NHS England deals with more than 1 million patients every 36 hours, from repeat prescriptions and routine screening to accident and emergency cases and transplants.
A world-class service?
It’s popular to knock the NHS, but in 2014 the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that aims to promote better healthcare systems, looked at the healthcare provisions of ten first-world countries (including Australia, France, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland) and decided the NHS was the most effective, safe and efficient of them all.
The real cost of the NHS
The annual cost of the NHS is about 7.5 per cent of our GDP, lower than the spending on health care in countries including Japan, France, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.
In 2008, only 8 per cent of hospital trusts overspent. Latest figures for 2015/16 show that nearly two thirds are now in the red. Last year, there was an overspend of £2.5 billion. Eleven hospital trusts have an annual deficit of £50 million-plus, with Barts Health NHS Trust £135 million in debt.
The NHS employs more than 1.5 million people, which makes it one of the world’s five largest employers (the others are McDonald’s, Walmart, the US Department of Defence and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army)
What the surveys said…
The British Social Attitudes Survey has been asking members of the public about their attitudes to the NHS since 1983. In 2015, overall public satisfaction fell by 5 per cent to 60 per cent and satisfaction with GP services fell to 69 per cent. Satisfaction with social care provided by local authorities also fell by 5 per cent to 26 per cent.
Top reasons for being satisfied
• Quality of NHS care
• Free treatment
• Range of services available
Top reasons for being dissatisfied
• Long waiting times
• Staff shortages
• Lack of funding