There is no doubt that NHS is a source of national pride when it comes to healthcare. A large number of British people are really proud of the institution. But at the same time, the people are also anxious if it will be possible to keep the NHS in the way in which it is today. There are many persons who believe that even if NHS was a great project, probably, it will be difficult to maintain NHS in its current form (Jochelson, 2006). Similarly, the official statements made by the policymakers also indicate the words the fact that significant funding challenges may be faced by the NHS in future while it deals with the aging population of the UK and also the challenges posed by increasing health problems that are the result of lifestyle changes like obesity and also the challenges caused by the recent technological developments taking place in medicine. Recent studies have warned that if the spending of the NHS continues to grow as quickly for the next 50 years at the pace at which it has grown during the last 50 years, then nearly 20% of the entire GDP of the country will simply be spent on healthcare (Mosley, 2015). The austerity measures taken by the government to curtail spending on NHS has caused these spending to remain flat during the time when there has been an increase in the demands placed on the health service. Sir David Nicholson, then head of NHS had launched a program named "Nicholson Challenge" which required the health service to gather £20 due to “efficiency savings” by 2015, which may allow the service to continue with providing the same standard of care (Triggle, 2015).
All these circumstances point out towards the grim reality for the advocates of NHS in its current form, that the present funding model is facing problems. Hence, even if there are strong economic growth returns in the future, still there may be a need to have uncomfortable discussions regarding how the nation may afford to pay for NHS. This results in the question if the NHS should continue in its present form or if it should charge fee from the patients who are using its services (Telegraph, 2014).
It is very complicated question, if the NHS should start charging a fee from the patients who access the basic services provided by it. For this purpose, a thorough, nationwide debate is required before any such step is introduced. It is clear that strong arguments are present in both sides. It could be argued by the supporters of the idea according to which NHS should charge its patients that by charging a fee, people will be discouraged from using the services of the NHS, unnecessarily. This will reduce waste and it will also earn extra funding in the system that can prove to be highly effective in helping the persons who are dealing with most serious and expensive diseases (Kaur, 2013).
On the other hand, it can be argued by the persons who are against the idea of charging a fee from the patient's by the NHS that no person wants to be ill. Therefore it will be unfair to introduce the above-mentioned changes. Such changes will in fact, discourage the poor people from seeking the services of the NHS. Moreover, the people believe that they have already paid for the health services provided by the NHS in the form of taxes paid by them and their contribution to national insurance. Therefore, if the people are asked to pay for the services of the NHS, it will effectively mean that the people are being made to pay again for the services (Marx, 2016).
Another argument that may be given against NHS charging its patients is that once NHS starts to charge a fee from its agents, the fee may keep on increasing. An example in this regard can be given of the tuition fees charged by the English universities which support the situation that once the initial step of charging a fee has been taken, such fee is likely to be going up.
It is worth mentioning that the services provided by the NHS are mainly used by the older people. The result is that if a part of the cost of funding NHS is transferred from taxpayers to the users of the NHS services, it will basically mean that the burden has been transferred from the younger people to the older people. It does not appear to be a fair argument that the older people should be made to pay a part of the costs of using the NHS services, especially in view of the rising aging population of Britain.
The lasting popularity of the services provided by the NHS may mean that people would be actually willing to pay higher taxes if the system is kept as it is. There are a lot of younger people who will happily support the system if they have the assurance that the system will be present for them in times when they need it (particularly during their old age) even if there have been forecasts regarding the funding problems. Keeping in view, the pressures faced by the NHS at present, it appears to be inevitable that there will be further controversies regarding the way people are going to be for the system in future.
Jochelson, K. (2006) ‘Nanny or steward? The role of Government in public health’, Public Health, 120(12), pp. 1149–1155
Kaur, S. (2013) ‘Mumbles of a medic: No to Hopkins, Yes to free NHS’ [online] Available at: https://pegasuspages.com/2013/03/13/mumbles-of-a-medic-no-tohopkins-yes-to-free-nhs/ (Accessed 25 January 2017)
Marx, C. (2016) ‘The NHS must treat smokers and the obese fairly’. The Guardian, 24 April. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/24/nhs-smokers-obesefair-treatment-saving-money (Accessed 25 January 2017)
Mosley, M. (2015) Should the NHS always Foot the bill?. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/zqvhpv4 (Accessed: 15 August 2015).
Telegraph (2014) ‘Time for a grown-up debate about the NHS’ The Telegraph, 7 Oct. [online] Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/nhs/********/Time-for-agrown-up-debate-about-the-NHS.html (Accessed 25 January 2017)
Triggle, N. (2015) NHS deficits hit‘massive’ £930m. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health?34353408 (Accessed:15 December 2015)