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Thursday 24th May 2018

The future of the NHS

29th July 2008

The NHS is based on a simple concept which has lasted despite considerable medical advances.


"Universal, funded from taxation and free at the point of need" - these comments have been repeated by MPs for sixty years. The British population is in favour of the NHS, but will it be able to survive the same length of time in the future?

Doctors have said the health service will fail because the government will not be able to pay for an enlarging amount of treatments.

They have said the result will be "a two tier service" where patients would "top-up" their treatments with private care.

Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary for England, has tried to make the process illegal by banning care for patients who accessed private care.

He said: "A founding principle of the NHS . . . is that someone is either a private patient or an NHS patient."

Mr Johnson has abandoned the law in order to have a formal consultation about the issue.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers are keen for organisations which allow treatments to be available on the health service to "give their products the green light".

Julian Cole from Roche UK said: "Money can be released from elsewhere within the health service to actually fund many of these drugs."

However, if the health service did decide to give funding to drugs which patients demanded, it could prove hugely expensive.

Dr Sikora, Medical Director of Cancer Partners UK, has estimated that the cost of funding ten "currently unavailable" cancer treatments up would cost an extra £0.9 billion.

Niall Dickson, the chief executive of the Kings Fund, thinks that a "universal system" could be achieved.

"It's really a moral decision, whether as a society we decide we want to stay in all this together or we want start going our own ways," Dickson believes.

"There is no sign yet that the British people want to go their own way."


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