Replace the NHS 'old banger’ with a new model?

The election bidding war begins over the NHS. For a precis of Tory and Labour pledges, see below this colourful piece from our guest-blogger Frank Talker. Send us your own alternative plan – we may publish it!

My first car was older than I was by six months. It was built in 1952 but the design harked back to 1948, just like the NHS.

Just like the NHS it was wonderful when conceived - narrow cross ply tires for low speed cruising on empty roads, three-speed column change gearbox, bench seats front and back, even a cocktail cabinet. But it would be hopeless in today’s driving conditions – perhaps even dangerous.

The NHS was also born in 1948 and designed to face the conditions that pertained before WW2 when its progenitors climbed the slippery tree of Labour party politics.

In 1948 the average male life expectancy was 66, now it is 77. People died before they could suffer from cancer or Alzheimer’s. Like my car, the NHS was great in its day; but as with my old long departed vehicle, it is not fit for purpose now.

And the reason is not money, as so many politicians would have you believe. It is design. You could spend all the money you like on my old car but it would still be a banger. It just wasn’t designed for today.

Today’s NHS has to deal with problems unimaginable in 1948. Acute health care has ceased to be its raison d’etre. Now it is gerontology, oncology, obesity, smoking related disease, diabetes that clog up the aged arteries of Healthcare UK. No amount of economically unsound and unfair taxation to raise budgetary levels will fix it.

What is needed is to restore the responsibility for personal health and place some of the burden of health care cost where it belongs – on the individual. The NHS pays for tattoo removal. It pays the costs of people who willingly eat themselves into a state of obesity. It pays for smokers and their complaints. Illegal drug abusers, foreign benefit tourists and imbecilic drinkers all fall into its tender hands. Healthcare workers drive themselves to the edge of exhaustion in trying to cope with this flood.

But all these conditions are the result of individual choices. They are not the fault or the choice of the general public, but the choice of the individual complainant. The public purse should not have to suffer from these personal decisions.

Let’s design a system which returns the NHS to its original purpose. As a starter for ten I offer this three point plan:

  1.     Acute health care should be free to all; if you fall, have an accident, a heart attack, catch malaria, etc., the NHS will treat you promptly, free at the point of care.
  2.     Chronic conditions should be based on a system of co-payment. If you can afford a part of your treatment, you should pay a proportion towards it.
  3.     Lifestyle illness – take out insurance; you’re on your own mate.

I don’t doubt that personal taxes and the NHS overall budget could be reduced yet increased where needed as a result.

Whether you agree or disagree, one thing is certain. We can’t go on as we are.

Tory NHS promises here

Labour here