COVID-19 has undoubtedly exacerbated the visibility of the failures in the NHS. This highlights the long standing debate of who’s to blame? The Twitter-sphere is littered with leftist, anti-Tory propaganda. Claiming that the Conservatives have single-handedly caused the downfall of Britain’s beloved healthcare system. However, looking back into its history we can see that this claim has its faults.
To start, the NHS was originally funded as a post war measure against a rise in diseases such as tuberculosis. The fact that it is still standing after over 70 years is an accomplishment within itself, however this comes at a cost. It’s framework has become rotten and needs to be replaced with reform, not excessive increases in spending. For the last thirty years or so, it has become increasingly apparent that the NHS is inadequate, despite an overall trend of increased government spending.
Leftist supporters rely on examples of Tory cuts to argue their case, such as Conservatives voting down pay rises for nurses in the Queen’s Speech of 2017. However this example is flawed; a focus of the Queen’s Speech is for parliament to consent to the government’s key objectives. This means that whilst nurse pay rises were not a priority in 2017, this is not to mean that the Tory government is against NHS spending. A steady incline spending during the past 3 years proves this point. During this recent Covid period, we may disagree with the decision the government made in 2017. However, we must not forget that we are using the gift of hindsight. To predict the effects of this global pandemic in January, let alone three years ago, would be all but impossible.
Labour is also to blame. Whilst they pride themselves on being the party for the people, it must not be forgotten that during the Blair years the Walness report found that Government spending did not match NHS inflation rates. Why did this happen? Labour had lost too much money due to ignorance regarding the deficit and as a result, party of the people was failing the public sector.
Overall, it is not the job of this generation to be taxed in an attempt to fix this institution with more money. A generation with a post global pandemic economy could not afford to do this. Instead, it is time that the cycle of throwing more money to the NHS ends, and sufficient reform is put in place to save what makes Britain great.
By E Preston