How worry about being wealthy enough to

How many times have you worried about being unable to afford treatment when you are unwell? Here in Britain we are fortunate enough to not have to worry about being wealthy enough to afford a doctor, unlike other countries, where this can be a very serious problem for some people. However, with a tide of articles hitting the news every week about how the NHS is failing to provide a good enough service, we have to ask ourselves the question: is it time to turn off the NHS’ life support machine and switch to an option that is healthier for Britain? Firstly, let’s consider the financial side of the issue. One of the main ideas of the NHS is that it provides free care, but as Robert A. Heinlein once said “nothing of value is free.” The average taxpayer pays £4,666 a year for the NHS and it is set to rise to £5,283 per year, roughly £100 per week. However, the wealthiest 50% of the population pay 90% of the £185 billion annual bill, the richest 1% paying 25% of the entire nations cost. These figures could either be interpreted as unfairly disproportionate or as a fairer way of splitting the costs between those who can and cannot afford it. In contrast, in America where the healthcare is private, the average person spent £144.48 per week on healthcare in 2015, nearly 50% more than in the UK. This suggests that an 18-20 year old living on a British minimum wage would have to work nearly 26 hours a week just to pay for healthcare if we adopted America’s healthcare system. However, you would be paying for only your own healthcare and you would have more control over how the money is spent with a system like the USA’s. Having looked at the financial aspects, we should consider the quality of care that both services provide. According to a recent survey, 32% of people say they are not satisfied with the NHS. Most of the complaints regarded the waiting times, which can reach over 18 weeks for routine treatment, there is also plans on the horizon to introduce a 3 month minimum waiting time for procedures such as hip replacements and cataract treatment in case the patients “get better over time.” This is causing many people to switch to private healthcare where there are alleged shorter waiting times. As well as long waiting times there is also a large number of avoidable deaths in the NHS, each month there are 1,000 cases of avoidable deaths in NHS hospitals, the health secretary has called this the “biggest scandal in global healthcare.” However, Britain’s health service came first in the most recent commonwealth fund assessment, ranking first in areas such as: co-ordinated care, patient-centred care, safe care and providing effective care. On the other hand there have been more than 800 unexpected deaths in uk private hospitals over the course of 4 years, although this may appear shocking, it is significantly smaller figure than the number of preventable deaths in NHS hospitals.It is also important to look at the social effects of NHS compared to private healthcare. One of the positive effects of the NHS is that no matter how rich or poor you are, you will never be denied healthcare due to lack of money. In countries like the USA, going to the hospital can leave the unwell or injured in a terrible financial situation, and that’s if they are lucky enough to afford healthcare, a 2009 study showed that 45000 deaths occur every year in America due to lack of health insurance. However, some could argue that having to pay for your healthcare would encourage people to live a healthier lifestyle; the NHS spends £16 billion on just obesity related conditions and over £5 billion on smoking related conditions. A negative impact of the NHS is that people could take advantage of the free treatment, there have been many cases of the NHS paying for cosmetic surgery such as unnecessary breast implants. Also, since NHS prescriptions are free in Scotland, people can get free prescriptions of drugs such as antibiotics, over 30% of which are unnecessarily prescribed according to a CDC estimate. Not only does this cost the taxpayer a large amount of money, but more importantly bacterial infections are becoming resistant to antibiotics as a result, this means that a simple infection could become untreatable and potentially fatal if resistant to antibiotics. In contrast, American doctors have been known to preform unnecessary procedures in order to get more money out of patients. According to an article published by The Atlantic, a patient in the USA was told by a doctor that he needed an expensive and complicated heart operation, only to later find out that a course of medication and a diet change would completely cure him. Cases like this are very common and suggest that if the NHS was privatised, some doctors would take advantage of this and preform unnecessary procedures for more money.   In conclusion, having looked at both sides of the arguments, it is my strong belief that the NHS is vitally important. A Britain without the NHS is like a hospital without doctors, it simply wouldn’t work. It is unacceptable in this day and age for people to die because they do not have enough money to pay for life saving treatment, although this is not a problem right now in the UK, it would be the reality if there was not NHS. Although the NHS costs some taxpayers a lot of money, these taxpayers are the higher earning and therefore can afford to pay a higher percentage of the cost. We are very fortunate to receive the quality and cost efficient care that many of us take for granted, privatising the NHS would be a very dangerous operation. For these reasons, I think the NHS is without a doubt the healthiest choice for Scotland.


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