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'The NHS is on its deathbed'

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'The NHS is on its deathbed'

Many Brits today would argue that our beloved NHS stands at the heart of our society. Created in 1948 by Aneurin Bevan, it has reformed the UK’s public health since its inception. Afterall, it supplies a wide array of services, has one of the best vaccine roll-out programmes and most importantly, everything is free. In fact, it may be one of the greatest healthcare services in the world! Or at least it was…

Back in August 2021, the UK fell from its rank in the Commonwealth’s analysis of various healthcare systems in other countries. It went from an organisation that kept the wellbeing of its patients at its core to a “cost cutting and target-chasing” disaster. The news has made it clear to us that the NHS may be on the verge of collapse and as much as the government wants to salvage it; we’re going to have to accept that the damage inflicted on the NHS may be irreparable.

One of the most notorious problems that the NHS faces today is the endless backlog of desperate patients waiting to be tended to. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the length of the NHS waiting list rose dramatically and hasn't fully recovered since. In November 2023, there were a whopping 7.6 million people waiting for care on the NHS, four years since the pandemic. Not to mention how horrendous the queues for beds have become, where at its worst, lead to ambulances lined up outside with sick patients because there is nowhere else to go. The repercussions of this entire catastrophe then burden every branch in the NHS, making it incredibly challenging for them to cope.

Unfortunately, hospitals have been running at maximum capacity for years, despite the risk it poses on patient safety. Like all of us, NHS staff are people who have their own hopes, worries and feelings to care about but due to the tremendous stress, have been pushed to their absolute limits. Despite working for meagre wages that barely covers the rising cost of living, many have poured their entire hearts into caring for their patients and have even gone as far as working extra unpaid hours to deliver this. But regardless of whether they put their best efforts forward, it’s simply never enough. Especially since the NHS has been understaffed and underfunded for years. With circumstances like this, many NHS workers that once adored their jobs have been forced to leave as the burden became too much to handle. In 2022, around 40,000 nurses left the NHS and there were around 134,000 vacancies within its workforce. And for those who haven’t outright left yet have resorted to going on strike, all in a cry out for help.

It’s become undeniably clear that the NHS is amid one of the worst crises in its existence. The system is buckling under the unprecedented pressure and will send the entire nation into peril if it’s not rescued. As much as we’d like to stay hopeful that things will get better, the government has failed them time and time again. History continues to repeat itself from the record breaking 660,000 patients waiting on trollies in 2011, to the NHS crisis of the mid 1990s, it’s as if we haven’t learnt anything!

Whilst many of us have accepted this as a “new normal” for the NHS, it’s been an adversity that they have been dealing with for decades. And with a growing and aging population like ours today, only time will tell when the NHS finally crumbles beneath all the overwhelming demands and breaks down for good.

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