The Future of the NHS

The Future of the NHS

Can the UK keep its promise of free healthcare for everyone? NHS spending is higher than ever, yet waiting lists are getting longer and patient satisfaction is falling. The worst of the pandemic may have passed, but weekly Covid admissions remain high and many services are still struggling. While many patients feel delighted with the treatment and care they receive, stories of missed targets, staff shortages and crumbling buildings are common. Whether its waiting for an operation, mental health support, getting a GP appointment or just hoping an ambulance arrives in time, our cherished and beloved NHS is letting many people down, in spite of the heroic efforts of its staff. The people vying to be our next Prime Minister have acknowledged the problems, but are not promising big improvements. Is it time for a new model?

Some believe it’s about funding, and we need to accept that the NHS we want and need will cost us much more. But in a cost of living crisis, are people really prepared to pay higher taxes to improve the NHS, and if not, why do we still expect a Rolls Royce health system? Others think it’s a bottomless pit of demand and it’s time to reduce our expectations. Can we afford the NHS to be anything more than a safety net for the sickest and poorest? Is it right to promise care to everyone, even those who can afford to go private? Or, might the public’s willingness to pay for the NHS evaporate, if it's no longer there for all of us? We may love our NHS, but how much should we expect of it, and how much are we willing to pay? With Tim Knox, Dr Jennifer Dixon, Matthew Lesh and Prof Allyson Pollock.

Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Peter Everett
Presenter: Michael Buerk