Is this the way to treat a national treasure - the NHS?

NHS Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham
NHS Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham

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THE British public have been surprisingly passive in accepting government austerity measures.

Surely this must change when they begin to see the effect of so-called ‘efficiency savings’ on our most precious institution – the NHS.

It struggles to cope with the mega-challenge of finding £20bn savings on the contribution we make to keeping our nation healthy– this to be achieved within two years.

Faced with an annual reduction of 1.5 per cent in the per patient tariff for each treatment given, our hospitals are at the forefront of this search for ‘efficiencies’.

And a national increase in A&E attendances has put a particular strain on resources.

Under the Department of Health’s bizarre ‘payment by results’ system, only 30 per cent of the full cost of an A&E treatment is paid if the number of patients exceeds a set quota.

So an emergency admission can result in the hospital losing income from a cancelled planned procedure as well as receiving only 30 per cent of the cost of the A&E treatment.

Inevitably hospitals are falling into debt – can you imagine the outcry if they were to start turning patients away? And yet our hospitals continue to perform wonders.

With an increase in the number of frail, elderly patients with treatable ailments and new technologies to improve our quality of life, we know that the NHS must adapt to meet new demands.

But surely change must take place over time with a realisable timescale.

And, if our NHS is to survive, surely we need to increase the NHS budget.

We must not allow austerity measures to wreck our precious NHS.