Rationing Healthcare in the NHS – Part II

A recent survey conducted for The Guardian newspaper outlines the true extent of the rationing of healthcare in the NHS.

Figures acquired by the newspaper indicated that the majority of hospital doctors and general practitioners believe that rationing is occurring within the health service for financial reasons.

As many as 86 per cent of the 749 doctors who participated in the survey indicated that monetary issues are driving this rationing process.

Meanwhile, 39 per cent indicated that rationing played a significant role in managing demand within the NHS.

Only 28 per cent of those surveyed offered what could be considered a legitimate reason for such a policy, suggesting that clinical evidence for certain treatments had changed and so they were no longer recommended.

The figures painted a sobering picture of the state of the health service, but other data generated by the survey was of equal concern.

Significant minorities of medics had seen restrictions on the removal of benign lumps and bumps (36 per cent), breast reduction or enlargement (31 per cent), varicose vein treatment (31 per cent) and cosmetic surgery (28 per cent).

Nearly 25 per cent of medics surveyed had experienced drugs are being rationed due to costs, with cancer treatments being cited by 13 per cent of doctors.

Nearly one in four of those surveyed had witnessed fertility treatment being rationed due to cost reasons, and 18 per cent had seen mental healthcare being withheld.

Yet despite this already alarming picture, rhe individuals participating in the survey for the Guardian are almost unanimous in the impression that the situation will decline further still.

Nearly 95 per cent of doctors who completed the survey agreed that rationing will inevitably increase in the future owing to the rising demand for care and the existing financial situation of the health service.

Perhaps the only crumb of comfort for the government with regard to its existing NHS policy was the opinion of doctors on whether rationing can be justified in at least some circumstances.

Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed opined that the NHS is correct to ration streatments because it helps the service survive financially, or because not all treatments should be funded by the service, or due to the fact that free NHS services can be abused by patients.

What can be said in mitigation is that the first of these three ideas should not necessarily be considered an acceptable justification.

It could rather be asserted that this is an indication that the NHS needs to attract much greater funding from the government.

The findings follow closely on the back of a National Audit Office report which suggests that the most basic GP services are now failing.

During 2014-15, 27 per cent of patients said it was not easy to speak to their practice by phone, up from 19 per cent in 2011-12.

In a time of great political division and conflict in the United Kingdom, it is increasingly clear that the NHS will be a battleground for the remainder of this Parliament and probably beyond.


Post a Comment