Bill Harvey: Get your hands off my stack
Author: Bill Harvey
The best way to ensure adequate health care, including eye care that is free for all at the point of need, is to ensure adequate funding. When the required funding is clearly not forthcoming, we all need to think about what extra funding is needed and where it might come from. For example, one fifth of the current NHS budget goes on track and trace, with daily consultancy fees costing a cool £1.3m.
I suspect everyone reading will be familiar with stories of creeping privatisation. Growing waiting lists for essential treatment, relegation of previously important treatments (such as cataract extraction) to non-essential status irrespective of sight loss, increasing lip service given to the importance of the primary care sector without any indication of how this is to be funded under the NHS; I could (and often do) go on.
I suspect everyone is getting used to previously unspoken options for privately funded queue jumping being made more blatantly. Indeed, I have some concerns that many newly qualified practitioners seem to think the ‘you could always go private’ discussion is the norm.
Surely, the worst way to respond to budget restrictions on free health care is a knee-jerk move to private healthcare provision. How disappointing to hear this week about a session at the Optix Software conference where four independent practices told over 300 delegates about the joys of going fully private and ceasing to offer NHS services. Even more disappointing to hear how this was well received by the audience. Yet disappointing still, an AOP poll shows 55% of respondents say they are considering ‘going private’.
Can this insidious health care apartheid really be justified when we hear of the vast sums wasted by the government? Don’t jump ship yet; demand better funding. An increasingly sizable proportion of the UK population is depending on you.