entitlement card for health services, and with only about 85 per cent of British citizens owning one there is clear concern about what happens to those without ID.

The debate about overseas patients is important but must not cloud the serious financial issues that continue to beset the NHS.

Meg Hillier MP (Lab)

Chairwoman, public accounts committee, House of Commons

“NHS is sick man of Europe for doctors and beds” (Chris Smyth in the Times 23 November 2016)

Britain has some of the lowest numbers of doctors and hospital beds in Europe, according to figures that support claims that NHS patients are suffering because of short-staffing.

NHS performance on keeping stroke and heart attack patients alive is mediocre and is well below average on cancer survival, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said.

New mothers are sent home sooner in Britain than in any other European country, the research found, reinforcing concerns that a shortage of beds is pushing people out of hospital too quickly. Spending on health in Britain is around the European average after a change in the way figures are calculated, but the NHS still receives notably less than the French and German health systems.

Doctors said that the figures were hugely concerning at a time when NHS chiefs are planning to reduce beds and further squeeze staff numbers to save cash. Britain ranks 30 out of 34 countries on doctor numbers, with 2.8 per 1,000 people, while Germany has almost 50 per cent more.

On the hospital bed league table, Britain is third from bottom, with 2.7 per 1,000 people, proportionately fewer than Serbia or Montenegro. Germany has three times as many. Mark Porter, chairman of the British Medical Association’s council, warned that the NHS “desperately needs more doctors”. He said it was “incredibly concerning” that the figures came on the day that the chancellor dismissed calls for extra funds for the NHS in the autumn statement, adding: “It is vital that the government takes its head out of the sand.”

Taj Hassan, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: “It should be obvious that proposals to cut more beds will only cause a worsening of the situation . . . as well as adding risk to the very lives we are trying to save.” The figures also showed that new mothers in Britain spend just 1.5 days in hospital, half the EU average.

Louise Silverton, of the Royal College of Midwives, said this was partly because midwives played a bigger role in Britain, but added: “I do have concerns that women may be going home sooner than they want to because of the availability of post-natal beds.”

The Department of Health said that the number of doctors was rising. “The NHS was ranked the best and most efficient healthcare system in the world by the independent Commonwealth Fund, showing we make every bit of spending count,” a spokeswoman added.

Where Britain stands

  • 14th out of 24 countries for heart attack survival
  • 10th out of 21 stroke survival
  • 17th out of 20 breast cancer survival
  • 3rd out of 21 avoidable hospital admissions for asthma, heart disease and diabetes
  • 30th out of 34 doctors per capita
  • 31st out of 34 hospital beds per capita
  • 29th out of 33 MRI scanners
  • 31st out of 33 CT scanners



This entry was posted in A Personal View, 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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