From the outset of the pandemic, the theme from within government has been to protect the National Health Service (NHS) from being overwhelmed. In the face of the many unknowns it was an understandable, pragmatic stance to take in order to be able to continue treating as many people as possible. However as time moved on and as people with non Covid-19 ailments found that their treatments were cancelled then one started to wonder whether the NHS is there to protect the individual or vice versa?
That raises the question as to what the nation actually expects from the NHS? Indeed, apart from the period in the run up to the establishment of the service, has there ever been a national debate about what we expect from publicly funded medical teams? At first glance it would seem to be simple, i.e. keep every individual fit and well for as long as possible but just how far does that go and what can the nation honestly afford? The NHS is already a huge entity with unfathomable budgets to an outsider and is almost inevitably inefficient in some parts. One might also wonder just how accountable the organisation is or could be? In much the same vein there have been questions about drug research capacity, associated manufacturing resources and staffing. Rightly or wrongly, one could take the view that successive governments have, over many years, either not had a clear image of what the NHS should be and / or dealt with national health matters on a piecemeal basis.
Clearly the NHS is unlikely to change in the immediate future as it continues to deal with the pandemic and eventually try to return to some sort of normality. However, it seems to be a strong case for developing a clear national strategy.