Born in crisis and underfunded, the NHS has been in crisis and underfunded ever since.
Planned by the wartime coalition and supported by ALL political parties and the Trades Unions, the National Insurance Acts, pensions for all and free health care were a wonderful vision, a reward to the people for the suffering and sacrifices of the Second War.
When the war ended Labour was in power and charged with implementing pensions and health.
It also had a lot of other aims, like nationalising industry, railways and so on and there wasn’t enough money to do everything and, sadly, the NHS was not prioritised.
The decision was taken to pay out pensions and benefits immediately, rather than building up a fund in the bank, a noble ambition but that meant the NI contributions got spent as soon as they were collected and there was no reserve.
To add to the post war problems the government had vastly under-estimated the pent up demand for free health care and had not thought that maybe they should build some new hospitals and train some more nursing staff.
We imported nurses, the so-called Windrush generation. Meanwhile, a proper hospital building programme had to wait until the 1960s when the Conservative government implemented one.
Since then any suggestion of reform of the creaking system is met with howls of outrage from the political left who immediately cry “no privatisation” and tell us that the NHS is the envy of the World – although, strangely, no other country has deigned to copy it.
Reform is desperately needed: examples of best practise turn up from time to time even on the BBC but they are drowned out by bad news and they don’t seem to get rolled out across the whole NHS.
I’ll bet a pound to a penny that extra money or not next winter will see the “NHS in crisis” again in the news.