In recent days the failing NHS has been in the news again. Senior figures in the medical firmament have given evidence to a parliamentary select committee about the workforce crisis. A hard-hitting documentary on ITV exposes the ‘reality’ in A and E departments. David Oliver (President Elect of the Royal College of Physicians) writes in the Financial Times about the existential crisis facing our beloved NHS.
Readers will be wearily familiar with the choreography. The curious timing and alignment of views for example. The consistent line that everything would be marvellous, and nothing would hurt, if the evil Tories would just hand over even more taxpayers cash to the wonderful NHS.
I should say at the outset I entirely endorse the view that the NHS is failing. It’s been failing for years – the current inflection point is an acceleration in the pace and breadth of failure – not a change in the direction of travel.
The Daily Sceptic team have asked me to contribute some thoughts on the factors behind the mantra that it’s all about a funding deficit. Before getting into this subject, I should issue a trigger warning – some readers may disagree with me. Some may be very upset by my opinion. Some may want to ‘call me out’ as a regressive dinosaur unsuitable to be a practising doctor. Some may want to professionally cancel me or revoke my licence to practice. Some may think I am an evil person and should be burned at the stake in the town square.
I write partly in jest. The readership of the DS is (or should be) committed to freedom of expression. Sadly, the medical profession is not so keen. I cite the example of Merion Thomas, an eminent and highly respected cancer surgeon – hounded by an outrage mob and censured by his own Hospital management for highlighting in the press the shortcomings of primary care in the U.K. That was over a decade ago, when society still pretended to tolerate dissent. Being consistently ‘orthogonal to the orthodoxy’ (hat tip Sunetra Gupta), I can’t afford professional cancellation, hence retention of the invisibility cloak.