It was good news that the government is intending to increase the funding for the NHS, a long overdue decision. It is disappointing, however, that they have rejected the suggestion that there should be a hypothecated tax to fund the NHS, despite the evidence that such a tax would be popular and that many people would be happy to pay more tax if they were sure that it would be going to the NHS.
Somehow they have managed to convey the impression that the NHS is becoming cripplingly expensive but they are trying to get us to forget that the reason that the NHS has been having such a difficult time is that it has been underfunded for the last eight years.
Of course the NHS is expensive but it should be remembered that, even with this latest cash injection, the funding, as a proportion of GDP is lower than it has been in the past, furthermore, it is claimed by those that should know, that it is cheaper, on a per capita basis, than the health services in all other leading western nations, sometimes costing as little as one third. The NHS is very efficient, surely we should ensure that it is well funded, rather than suffering the seemingly grudging support from our government.
Two or three years ago I wrote on this topic. I argued that, as people in the poorer countries became better educated and acquired access to the internet they would become even more aware of huge difference that existed between their standard of living and that of people in the richer nations. The natural tendency would be for them to decide that they wanted something better and that they would attempt to emigrate from their country into a western country. We have had a big wave of migrants (mostly young men) attempting to enter Europe and they have been encouraged by those with strong humanitarian sympathies. Angela Merkel effectively opened Germany’s borders to migrants, organisations sent boats out into the Mediterranean to pick up migrants from Africa.
Most people could see that there was no limit on the numbers that would try and they feared that, in the end, the very standard of living that the migrants sought could not be maintained and feared that, left unchecked, the end result would be to drag down the standard of living in the advanced countries. I suggested that unless some action was taken a decade on from the time of writing could see migrant boats being attacked whilst at sea. Certainly we can now see the growing opposition to migration from poorer countries with more talk of protecting borders. Merkel is at risk of losing power, pressure is being applied to the NGOs to stop operating a taxi service for the migrants and these pressures will grow. I suggested that it is up to Europe to do more to help the poorer countries so that life can be improved there and the desire to migrate reduced, but there is not much evidence yet that that is likely to happen.
Almost any organisation needs some discipline to avoid anarchy within the ranks, the danger, it seems to me, is that discipline which is too strong will stifle initiative and common sense. I think there has been evidence of this in our armed services in the past, I hope that is not so today. What sparked my thoughts in this direction was the inquiry into the Grenfel Tower fire. A fire officer claimed that he had not been trained to deal with such a fire and that the existing orders were for residents to stay in their flats. I stayed up that night watching the disaster unfold and growing ever more angry, quite early on it was possible to see the flames on the outside reaching to the very top floor and beyond, it was clear to any sensible person that there was no way the fire brigade was going to be able to contain the fire, yet still the recommendation was ˜stay in your flat”. I thought that there was only one recommendation to be made ˜get the hell out of there” you didn’t need to be trained to see that, but the fire officer was concerned that he would get into trouble for not sticking with ˜standing orders”.