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Sunday 20th May 2018

Rationing on the NHS?

21st May 2007

If the British Medical Association is serious about rationing treatments on the NHS, it might care to examine what is happening in Romania, writes Jeremy Laurance in the Independent.


The BMA has launched its plan for the future of the NHS in England with an indication that the future may be one where certain treatments are rationed.

Despite the massive investment in the NHS over the past few years, there is still not the money to pay for everything that is expected from a national health service.

The BMA suggests that the future may be an NHS that stops doing some of the treatments it currently provides.

But with that, comes a warning from the scenario in Romania.

The government there took a radical step to cut health spending by eliminating medical oncology as a separate discipline on the basis that cancer patients were not "economically productive."

This brought hundreds of thousands of patients onto the streets of the capital, Bucharest, to protest.

The BMA report was barely that radical, but the sentiment was to question just what the NHS should be paying for and if that would still include fertility, cosmetic treatments or expensive drugs for dying patients?

But such cuts would have minimal impact in the context of a national budget for the NHS of £90 billion, leaving the only option to continue spending or make the choices of the Romanian government

Apart from being inhumane, it would spell political suicide, explained one health commentator.

The BMA proposes an independent NHS board, locally-elected or appointed, to issue advice on NHS services and also set priorities. Perhaps a plan for local rationing?

The Conservatives rejected the BMA's analysis, while the Liberal Democrats noted that rationing was already a reality and commended the BMA for putting it on the agenda.


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