If the founder of the NHS, Aneurin Bevan, could see the state of the National Health Service today, what would he think? Let us, not forget, that it was a Labour government in 1945 that founded both the NHS and the Welfare State. It was at a time when people coming back from the war and at home, wanted something different. They had had the austerity of the Conservative-Labour government and now with the war over, people were looking for an alternative. People wanted something to reward all their suffering and going without. Come, the 1945 general election, Labour under Clement Atlee offered that alternative. So, Labour won a landslide general election, kicking Winston Churchill, out of office. So, the NHS, free at the point of entry, was born and was successful, in the coming decades.
Is the NHS, still fit for purpose today? Does the model that worked for most of the time since 1945, need updating? Does it need to be deconstructed, root and branch, and modernised for our times? Certainly, the NHS has been underinvested in by both Conservative and Labour governments, over the years. It has faced partial privatisation when both parties have been in government. Although, one would suspect, that the Tories have invested less in the NHS, than Labour. Either way, the NHS has suffered under both administrations.
During the lockdown, with the pandemic, the NHS was tested more than it had ever been. NHS staff proved to be the soldiers, in the struggle, against the deadly virus. NHS staff also paid the ultimate price along with many in the general population.
A report by the King's Fund would suggest that the NHS is on "its knees". The NHS according to their statement, "is buckling" because of overstretched staff. The COVID pandemic has not helped, though admittances for this, are lower. People are waiting longer for treatments because of COVID taking such prominence. People are waiting longer for ambulances when they dial 999.
The King's Fund has stated that 5.8 million are waiting for treatment. This is the highest since August 2007. The number of people waiting more than 52 weeks stood at 300,566 in September. Up from 292,138 in previous months. And, more than 139,545 in September 2020.
Deborah Ward, Senior Analyst, at the King's Fund, was the person who said the NHS is "on its knees".
Now with Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, announcing that those in the NHS, must take a COVID shot, (whether they want to or not), there could be trouble ahead. It is understandable, why Mr Javid would impose this on NHS workers. To protect themselves and those people, they care for. However, there may be mass resignations from the NHS. Especially, from those with an ethnic minority background, anti-vaxer staff, and those who do not want to take the jab for faith reasons. Of course, all views and opinions must be respected. However, where do you draw the line between keeping NHS staff and their patients safe and their right to hold an opinion against the vaccine? Labour is backing Javid's stance, however, they say the conditions in which NHS workers are put, should be understood and acknowledged, in return for them getting the jab.
Winter is approaching and the NHS will be exceptionally busy, not only with COVID but with influenza. Together with all other ailments known to man. The NHS as it is today is far from perfect, however, those that work on the frontline need our highest respect and prayers, at this time.