The National Health Service (NHS) is the universal healthcare system for the United Kingdom and provides more than 80 percent of the total healthcare services. It is largely free at the point of use. An 11 percent tax on employees and a similar one for employers generally finance it. There are some private providers that are paid by supplemental private insurance companies or by the patients (Bang, 2010). The United Kingdom is facing many challenges on how to support and improve the NHS so it may offer quality healthcare to everyone in an acceptable time limit. Some of these challenges faced are from the charged political environment that is struggling to find compromising solutions, the increasing costs in healthcare, and dealing with public dissatisfaction.
Politics and the Struggle to Reform
The government is struggling to reform the National Health Service. The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are facing challenges in finding compromise and balance between the healthcare system being completely nationalized and privatized. The NHS Health and Social Care Act 2012 sets to reform and be implemented by the end of 2014 (Harrison, 2012). However, the complexity and length makes it difficult to understand and alter. It has been argued that the constant back and forth has led to so many concessions that the bill is now too expensive and ineffective (Triggle, 2012).
The NHS is said to be the fourth largest employer in the world by employing about 1.4 million people. Many feel this is too large and at times bureaucratic. Some politicians want to shrink the NHS and encourage the growth of private health firms to increase competition and quality of care while reducing wait times. Others fear competition will lead to fragmentation of healthcare and will leave the poorest and most vulnerable at risk (Triggle, 2012). In efforts of fighting so hard for a solution, more problems have arisen.
Soaring healthcare costs are also posing a challenge for the system. Fifty years ago, 3.4 percent of the United Kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP) was spent by the NHS. In 2010, about 9.6 percent of the GDP was spent on healthcare (Harrison, 2012). The projected spending for the future worries many about the sustainability. The main reasons for these increases are due to advances in medicine, the aging population, and a willingness among people to spend an increasing amount on their healthcare (Triggle, 2013).
The British economy has also suffered from the global recession. The spending on healthcare has left a large debt that the government is working on trying to reduce by dramatically cutting public spending. Budget freezes are not allowing growth within the NHS. Although the NHS is trying to improve its efficacy and productivity to meet rising demands, the budget fails to keep up with the growing British population (Bang, 2010).
Public Dissatisfaction towards the NHS and...