Many NHS patients who require non-urgent surgery are finding that they are faced with longer and longer waiting lists. Over 300 people in the South West have now been waiting for treatment for over 12 months.
In conversation with Janet Kipling on BBC Radio Devon, Stuart notes that this is because the NHS is under heavy strain as demand for resource increases.
“Fundamentally we just don’t have the kind of resources to be able to deliver the kind of health care that people expect. People with non-urgent needs keep getting pushed back in the queue as those with urgent or life threatening issues are given priority.”
Alternatives include signing up to surgery cancellation lists or paying for private treatment, however Stuart argues that UK needs to properly address this issue.
“The reason the NHS is under strain is partly because the population is getting older, but also because we can now do more things than we used to. When I was a junior doctor, if someone had a heart attack we gave them pain relief and we hoped that they’d do ok. Now, if someone has a heart attack they immediately go in, are catheterised, they put a stent in, lives are saved, and they have fantastic quality of life afterwards.
Stuart notes that ‘In terms of efficiency – the amount you get for the amount you spend – the NHS is at the top of the league table’. In order to preserve this, rather than finding a ‘magic money tree’, we need to reevaluate the level of priority and national funding currently allocated to the NHS.
“It’s about us deciding what we want for our population. Health is really important and we need a system that isn’t creaking at the seams. If we want our health service to continue to provide the best possible care, we all have to pay for it by redistributing how our national income is spent.
You can listen again to Stuart on BBC Radio Devon’s Devon Debates here.