Teresa May sent a gift to the 70-year-old National Health Service (NHS). On the 17th, local time, the British Prime Minister announced that in the next five years, the government will increase 20 billion pounds of funds each year to support the NHS, and the corresponding funds will come from the member states that will not have to pay to the EU after the “Brexit.”
The NHS, born in 1948, aims to provide free medical care to British nationals. To date, more than 65 million British citizens have been or are enjoying benefits from the NHS. Taxes are the main source of NHS funds. As the largest project expenditure in the UK social welfare system, the NHS budget this year has reached £114 billion.
The British Health Service welcomed the new budget plan. However, in the view of the opposition party, the government is relying on the unexpected gains of “assumptions” to fill the expenses. Theresa May’s fundraising model is “not credible.” Paul Johnson, director of the UK Financial Institute’s economic think tank, further pointed out that the high “break-up fee” paid by the UK to the EU will consume all donations, and increasing taxes is the only way.
In fact, the shortage of funds for the NHS has a long history. The British Health Foundation predicts that the growth in medical demand over the next four years will result in a funding gap of £12 billion for NHS, driven by an aging population and rising treatment costs. On the other hand, NHS employees have long endured overwork and low wages, and the actual salary of British nurses has fallen by nearly 12% in the past decade. In February this year, tens of thousands of British people once gathered in the streets of London to protest the shortage of funds for the NHS. Health workers, trade union organizations, and social activists who participated in the demonstrations called for more medical health care benefits.
Earlier, the British government had proposed a “medical surcharge” program that imposes additional fees on all citizens from outside Europe who traveled to the UK for more than six months. In February of this year, the United Kingdom paid “medical surcharge” fees. The standard has doubled.
However, the shortage of funds is only one of the many problems existing in the NHS. The waste of resources and the inefficiency of the NHS caused by the huge institutions have caused people’s dissatisfaction with the NHS to increase. In May of this year, about 450,000 women in the England area did not receive an invitation to accept screening for breast cancer as a result of a computer failure and subsequently missed the screening. In 2013, more than a dozen hospitals in the system were exposed for a long period of serious negligence, causing patients to die without proper treatment.
At the same time, the NHS is also facing a shortage of manpower. According to the BBC, there are 35,000 nurse jobs and 10,000 doctor jobs in England. From the past, these human resources gaps have been recruited from foreign countries, especially other European countries. The stability and long-term contract guarantee provided by Britain is a big stack for recruiting medical personnel from various European countries. However, with the announcement of Britain’s departure from the European Union and its implication of the immigration issue as one of the important reasons for “Brexit”, this will allow NHS to recruit human resources in these countries. The “Financial Times” reported that in the past five months, more than 2,000 overseas doctors’ work visa applications have been rejected.
Therefore, the British media generally believe that increasing the amount of budget to the NHS is only the first step. It is even more important to fundamentally reform the NHS and make this system more efficient in terms of fund use and service to the people.