Readers panel: Do we need a public debate about the limits of NHS care?
At the NHS Providers annual conference in Birmingham earlier this month [Nov], NHS Improvement chief executive Jim Mackey said a public debate is needed to determine what the NHS can deliver given the current financial constraints, and that some forms of care may have to be ‘deprioritised’.
At the NHS Providers annual conference in Birmingham in early November, NHS Improvement chief executive Jim Mackey said a public debate is needed to determine what the NHS can deliver given the current financial constraints, and that some forms of care may have to be ‘deprioritised’. Nursing Standard readers have their say
Beverley Ramdeen is a senior nursing lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire
It’s about time we had a public debate on realistically matching NHS resources with expectations of providing timely care, such as treating A&E patients within four hours and performing non-urgent operations in hospital within 18 weeks. With the current strain on NHS resources, even the £8 billion promised by prime minister Theresa May between now and 2022 will not be enough to sustain the health service. The time has come for making tougher decisions and redefining the limits of NHS care.
Rachel Kent is a mental health nurse in London
I don’t think we need a debate, but the public do need educating about the cost of NHS care. It isn’t just about doctors’ or nurses’ time or the bed the patient is in, but the cost of procedures, equipment and food and drink. How many people fail to attend an appointment, or go to A&E for something other than an accident or emergency? Because the NHS is free at the point of need, people don’t seem to equate that no cost to them doesn’t mean no cost to the NHS.
Ewout van Sabben is a third-year children’s nursing student at the University of West London
Although a public debate would provide an opportunity to educate the public about what the NHS should and shouldn’t provide, I doubt it would make the government provide the much-needed funds to sustain the NHS in its current form. For care to continue you need to retain staff. To retain staff you need funds, and for funds you need a strong and stable government. Trusts are fined for not reaching targets – who fines the government when it fails to act?
Daniel Athey is a charge nurse on an acute medical unit in Sheffield
Limits already exist on the care available on the NHS. Reducing these further seems a logical step, as other areas of the public sector are also facing cost-cutting and reductions. However, any deprioritising of services would be unlikely to go down well with the public, and that is perhaps the reason it has taken until now for this to come up. A public debate would at least help raise awareness of the dire straits the NHS is in and the difficult decisions it is facing.
Readers panel members give their views in a personal capacity only