We’ve all heard the headlines and news night reports about the NHS in Wales. For weeks and weeks all that has dominated newspapers and BBC News at Six is how bad a state our NHS is in. Growing up in a household where your mother has been nursing for 28 years, I have had an in-depth insight into the running of the NHS and the ways in which we all contribute to its short falling. So, lets start from the beginning.
At the time you were warmly huddled up in your mother’s womb, you were already racking up a bill on the NHS. One ultrasound scan costs the NHS 125 pounds and with the average pregnancy consisting of three scans the cost adds up to a staggering 375 pounds. There is no need to justify that these scans are necessary for the health of the baby and the mother. Then comes your birth, supposedly the best day in your parents lives. This again will cost the NHS 1,500 pounds – not including the cost of a bed for your mother for the duration of her stay. One day in a hospital puts the NHS out by about 200 pounds. Therefore, by the time you’re a week out you’ve already racked up about a 2,100 pounds bill!
All your vital vaccinations that are administered by the time you turn three will cost the NHS about 150 quid – not including the boosters that are required once you’ve hit puberty.
While growing up you encounter the odd cold and chest infection; leading to a multitude of antibiotics which cost at least 20 pounds a box, so on average by the time you’re ten, around 250 pounds worth of prescription drugs would have passed your lips.
As we enter the dreaded teenage years of puberty, mood swings and a lack of interest for anyone who isn’t a teen, we continue to add to our bill. Between the ages of 12 and 16, tooth decay is at its highest rate, and I know from personal experience that fillings will cost the NHS about 40 quid, if not more, and with the average 15 year old having two dental fillings that’s a quick 80 quid you can add to the pot. Self confidence becomes a huge issue during puberty, and those unfortunate enough to have crocked teeth will inevitable be subjected to the horror of braces. From personal experience, I was in braces for a year and a half, and have racked up a nice bill of about 3,000 pounds! Shocker.
As we move into our twenties and thirties we generally become less accident prone and healthier. Between the ages of 20 and 40 on average, we’ll visit the GP about 80 times, a cost of about 600 pounds. Not including the normality of collecting a prescription, add about another, oh say, 1000 British Sterling to your invoice.
As we age we put the NHS under more strain. By the age of 55, 1 in 3 people has dental caps which cost the NHS about 500 pounds, 200 being subsidized by the patient and by 65, 1 in 2 people have a full set of dentures costing about 1,000 pounds.
So on average, every one of us, by our deaths, would have cost the NHS 10,000 pounds or more. This is based on a healthy human who doesn’t smoke or ‘binge’ drink yet if you do one of these add about 10,000 quid to your invoice.
So, in Wales, the NHS will spend about 30 billion pounds due to the 3 million population. Maybe not a large amount in comparison to some other countries.
After weeks and weeks of constant slating of the NHS by politicians and tabloids, it has left many wondering if the NHS is in a fit state. There is no denying that the NHS front line staff are under immense pressures and strain and the majority are doing their jobs extremely well. However, how can we uphold these standards if our funding is being squeezed by Westminster. Nurses especially are feeling the strain. For many it is becoming ever more difficult to make ends meet.
It may shock some, but nurses are not on massively huge wages, but they are by no means working for minimum wage. Nurses in Wales were criticised for asking for a 1% pay rise while some politicians enjoyed a hefty 11% one. After fighting for what they deserved – and winning it – many only experienced a raise of about 180 pounds a year. Massive difference!
It seems all that goes on today is spending cuts. Ministers squeeze vital funds and demand savings. My mother, a dedicated nurse of 28 years, and her team, has recently saved Cwm Taff Health Board 71,000 pounds by prescribing medication instead of a doctor. How much more savings do they demand? Where is the money that has been saved going?
So, the NHS in Wales is functioning under a government that is fatally squeezing the budget. Where will the NHS end up? It is the opinion of many that the NHS will eventually become privatized and that we will pay through our noses for private insurance. Will this mean that the poor will be unable to afford basic health needs? Who knows, but for some reason, I don’t think Aneurin Bevan would even recognize his master piece.