British national health care model, represented by the state public health services, known since 1948 as the National Health Service (NHS), has been the pride of this country for many decades. All strata of the British society had access to health care, which was administered under the slogan “free and accessible.” This health care model, portraying one of the “achievements of British democracy,” was actively employed by London not only in its expansionary policy exercised in the developing countries of Asia and Africa, but also for the propaganda of sponsored by the US and Great Britain “color revolutions” in the countries of the Arab world and former Eastern bloc.
The health care model that exists in Great Britain today is financed with the money received from taxpayers in accordance with the progressive income tax scale. Each British pays the amount of taxes corresponding to the earned income, and the NHS provides free medical care in the scope corresponding to the needs of each particular patient. 82% of expenses related to the maintenance of the NHS institutions and 100% of wages paid to doctors, nurses and independent general practitioners are funded with the money of taxpayers. Voluntary donations, state insurance and income from commercial activities carried out by the NHS institutions constitute an additional source (18%) of NHS financing.
The decades-old state health care model distinguished by its well-established network, sophisticated hierarchy of management and control and a well-developed, transparent system of investment (including private investments), has been showing good indicators reflecting the state of health of the British population. For example, according to WHO, values of some core health indicators in Great Britain were equal (or comparable) or sometimes even higher than those demonstrated by Germany and France, while Great Britain spent less money on its health care.
However, the Conservative Party headed by David Cameron decided to put an end to this system and pursue an explicitly antisocial and antihuman policy not only in the countries that have suffered from British-American aggression, but also in Great Britain itself.
This fact has been confirmed in the recent statement made by British Health Care Minister, Jeremy Hunt, who raised doubts about future funding of the National Health Service. As the Minister pointed out in his speech unveiling a 25-year forecast for the development of British health care, “sustainability of the NHS financing can be compromised due to the growing demand for health care services among general population.”
As British Laborists have put it, Hunt’s recent actions and rhetoric prove that the government is looking to alter the system. This is why Shadow Minister of Health Care, Jamie Reed directly accused the Conservative Government of an intention to abandon the current system of free access to medical care. “In 25 years the NHS will simply vanish if the Tories are allowed to go on with their toxic plans pertaining to the reductions, expenses and privatization,” Reed added.
Researchers from the London School of Economics (LSE) also speak of the antihuman policy of the British government, pointing, in particular, at the disrespectful attitude towards patients in the majority of English hospitals. As these experts note, more than one million elderly patients over 65 years of age receive medical care of insufficient quality. For years, hospitals have been disregarding the needs of elderly patients. Nobody helps them even with their meals. According to the report prepared by the experts of the LSE, 23% of patients, which is equal to 2.6 million individuals, of whom more than 1 million are over 65, have experienced low standards of care and disrespectful treatment in British hospitals. One out of three patients unable to consume food on their own received no help. In other words, 1.3 million patients, including 640,000 elderly, experience problems with food consumption. Many elderly patients and disabled women, for example those who are visually impaired or hard of hearing, are more and more often deprived of adequate care, but for one reason or another, e.g., out of fear of being branded “a troublemaker,” which might reflect on the quality of provided services, they do not voice their problems and just continue suffering.
Research conducted by the experts of the London School of Economics is based on the data collected in 2012–2013 after the public investigation of the scandal with the Staffordshire’s health care trust, where it had been discovered that poor quality of patient care had, presumably, led to the deaths of hundreds of patients, resulting from maltreatment and neglect. In the course of investigation, the facts of “intimidation and subjection to suffering of hundreds of people” were revealed. Many patients were left to lie in their urine and feces for several days at a time. Patients had to drink water from vases; they were also given wrong medicine.
HealthWatch England—a state funded organization providing health care services, has recently prepared another report on unacceptable for a civilized and moreover democratic state conditions of patient care in British mental institutions. In particular, the report contains the description of more than 3,000 patient cases, including elderly, homeless and mentally sick. It is indicated there that the discharge of such patients from mental institutions is often unjustified. There is a case of a suicidal patient, who committed suicide after having been forced to leave the hospital and go home. As the authors of this research have indicated, patients with mental illnesses are often not even asked if they have home or a safe place where they can go to after the discharge. Mental institutions fail to provide physicians and field staff of social services in the locality of the patient with a treatment plan and the relatives of patients are not notified of their discharge.
As Head of HealthWatch England, Anna Bradley stated that the data presented in the report issued by this organization are not something unheard of. She has come across thousands of shocking stories about people who were deprived of help in hospitals.
According to the research conducted by the King’s Fund, unprecedented deficit of budget of medical trusts across the country is turning British health care into a “residual service” and this situation will only worsen in the future. Beginning from 2010, the management of the National Health Service has cut the funding of British hospitals by more than 2 bln. pounds.
According to the data of the joint research conducted by Trade Union Congress of Great Britain (TUC) and UNISON, the largest British trade union, starting from 2010, funding for the treatment of patients with kidney stone disease, sepsis, asthma and diabetes has been significantly reduced, in some hospital trusts by up to 40%.
Instead of directing the necessary budget funds toward social programs and public health care, Conservative Government headed by Cameron allocates more money for aggressive military operations in the Middle East and the procurement of additional weapons to please Washington.
Within the next three years, about 140 out of 1,400 physicians’ offices in London are scheduled to be closed as part of the health care budget cutting program. Reduction of the number of physicians’ offices is turning into a nationwide trend. For example, 656 physicians’ offices have been closed in England since 2010 as part of the consolidation of physicians’ offices program.
Hospitals of Scotland are unable to cope with the influx of patients who, in accordance with the legislature approved by the Scottish government, have to be diagnosed and treated within a 90-day term. As a result, the number of citizens, who have to wait for medical care for more than 12 weeks, exceeds 5,000 people.
More and more cancer patients in Great Britain do not receive medical care in the due time. In the past 15 months, many British hospitals have been unable to provide services to the influx of cancer patients, who, in accordance with the order of the National Health Service, have to be diagnosed and treated within 62 days. As a result, more than 20,000 patients are put on a waiting list to have a surgery done, receive their anti-cancer medications or undergo radiation therapy.
Current situation in British health care is far from what British Prime Minister, David Cameron promised in his pre-elections campaign. Should it be surprising then that anti-government sentiment in England has been on the rise in the recent period and that calls for a “color revolution” in this country are gaining momentum? There we have it! Plans for such “revolutions,” carefully engineered by Cameron’s assistants, could prove to be useful, despite they were designed for other countries.
Valery Kulikov, political analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.