In our BNC session last week, we found out that the NHS is one of the top things that make people proud to be British. We have all had a lot of positive experiences with using the NHS, however it is also facing a lot of financial difficulties recently and it made us wonder: is the NHS worth fighting for? Surely there must be other alternatives worth looking at that are both more efficient and less costly.
When we first asked this question, we immediately thought about private healthcare similar to the system that they have in the US. In the US, there is no NHS so if someone gets ill it is likely that they will have to pay for their own treatment. The government does, however, fund two healthcare plans aimed at the elderly, disabled, poor and the very young. In addition, many Americans have healthcare paid for by their employer as an additional benefit. However, there are 46 million people across the US who do not have any sort of health insurance and 62% of all bankruptcies are caused by high healthcare costs. This is obviously not a desirable situation to be in and not something that anyone would want for the UK.
However, there are other alternatives to the NHS that are very successful, for example the public insurance model that is used in France and Australia. In fact, France’s healthcare system has been ranked as the best healthcare system in the world by the World Health Organisation. The healthcare system in France is made up of a network of public hospitals, private hospitals and other medical service providers. It is a universal service providing health care for everyone, regardless of wealth, age or social status. It is partly funded by the government and partly by users who have to pay a small fraction of the costs. The benefits of this system are the ease of getting an appointment, readily available alternative options such as homeopathic medicine and the cost (which is much cheaper than you would imagine). Like all healthcare systems, there are some cons but these seem to fade into insignificance when compared to the pros. To us, this sounds like it could be a pretty viable alternative to the NHS.
We also looked at a social insurance model of healthcare such as the one used in Switzerland. Healthcare here is universal and, although there are no free state-provided health service, private health insurance is compulsory. Switzerland has an extensive network of doctors and clean, well-equipped hospitals and clinics; waiting lists for treatment are short; patients are free to choose their own doctor and usually have unlimited access to specialists; accident and emergency rooms are rarely overwhelmed. Surveys have shown that 90% of patients are satisfied with the service they receive. Again, this seems like another possible alternative to the NHS.
According to the statistics we have looked at, the NHS consistently underachieves and underperforms. We were also shocked to find out that, in 2018-2019, £155 billion was spent on the NHS (much of this paid for in taxes). So why should we save something that is expensive and doesn't always work? Just because people say it makes them proud? Personally, we think it's at least worth looking at other options...
What do you think? Do you think the NHS is worth saving? And if so, why? What does it have that other systems don’t have? Or is there an alternative system that we haven't thought of?