The NHS celebrates its 70th anniversary today, 5th July 2018, with many people looking at the longevity of the institution, asking what it is that the NHS does well and what it may be falling behind in compared to other nations’ health services.
The report, ‘The NHS at 70: How good is the NHS?’ put together by The Health Foundation, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, The King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust, looks at how the NHS is fairing against 18 other nations and their health services.
Figures suggest that the NHS is lacking in certain services, including its success rate in dealing with serious illnesses, such as heart attacks, strokes and cancer.
This is evident in the number of people that are reported to die where ‘successful medical care could have saved their lives.’ Not only are mortality rates high for those attending with some of the biggest causes of death, the rates of child mortality at birth are still relatively high in comparison to other nations surveyed.
Whilst these do appear to be rather daunting figures, evidence suggests that a number of serious illnesses which the NHS is performing below than average in are seeing improvements. Breast, Colorectal, Lung and Pancreatic cancer patients are all receiving better care, though overall this is still comparably lower than other nations.
With that being said, there are a number of admirable qualities which the NHS has which cannot be replicated by other nations. For instance, since the NHS is paid for by the Tax payer, the service is readily available to all, meaning people are less likely to be put off seeking medical help as there is no financial risk. Fewer people in the UK are skipping renewing their prescription because of financial hardship and there is a reduced portion of the populations that are out-of-pocket by more than 10% of their income because of healthcare expenditure than in all other nations surveyed.
The NHS is performing well with long-term management of health problems, including diabetes and kidney disease. It is also above average in treating the mental health conditions associated with suicide.
Whilst we can see many areas in which the NHS requires improvement, it remains clear that the stark issue is the staffing crisis which is having a domino effect on the entire service. This has prompted one of the largest recruitment drives in the institution’s history. £8 million is to be spent on targeting 14-18 year olds on radio broadcast, TV and social media, in an attempt to get interest from the next generation of medical and administrative practitioners to run the nation’s health service.
Last year cuts to the bursaries for student midwives and nurses saw a 20% drop in applications. It is hoped that this new push will bring in 22,000 applicants for these roles.
This comes after the Home Office has removed the cap on Tier 2 skilled workers visas for doctors and nurses. This will mean there will be no restriction on the number of doctors and nurses who can be employed through the Tier 2 visa route, so the shortage can be filled by UK and international applicants alike.
We can only surmise what the next 70 years will look like for the NHS, but in the short term we can hope to see some fresh faces in the positions that so desperately need to be filled in a bid to secure its future.
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