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The public shouldn’t have to shore-up our chronically under-funded NHS

PUBLISHED: 17:30 15 April 2020 | UPDATED: 14:31 16 April 2020

Rachel can't believe the public is having to make donations and fundraise to support our NHS through the coronavirus crisis  Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Rachel can't believe the public is having to make donations and fundraise to support our NHS through the coronavirus crisis Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Archant

Rachel Moore says it’s ‘too much’ to watch Brits fund-raising for essential medical supplies.

Can we get something straight? The NHS is not a charity.

The NHS is a government service - an undertaking to provide its citizens with free and universal access to healthcare from cradle to the grave since 1948.

It is funded by working people’s taxes.

If there is not enough funding to provide its citizens with an adequate service in the time of a pandemic - which has been top of the risk register for 15 years - it is because our elected politicians have chosen not to.

So why are people raising money for the NHS?

Giving money to fill a black hole in the NHS to absolve the government from responsibility in this time of crisis?

Because they care. Who doesn’t care about the safety and welfare of people saving lives by putting their own health at risk? It’s human nature and, when we feel powerless, we do the little we can to help.

But we are now paying the price for long term chronic underfunding of our NHS - and every pound raised to bail out the government is a pound denied to real charities who will be the real losers when life gets to a new normal.

The sight of 99-year-old veteran Tom Moore raising an incredible £5million for the NHS by doing his bit, completing 100 laps of his garden with his walking frame before he marked his century on earth at the end of the month was too much.

He is of the generation that can’t sit back and leave it to everyone else. Fantastic achievement for him, admirable, inspiring, incredible, awesome and every other superlative in praise of his altruism.

But it’s also a fantastic achievement for our government because his efforts shouldn’t have been necessary. And where exactly will that £5m go? To the staff or into the black pit of underfunding.

Laudable intent indeed but a centenarian raising £7m for an organisation that pays ‘consultants’ - and not the medical kind - six-figure sums for pieces of work leaves more than a bad taste.

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People (who have already paid their taxes) are not raising money for the NHS charities; for the ‘nice to have’ extras, but for necessities because, despite warnings by those doctors, nurses, health care professionals, organisations and patients that the services were desperately underfunded, and the added pressure a predicted pandemic that would bring.

Across the land, people are at home making masks and aprons to protect staff who should be protected, as the government claims it’s a supply chain issue and stocks ate on their way.

Relatives and friends of care home workers are providing personal protective clothing (PPE) to help because the government still imposes VAT on PPE in the care sector, despite scraping it for the NHS.

One care home manager said this week that she had spent £8,000 on PPE that had lasted her staff a week.

We stand on our doorsteps once a week to clap for the NHS workers. The workers denied a fair pay rise three years ago by a parliamentary vote.

A far more effective way to recognise what NHS workers do day in day out is to mount a letter to start a letter writing campaign to our MPs - especially those who voted against the previous pay rises - to recognise their efforts properly.

And I’m sure we’d all be happy to pay extra tax to right the wrongs of NHS funding. Half (53%) of Britons say they would support increasing the basic rate of income tax to increase spending on the NHS.

Health professionals warned last year that the prime minister’s £1.8bn for the NHS was well short of what was needed, and an extra £6bn might just redress years of budget cuts.

Prof Derek Alderson, the president of the Royal College of Surgeons, welcomed the additional investment but said the announcement was “like an absent landlord saying he’ll mend the shower, but the broken toilet, damp walls and dodgy electrics will have to wait.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said then the NHS was overstretched and underfunded, putting health services under unsustainable pressure and called on the government to close the NHS funding gap and bring the UK’s health spend in line with that of other European nations.

Nurses, doctors, health care workers don’t want to be heroes - they just want to do their job protected by their employer.

I loathe any war analogy, but would we raise money for weapons if government sent people to war unarmed and unprotected or be enraged because the government hadn’t provided them?

Probably both, like now. But one is so wrong.


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