In recent years, problems associated with the NHS have been rising. However, for many, it is difficult to understand what exactly is so wrong with our health system in the UK and to understand why it is so vital to our country.
The main challenges facing the NHS:
- Ageing Population
At the moment 1 in 6 of the population is over 65 years old and by 2050 it will be 1 in 4. Around 2/5ths of the country’s health spending is spent on those over 65. It is more costly caring for those who are older compared to those who are younger. This is due to the fact that people are more at risk of acquiring a number of diseases as they get older. Therefore, if we have an ageing population, NHS spending will have to rise. This being said, currently, the NHS is unable to cope in terms of spending and a line needs to be drawn between free health care and upholding an adequate standard of health care.
2. Growing Population
A growing population suggests an even larger strain on the NHS, around 8% of funding is used on newborn health care. If the population increases, even more money will need to be spent on healthcare. However, if we do have an ageing population, population growth may come in useful when caring for those over 65 in the coming years. With more people under 65 working, more money can be put back into the NHS. The Nuffield Trust (from this report) estimates that the ageing and growing population alone could mean we need another 17,000 hospital beds by 2022
3. Evolving healthcare needs
There is now an increasing prevalence of diseases related to obesity, diabetes and antibiotic resistance. The NHS is having to change the type of care it offers in order to accommodate the large proportion of the population who suffer from such diseases.
4. Medical Advancements
Despite medical advancements increasing life expectancy and saving lights, the sheer number of them means that expenses increase. Medical technology costs the NHS an additional 10 billion a year.
5. Loss of Local Services
The increasing focus on moving health care to focus on more centralised areas has led to a decline in healthcare for local areas. It is seen to be wasteful to have hospitals only miles apart from one another providing the same basic care, therefore there has been an increase in hospital closures. Many hospitals are being forced to close down individual wards in order to save on spending.
6. Privatised Services
Thousands and thousands of British people are now beginning to opt for private healthcare. Private healthcare is faster and many believe they are given better treatment. This drive towards private healthcare. Despite the move to private healthcare it can be said that the move to private healthcare has reduced the strain on the NHS in terms of patient volume. Is the future of healthcare, a semi-privatised NHS?
One of the most important ways to combat these problems is sorting out the underfunding and inefficiency of the NHS. If these are solved more money can be put back into the NHS to revive the healthcare system both locally and within large city populations. One of the solutions is to move patient care out of hospitals and into clinics in GP surgeries and in the community. But this takes a toll on hospital incomes, driving more and more of them into debt. Some hospitals trusts have even been put into administration over the last few years. Centralisation of services, as mentioned above is being used but this results in cutting wards and local hospitals in number, when with an increase in population and age, will not be effective in coming years.
The government has pledged to give another 8 billion into the NHS by 2020 and will also:
- “Save money by cutting more of the social care budget.
- But slightly increase funding for mental health.
- Attempt to decrease waiting times by guaranteeing access to a GP seven days a week, and appointments within 48 hours for the over-75s.
- However, they will not reduce the cap on the amount of income NHS Trusts can generate from private patients, which could have a detrimental affect on waiting times and pressure on services.”