Are healthcare services declining? This is one of the biggest concerns Britons share today. With the COVID-19 pandemic and its vaccines emerging, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) has been under immense pressure since January 2020. While healthcare workers have been pushed beyond their limits, they have helped to save a generation of British.
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The United Kingdom’s NHS is a source of pride. During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic on our shores, people paid tribute to the healthcare workers every Thursday evening at 8pm by opening their windows and pouring onto their driveways to clap and express their gratitude for the selfless work of the NHS carers.
While the NHS isn’t perfect in its entirety, some services have seen a vastly reduced funding pool which has resulted in these specific services declining. The private healthcare sector has stepped up to fill that void, but it has placed those services beyond the reach of some Britons.
The NHS requires an additional source of funding for 2021. With 1.6 million employees, the NHS is also the country’s largest employer. It has been estimated that the healthcare funding stands at £150 billion, and the Government has increased the budget by only £6 billion for the year while the costs are estimated to be £40 billion higher than that. As UK citizens, we don’t pay an insurance premium for the NHS; our contributions fall under our tax contributions. Since the 2008 economic downturn, the number of taxpayers has fallen and reduced this funding income for the Government.
This has meant that there are gaps in their service delivery for patients who need the best care. Longer waiting times have become a chronic side effect of this. It is reported that 4.2 million people in the UK are waiting for hospital treatment. With 1 million people visiting the A&E departments every 36 hours (pre-COVID-19 figure), the NHS employees are under severe strain. Care for mental health has been reduced. While the NHS struggles for daily services and care, such areas as mental health have seen a decrease in funding for such care services. This has led to a rise in higher mental illness A&E in-patients and accidents.
On the other hand, the incredible roll-out of vaccinations has seen hundreds of thousands of people being vaccinated against COVID-19 each week. Other areas where the NHS has strengthened is for cancer treatment. There are now declining rates of cancer-related deaths, but of course much work is still left to be done. Infant mortality rates have decreased almost hundred-fold in the last 3 decades, too.