The Daily Telegraph
The Cabinet is incapable of the radical thinking needed to help the NHS
sir – Nick Timothy’s assertion (Comment, September 13) that “we need to raise more taxes” to pay for healthcare comes straight from the Old Labour playbook.
Having worked as a consultant in the NHS, I don’t believe that any government has got to grips with public-sector waste and profligacy. Even Margaret Thatcher failed.
It was recently reported that there are more people employed by the health service who have no medical or nursing qualifications than there are doctors and nurses. As a patient, I have found some of the treatment to be exemplary; some less so.
The basic problem with the NHS is that patients are disenfranchised. Radical thinking is required to solve this problem – but nobody in Boris Johnson’s Cabinet is capable of it.
sir – In 1993, when I was managing director of a care home company, the chairman and I were invited to the
House of Commons to speak to a select committee on health.
Our experience in the care home sector had made us aware of the huge problem looming over the Government, caused by an ageing population and the consequent difficulty in finding finance to meet the growing demand for care. It was apparent that the Community Care Act, implemented in April of that year, was going to hinder rather than help.
We suggested that a small increase in National Insurance contributions might be taken and ring-fenced for social care. We were laughed out of the meeting. If the idea had at least been considered at the time, we would not be in the dreadful state we are now. Anthea Burdess
sir – Introducing his plans for health and social care on September 7, the Prime Minister said: “Our National Health Service is the pride of the whole United Kingdom.”
As a retired general practitioner who worked for 41 years for the NHS, I do not share his pride. When I was in practice, I frequently felt embarrassed to be part of the NHS: embarrassed that I could not always see patients as soon as I and they would have wished; embarrassed that I could not arrange scans and other complex diagnostic procedures promptly; embarrassed that most of my hospital referrals had to wait months, or sometimes years, to be dealt with; and embarrassed that many other European countries were outperforming Britain in important areas such as cardiovascular disease, cancer treatment and the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
There are many talented, dedicated and hard-working clinical staff in the NHS, but their efforts are frequently frustrated by the stifling dysfunctional bureaucracy that goes with a nationalised industry. Until we face up to that reality, we will never have a health service that really meets the needs of the British people.
Dr Tim Cantor Tunbridge Wells, Kent