The NHS is a mass of contradictions. It is the envy of the world but no other country has tried to copy it. It is all that is good about us as a nation, but it is constantly in crisis. The NHS is perfect, but nobody is happy with it. People like the idea of it, but neither patients nor the doctors and nurses working in it are satisfied with conditions. There are big problems that too many are afraid to criticize, mistaking dissent for disloyalty. Sometimes the sheer mass of contradictions I hear in one day are overwhelming and make a rational analysis of the system nearly impossible. I have come to the conclusion that the NHS is as good as it will ever be.
All the problems currently faced by the NHS are the types of problems endemic in any socialised system. Problems including, but not limited to; needlessly long waiting lists, endlessly expanding bureaucracy, resources pooling in management, an insensitivity to the needs of the people paying for it, or the people working in it, and an inequality of care based on where in the country you live and what conditions you have. These are all problems typical to any socialised system. Whether it be farming, manufacturing, or health care. To be fair, the NHS works surprisingly well for a socialist system. Were the rest of the country not broadly capitalist, there would be no means of creating or funding a socialised health care system. It seems that the NHS persists because it is only with health care that people are surprised there are downsides to a nationalised industry.
It is, however, not just patients stuck on waiting lists, the health care equivalent of bread lines, who are dissatisfied with their care. British doctors are threatening to leave to go and work on the Continent and in the Antipodes, stating with their actions, if not with their words, that other health care systems are not just better to be treated in but to work in too. If the NHS is the envy of the world, why are so many doctors so keen to leave? We now exist in a bizarre Catch-22 where doctors are leaving to work in insurance-based health care systems who utilize the private sector to a much greater extent, but simultaneously continue to bitterly oppose the NHS being reformed into an insurance-based system which utilizes the private sector to a much greater extent.
The NHS cannot be made better without reform that would make it less socialist, and that would be a good thing. As long as we have the socialised health care system that we do, doctors, nurses and patients must bear the downsides of a socialised health care system too. Every British doctor who leaves the UK to work in Australia or New Zealand is a testament against the NHS, and reinforces that the unwavering, unquestioned support for the NHS is a form of political Stockholm Syndrome. It is time for us to see the NHS for what it really is, rather than base its value on the intentions that created it.
For Conservatives For Liberty, May 2016.