The Sustainable Healthcare Philosophy
How you can protect the National Health Service while getting first-class service at the drop of a hat.
During the last five years, an extra 4,000 people have been turning up to Accident Emergency departments across the country every day.
In 2019, demand for public hospital services continued to rise. So did waiting times. A&E show-ups went up by 5% in just one year. Waits for diagnostic tests were at their longest since 2008, with 4.2% of patients waiting more than six weeks for testing.
(Doesn’t sound too bad until you discover that the target is <1%.)
The current waiting list for consultant-led treatment stands at 4.57 million people; 44% more than in 2015.
That’s a lot of pressure on the NHS.
And we watch with sadness as medical professionals grow more and more unhappy with their situation: overworked, under-resourced and often unable to provide the care that the NHS is designed to provide.
The country is draining the resources of the NHS, and there’s no sign of us letting up any time soon.
This feeling of failure is hard to stomach. It hurts families when they’re most in need. It’s not sustainable.
But there is something that responsible people in the UK can do to ease the pressure, to help shoulder the burden of our beloved NHS.
Should we pay more taxes?
Should we scrap the NHS and start again?
We don’t think either of those answers is the right one. We’d never be able to pay enough tax to bring the NHS back to where it once was. And what’s the point in replacing the service entirely when the only thing that would change is the people in charge, the stakeholders – and the bigger bill for the taxpayer?
The problems that the National Health Service is facing are too complex for either of these suggestions.
But at Sustainable Healthcare, we believe there’s one straightforward solution that’ll make all the difference.
There are two things the NHS is good at…
Now if there’s one thing that we’re all agreed, it’s that the NHS has historically been very good at treating cancer and dealing with emergencies. You need only a whiff of suspicion of having the dreaded C-word, and you’ll be fast-tracked through all the systems to get a diagnosis and start treatment.
But sadly the stats show that waiting times in these areas are getting worse too, as resources continue to be spread too thinly across the entire health service. And that’s not sustainable either.
So why aren’t we giving the NHS the space it needs to keep being good at cancer and emergencies?
By reducing the pressure on other areas of the NHS – the areas that are typically the ones with the longest waiting lists and the most complaints – we can take the first step towards a futureproof health service.
Responsible individuals have the power to remove the burden on the NHS by merely refusing to consume the services that are struggling. We’re talking areas like screenings, non-life-threatening operations, aftercare and check-ups.
If you have the means to get those services elsewhere, then you should.
“But I’ve already paid into the NHS – why shouldn’t I make the most of it?”
Sure you’ve paid in. We all have!
But are you making the most of it if you’re sitting on a waiting list for 18 months, while your condition or complaint deteriorates?
Are you making the most of it if you turn up to the ward after months of waiting for your op, only to find that your bed’s been given over to an emergency patient?
Are you making the most of it if you have to use annual leave to fit in with unmoveable aftercare appointments?
Many have that outlook; that if you’ve already paid for something in your taxes, then you may as well use it. But, right now, your tax money isn’t solving the problems faced by service areas other than emergencies and cancer.
And the likelihood is that you’ll feel that reality when it’s your turn to sit on the waiting list or hang around for hours to get a bed.
However willing you might be to pay more tax, it’ll never be enough to solve the NHS’s plethora of problems. For starters, the Government doesn’t ringfence taxpayers’ money so there’s never going to be any guarantee that by paying more tax, the NHS will receive more funding.
But if you would be willing to pay more, or if you’ve expressed that view in the past, why not explore another option? An option that would guarantee you a reliable service; the exact healthcare you need, exactly when you need it.
Not everyone realises quite how simple this sustainable solution that’ll safeguard our health service is.
But that’s the beauty of it. It is simple. And easy. And extremely accessible for many, many people. And I’m going to spell it out for you in plain text. All you do is…
…Take out private medical insurance.
Hear me out, because the good points to private medical are very, very good indeed.
Ask your GP to refer you to a private expert or specialist consultant for a second opinion or more specialised treatment.
Shorter waiting times
Get seen within a week of your GP’s referral and have tests arranged within a matter of days.
Your choice of surgeon and hospital
You should be able to select your preferred surgeon and hospital and choose the times and places that you’re treated.
A comfortable experience
You avoid awkwardness and uncomfortable moments as you receive care in a private room, away from an open ward.
The scans you want when you want them
NHS scans can get delayed or might not even be permitted in the first place, but private medical protection would cover the cost of a private scan.
Specialist drugs and treatment
Expensive drugs or treatments that haven’t been approved by NICE or SMC won’t be available on the NHS. But if you need them, you get them when you go private.
Physio when you need it
Waiting lists for physiotherapy run as long as four months if you wait for NHS treatment. You’ll get quicker access to the sessions you need with private care.
In other words, you’ll get back to fighting fit much quicker than you would by relying on the NHS, you’ll be in the control seat throughout and you’ll be a whole lot more comfortable too.
“But I can’t afford it!”
Sure, not everybody can afford private healthcare. And those are the people who the NHS should be there for.
But are you sure that you can’t? Or would “I don’t want another monthly payment to make” be more appropriate?
If that’s the case, then here’s the good news: private medical insurance probably doesn’t cost as much as you think.
The average daily cost for a family premium is comparable to the Cappuccinos that most of us end up succumbing to in the Starbucks and Costa drive-throughs popping up all over the land (No need to go into the other benefits of swapping the caffeine and calories for private healthcare, obviously.)
And for many, the monthly payment works out at far less than that; from as little as just £26 per month.Contrast that investment to what would happen if you weren’t able to work and the financial loss that would inevitably result, or if you had to pay a lump sum for a costly operation (self-insurers, click here for a reality check) – and there’s no real comparison.
“But I’ve already got protection.”
If you’ve got a mortgage or dependents to think of, the likelihood is that you’ve already taken out life insurance or critical illness cover. And if you can afford that money for life insurance – which, by the way, you won’t derive any benefit from while you’re still alive – then would you not be able to find a way to pay for private medical insurance too?
Because having private medical insurance is the thing that’s going to make all the difference if you find yourself in need of treatment.
And while life insurance is, of course, crucial for any homeowner or parent, it’s not going to help you get your operation sooner, or fast-track you to the right consultant. It’s not going to help you at all.
Plenty of people have already cottoned onto that fact, and that’s why many take out critical illness protection on top of life insurance. Makes sense: you want to know your loved ones will be ok after you’re gone but that while you’re still here, you’ll be ok too.
But does critical illness protection make the most sense?
The thing with critical illness insurance is that it pays out a lump sum. So if you got seriously unwell – say you had a stroke, found out you had cancer or needed an operation – you’d receive one tax-free pay-out. Then you choose the way you use it; to cover your mortgage or rent, to deal with living expenses or make adjustments to your home, or to pay for any treatment you might need.
What critical illness cover doesn’t do is get your operation done within a week.
It’s unlikely that it’ll cover your treatment, your aftercare, and compensate your loss of earnings at the same time too. The chances are that your critical illness cover would get wiped out if you used it to pay for the necessary operation privately.
But private medical insurance? That’ll give you the fastest route to recovery, to getting back to normal, and to earning money for your family again.
(Click here to find out more about the pros and cons of critical illness cover versus private medical insurance.)
Not only would a private healthcare revolution ease pressure on the NHS and give it the space it needs to keep being great at the things it’s already great at, but it’d also leave you better off if things got tough too. So:
If you want to take back control over your health and care…
If you want to cut out waiting times for scans, treatments and physio…
And if you don’t want to let illness stop you from providing for your loved ones…
Private medical insurance is the way to go.
Right now, private medical insurance is the most sustainable solution for your healthcare and protecting the NHS.
Getting treatment more quickly is merely the cherry on top. The question is, are you going to join the revolution? If you can afford it, why wouldn’t you?!