Jewel in our Crown or Thorn in our Side, Part 2—Is the NHS Too Sick to Save?

The earlier debate is here.

The United Kingdom is an island nation with a dense and diverse population of little over 67 million. It is the only country in the world to offer a state-run, free-at-the-point-of-contact ‘health service’. Over the years, the UK Government has sold off NHS assets, sold out to public-private partnerships, and fused health with security. As Public Health England was buried, the United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA), was created. When did health become a security issue? Is the NHS working in the best interests of those it seeks to serve, or has it become a ‘conditional health service’, irrelevant of age or gender Is it a postcode lottery? Is the NHS making us better or making us sick?

As winter fast approaches, the National Health Service is certainly far from healthy. With ‘new Covid–19 variants’ just around the corner, it would appear some scientists and experts are in favour of bringing back similar restrictions to those imposed in 2020/2021. Is this necessary, and how will it impact the NHS, which is in chaos? Are we ‘papering over the cracks’?

It is open to question whether the NHS is fit for purpose. Are patients safe in the NHS? Are the staff safe? What does ‘safe’ mean in a British healthcare setting in 2023? Will patients be treated with respect, kindness, compassion and given the dignity every human being deserves, or—as many anecdotal reports suggest—the reverse, where patients are being spoken down to, blamed, chastised, humiliated and made to feel a burden on an overstretched NHS? Some are not being fed or offered drinks, whilst others remain isolated from their loved ones, alone and vulnerable. Are patients’ concerns and complaints being listened to? Are whistleblowers being threatened and silenced? Where does our data go?

What used to be a health service that was run by medical clinicians and matrons is now being run by managers who may or may not have any management experience in a clinical setting. The Lucy Letby case has raised many concerns over regulation of NHS managers, but do the ‘regulators’ work, and who is regulating the regulators? Who is running our hospitals?

What has gone wrong? Why are our home-grown doctors and nurses leaving our shores in their droves? Who is replacing them, and from where? Is a career in medicine in 2023, a vocation or just a job?

The debate continues as Debi Evans is joined once again by;

Roy Lilley, Health Policy Advisor, former chairman of Homewood NHS Trust in Surry and former mayor. Roy has written for the Guardian, the Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph, amongst others. As a policy advisor and visiting fellow at Imperial College, London, he helped start the Health Services Management School at Nottingham University and was founder of the Federation of NHS Trusts, which has become today’s NHS Confederation. Roy’s e-Letter is received by over 300,000 managers working in the NHS and overseas. He is the co-author with Ed Smith of 200 Questions for the future of the NHS… and the elephant in the room.

Dr Duncan White, Nursing and Care Systems Consultant, challenges concepts about privatisation of the NHS. Starting his career as a Registered Nurse, he worked his way up to executive level in acute medicine and psychiatry. He has worked in the healthcare industry at home and abroad, so has a wide range of experience and knowledge in global healthcare systems. Duncan has also worked with the Department of Health, the Department of Business, the Care Quality Commission and Skills for Care