I very much believe in keeping and honouring our traditions. However, I am not so short-sighted to believe that we must keep traditions just for the sake of it. If a tradition does not work in today’s United Kingdom then we must change it for the better.The tradition I speak of is our National Health Service. Over the last ten years the Government has poured billions of pounds into the NHS with the aim of bringing it up to a 21st Century standard. But it has not worked. How can it have worked when as a country we are meant to be elated at the prospect of only having to wait a maximum of 18 weeks for an operation?You mention this to someone in Europe or America and they laugh: well after they ask you what a waiting list is.
The fact is people want high quality health care and treatment. They want it immediately and they don’t want to pay any large cost at the point of treatment.
Under the current NHS, patients receive non immediate care, some of which is of dubious quality, and if forced to go private they are required to pay a large amount of money for treatment.
And the NHS could be in an even worse state if it were not for one very important aspect: the doctors, the nurses and staff who work tirelessly, often under very difficult circumstances to give the best quality patient care that is possible under the current system. We must be very, very grateful for their dedication and hard work, without which the National Health Service would fail.
I have recently spent a lot of time visiting hospitals across the country and have talked to many senior staff members, all of whom have said the same thing: staff morale in the NHS is at the lowest it has ever been and they are crying out for changes in the system.
I recently put my proposal forward for a system of compulsory health insurance, see: (http://www.cornerstonegroup.org.uk/files/Bone_Cornerstone_Health_paper_2007.pdf <http://www.cornerstonegroup.org.uk/files/Bone_Cornerstone_Health_paper_2007%5B2%5D.pdf> ). These are my own views on the best way that our country’s citizens can be served by a health service that gives them what they want and need.
I also believe that decisions about local health care should be taken locally. The NHS is suffocating under the red tape and targets that emanate from Whitehall bureaucrats and accountants. The best people to make decisions about local health care are the local clinicians and doctors themselves. They are the experts, not those in the ivory towers of Whitehall.
What is certain is that urgent changes need to be made to our health service to ensure that patients get the treatment they need, when they need it.