“The NHS Elephant”

When the NHS was formed in 1948, it was rightly heralded as a massive achievement in pulling together a host of different health services to produce a universal service freely available to everyone.  There was one holdout group that extracted an eleventh hour compromise – the medical consultants.  To reach agreement with them, Aneurin Bevan had to concede that some doctors could continue with their private work while still being employed by the NHS.

This reluctant concession has been at the root of many of the NHS’s problems ever since.  It created a mechanism for some doctors to earn more money and for wealthier patients to get priority access to care.  I believe it was the origin of long waiting lists because that created a reason to pay to jump the queue.  It helped develop a market for private health care.


It was “The Elephant in the Room” even before that expression was used.  It suited the medical elite and their affluent patients not to talk about it, but as health care has become more and more specialised, it has made some members of a noble profession look more like the medical Mafia, acting in their own self-interest rather than that of their NHS patients.  The average hospital consultant now earns £118,000 a year and can opt out of non-emergency work at evenings and weekends.  In reality, many consultants earn much more than this by working in private practice as well.

The universality of the NHS is rapidly disappearing.  The group of people who will be most affected by this are the elderly who are the ones most in need and least able to jump the queue with the wave of a credit card.

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1 Response to “The NHS Elephant”

  1. I am a little confused, and to some extent ignorant of the original history of the nhs. i was born in 1942, and the nhs came about in 1949/50, and todate has served my family and I well.
    with respect to elephants, affluent clientele and favoured physcians and consultants, I am unable to make comments.
    I must reflect in my education, and upbringing, which may differ from other opinions.
    I was encouraged to work and study to the best of my abilities, help those whom I could, of lesser abilities or social standing ( not to the detrement of my own family), but t0 integrate into society , work hard and honestly, and pay any taxes, dues or debts with respect to the persons owed.
    this has stood me I believe in good stead, and allowed me to reflect and live a balance life, within the social, and legal boundries of my country of domicile.
    I feel most strongly and object that a chosen few may wish to screw the social fabric of the uk and the nhs, and I trust they are in a minority.
    as to the solution of what we as uk citezens can bare, with respect to financial support, and medical excellance, I trust with my fellow citezens we are able to guide the politicians and clinicitions of the day to make a compassionate nhs reasct to our personal requirements. nothing is nothing, and we all must bare some form of costing to support the nhs in the way forward we envisage this service.
    it starts with childrens education both at home and in the school, we all have learn what is fair bargin in this particular set of events/case,

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