Mark Dolan: Extra cash for the NHS will be nothing more than a sticking plaster on the wound
We got our priorities wrong and an extra 10 billion quid a year won't make any of this right.
According to reports in today’s Mirror newspaper, the NHS are asking for £10 billion a year extra, to catch up on the millions who have missed treatment in the course of the pandemic. I've got no doubt that the money is needed. But be clear, it's not the virus that did this. As with schools, the decision to close its doors is purely a problem of the NHS’s making.
The positive professor himself, good friend of the show, Karol Sikora is profoundly worried about tens if not hundreds of thousands of people, whose cancer diagnoses will have been missed. What might have been a swift procedure to remove a tumour or cancerous cells, may now be a developed illness, which for many, will be untreatable. And this isn’t only about life-threatening conditions. People that need new hips and knees, cataract operations and pacemakers, have all been left behind. The medical toll of the NHS’s decision to become the national covid service – including chaining the doors of GP surgeries shut – is one we will be coming to terms with, for years if not decades to come.
Our NHS frontline staff are faultless and we will never repay our heroes for what they have been through in the last 18 months. But the management of the NHS, and policy at the health department, is another story. Wards were reduced in capacity and asymptomatic doctors and nurses were told to stay home in their thousands, for months on end, which has led to this disaster. To reduce the work of the NHS was policy. A judgement was made, that treatment should be curtailed so the virus, can be controlled. But it wasn't successful. Hospital Covid infections have been a huge source of transmission in the country.
Back in March this year, the Guardian reported almost 41,000 people were likely infected with Covid in hospital in England, whist being treated for another reason. And the newspaper reports that thousands died, as a result of a hospital covid infection. So contain the virus we did not, but curtail other health treatments we did. And with a waiting list in excess of 12 million people, don't tell me that many more lives won't be shortened and lost as a result of this policy.
Aside from the now inflated national debt, an ensuing mental health crisis, a damaged economy and wrecked lives, perhaps the real scandal of this pandemic will be the non-Covid death toll. A decision was made to stop the world for Covid, a nasty virus yes, but one non-fatal to the vast majority of the population, thereby neglecting far worse diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes. We got our priorities wrong, we got the policy wrong and an extra 10 billion quid a year won't make any of this right.
Extra money will be needed, not just in the NHS, but in every major department of state. Where will we find that money, after months of economic damage from lockdowns? Do you see the problem here. We are seeking more money, from a smaller economy, and one now more heavily leveraged. And many of the voices calling for more cash, ironically, are some of the biggest lockdown cheerleaders. Sorry folks, you can’t have it both ways.
Of course the money will be found - more borrowed billions, on behalf of future generations. But extra cash for the NHS, will be nothing more than a sticking plaster on the wound, that we chose to inflict on ourselves. It’s enough to make you sick.