Is Nigel Farage Milking the NHS

In this article, we explore the importance of public health since this has been the standard many health professionals are judged on, from student learning to high-level research. When health professionals are supported better, they can surely provide a better service.

David Barrow

Rehab Guru Co-Founder

This week, a mem­ber of the British pub­lic threw a milk­shake over the Brex­it Par­ty leader Nigel Farage. It is unclear at the time of writ­ing, what the shake thrower’s inten­tions were or which issue he dis­agreed with Farage. Per­haps the indi­vid­ual was a sup­port­er of the NHS and thought Nigel should shake-up his views before talk­ing in public.

This inci­dent came in a week where Nigel Farage voiced his view that the NHS should be pri­va­tised shift­ing to insur­ance-based health­care. It is worth men­tion­ing that Mr Farage has no expe­ri­ence in the med­ical pro­fes­sion. How­ev­er, what­ev­er your thoughts are on Farage and his views, this does pro­vide an oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­sid­er how pub­lic health is fund­ed and whether receiv­ing it is a right or a privilege.

“to vote for the par­ty who promis­es to keep tax­es low with­out real­is­ing they are vot­ing to bank­rupt pub­lic health”

Many devel­oped nations in the world have a pub­lic health ser­vice, and while the British NHS was the first of its kind, it is by no means unique. Cana­da, Swe­den, Cuba and South Korea have them, yet they all enjoy excel­lent pub­lic health records. Unlike the UK, these coun­tries pay high­er rates of tax for their care, plus, they have bet­ter atti­tudes towards exer­cise and healthy eat­ing, with low­er rates of alco­hol and tobac­co consumption.

DEATH OR TAXES?

Back here in the UK though, any men­tion of increas­ing tax­es to pay for health is often met with huge gasps. After all, half of all Britons would rather fund their four hol­i­days a year, buy clothes that quick­ly fall out of fash­ion, and buy a new widescreen TV than fund the health ser­vice. The best evi­dence of this is the ten­den­cy for the British pub­lic to vote for the par­ty who promis­es to keep tax­es low with­out real­is­ing they are vot­ing to bank­rupt pub­lic health, the fire ser­vice, the police and edu­ca­tion in the process. Some peo­ple want to have their cake and eat it. How­ev­er, some cakes are just for look­ing at.

Say no to the doughnut

The pub­lic is wak­ing up to the fact that lifestyle choic­es cre­ate dis­eases which puts a con­sid­er­able strain on the pub­lic purse. This is not sus­tain­able unless it is paid for with a tax relat­ing to unhealthy con­sum­ables like alco­hol, cig­a­rettes, sug­ar, car­cino­genic arti­fi­cial flavour­ings and fast food. Call­ing it a sug­ar tax may cause resis­tance so why not call it an NHS Tax; would this be more palat­able? After all, a very wise per­son once said, ​‘If you don’t make time for your well­ness, you will be forced to make time for your illness’.

Senior fitness couple
“If you don’t make time for your well­ness, you will be forced to make time for your ill­ness.” (Quote Cour­tesy of Gavin Damant at Pio­neer­ing Change)

If we do not fund the health ser­vice cor­rect­ly (by rais­ing tax­es), then where are we going? There is dis­cus­sion here in the UK to pri­va­tise the health ser­vice, yet this is already in motion as insur­ance com­pa­nies bid for con­tracts to run ser­vices in the NHS. It is worth high­light­ing that these are NO dif­fer­ent from the Amer­i­can insur­ance com­pa­nies who can finan­cial­ly crip­ple fam­i­lies who — faced with exor­bi­tant med­ical fees — are unable to meet their med­ical bills. Many of which, as a con­se­quence, face bank­rupt­cy and home­less­ness. Imag­ine a £10,000 bill per per­son each year to reg­is­ter with your GP or to walk through the doors of a hos­pi­tal? No insur­ance card, no access! Then add the actu­al med­ical bills on top for treat­ment, surgery, ther­a­py or advice. Unless we change our ways, this may be the direc­tion we con­tin­ue towards.

DISMANTLING THE NHS, ONE TRUST AT A TIME.

Cur­rent­ly, in Britain, insur­ance com­pa­nies are win­ning NHS con­tracts by charg­ing the gov­ern­ment less mon­ey than the NHS would oth­er­wise pay for. Since the insur­ance com­pa­nies want a prof­it, they sub­se­quent­ly cut jobs or restrict fund­ing for oper­a­tions, leav­ing lots of mon­ey for them­selves and their share­hold­ers. This is dis­man­tling the NHS, one Trust at a time.

“Imag­ine a £10,000 bill per per­son each year to reg­is­ter with your GP or to walk through the doors of a hospital?”

Some read­ers may won­der why med­ical insur­ance gets such a bad rep­u­ta­tion when the likes of Bupa, Axa and Nuffield pro­vide such high-qual­i­ty health­care. The answer is sim­ple: the per­son receiv­ing the health­care pays for it in month­ly pre­mi­ums. Call it a pre­mi­um, a tax, an invest­ment. Call it what you will; it costs mon­ey. Imag­ine if we all did this, how amaz­ing would all aspects of the NHS be?

Doctor freaking out

THE NHS IS NOT FREE

So we return to the conun­drum of fund­ing and tax. This coun­try does not run with­out col­lect­ing its tax­es. We must pay the cor­rect amount and declare every­thing. The NHS is not free, same for polic­ing, social hous­ing, edu­ca­tion and the fire ser­vice. Per­haps the prob­lem was cre­at­ed by the founders of the NHS when they called it a ​‘free health ser­vice’. As we have seen, it nev­er was, plus, there are too many in this coun­try who do not val­ue ser­vices which appear to be free — the pub­lic need to wake up to real­i­ty. Doc­tors, nurs­es, police offi­cers, teach­ers and fire­fight­ers are not vol­un­teers. The work they do deserves recog­ni­tion by the pub­lic. The best way to acknowl­edge the vital work these peo­ple do is to pay them ade­quate salaries, pro­vide high-qual­i­ty equip­ment, the lat­est tech­nol­o­gy and advanced soft­ware apps.

“wake up to real­i­ty. Doc­tors, nurs­es, police offi­cers, teach­ers and fire­fight­ers are not volunteers”

The issue of fund­ing for the NHS is unique. If the fire brigade has fears over safe­ty con­di­tions, they can strike, as can teach­ers and train dri­vers for their caus­es too. It is, how­ev­er, ille­gal for a health­care pro­fes­sion­al to do the same. They would be struck off. The alter­na­tive is to protest, but a recent demon­stra­tion in Lon­don on 1st Feb­ru­ary 2018 by health­care pro­fes­sion­als result­ed in No change. NHS pro­fes­sion­als gave up their week­end to ral­ly against health ser­vice bud­get cuts, yet It’s far too easy for the gov­ern­ment to ignore the protest. Per­haps they should have learnt from the cli­mate pro­tes­tors who recent­ly took over parts of Cen­tral Lon­don. How­ev­er, it became obvi­ous that they were also fobbed-off by the gov­ern­ment with the emp­ty ​‘we’ve got the mes­sage’ remark which now seems like a dis­tant memory.

NHS protestors

A MESSAGE TO FUTURE LEADERS

Clear­ly, the gov­ern­ment doesn’t have any inten­tion of sup­port­ing the NHS; that’s if they want to stay in pow­er after the next elec­tion. The next leader who dares to be hon­est about rais­ing tax­es to fund pub­lic ser­vices would sure­ly gain the respect of staff and the British pub­lic. The mes­sage to gov­ern­ment and any future lead­ers is sim­ple: If you look after your staff, the staff will look after the patients.

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David Barrow

David is a Physiotherapist who has been involved in Professional Sport, battlefield trauma, chronic pain and the NHS. He continues to work clinically alongside his development role in Rehab Guru. David is passionate about Health tech to transform outcomes for patients

David Barrow

Rehab Guru Co-Founder