Alastair Stewart blasts taxpayers can’t fund unlimited appetite of NHS | UK | News

The GB News presenter praised the National Health Service (NHS) for its resilience through years of crises but warned the coronavirus pandemic delivered a particularly hard blow. Estimates suggest waiting times for treatment could extend for millions of Britons unless reviews and reforms are not delivered promptly. Alastair Stewart said: “From its inception, the NHS has faced crises but survived.

“Successive Governments have fiddled with the structure and the funding model yet it survived.

“The brief remains constant – cradle to grave care, free at the point of delivery and that survived.

“But Covid has conjured up something different. The scale and duration of the pandemic seem to have posed intractable problems and now the Institute of Fiscal Studies warns that unless something happens, waiting lists could get to 13 million.

“That’s one in five of the population.”

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Waiting lists have grown longer during the pandemic as NHS staff efforts focussed on treating patients with Covid, with major operations and treatments delayed for months.

The GB News presenter continued: “It has hardly been starved of cash, yet the problems within the NHS persist.

“My own view is that the prescription does indeed need to be radical – I don’t think the model is still fit for purpose and the nation, the taxpayers that is, can’t afford the unlimited financial appetite of the NHS.

“First, and as soon as possible, a root and branch examination needs to take place of what the NHS can and cannot do, should and should not do.

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“Secondly, ministers need to accelerate the long-promised but never delivered merger of health and social care. Both are in crisis, and both need urgent treatment.

“Third, the financial model does need re-examining.”

Mr Stewart added: “There is a greater role for private ensures for those who can afford it to make free more taxpayers cash and capacity for those who have no such choice.

“It all requires thinking outside the box and it needs open and honest thinking from the political classes.”

Figures from NHS England released in early November have shown more than 300,000 are now waiting more than a year to receive treatment under the NHS.

Dr Nick Scriven, formerly the head of the Society for Acute Medicine, said hospitals have been working “pretty much on a one in one out” basis as they also face staff shortages.

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The report showed 12,491 people in England had been waiting over two years to receive routine hospital treatment in September 2021, four times higher than the number of patients waiting for treatment in April.

Dr Scriven said: “This is a system that is really struggling in all aspects of acute care despite everyone concerned doing their utmost; at times to the detriment of their own wellbeing.

“It is really concerning to see so many senior clinicians on the frontline so tired and worn down – I’m not sure how much more they have to give before errors are made or they come to significant harm.

“Hospitals are full and running pretty much on one in and one out of wards backing up to emergency departments and Acute Medical Units (AMUs).

“Many staff feel unsupported by recent attempts to alleviate waits which, although done for good reasons, provide no obvious recognition of current issues.”

He added “The public should not be misled by talk of cash boosts and gimmicks such as triage tents in car parks and believe these are solutions that will get us through winter – funding is ineffective without staff, as are short-term measures to reduce pressure.

“We need openness and honesty from those in power, to be frank with the public about how services may be limited and face up to the fact some really difficult decisions will have to be made in the coming weeks and months.”

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