Dear to the heart of the British, in three letters? HRH or NHS, your choice. But Her Royal Highnessthe Queen of England, is no longer of this world and the National Health Service, the national health service, is in a sorry state. Despite its dilapidation, the country’s affection for the public, free hospital is undeniable – as one would cherish the last shred of the welfare state. In the midst of the Covid-19 turmoil, we tore off the T-shirt with three white letters tilted on a blue background, the NHS logo since the 1990s. Yet it was during this pandemic that many cancer patients did not have could not be diagnosed or treated in time. And the disease took over.
If it is not good to be cancerous anywhere, England knows one of the worst situations in Europe. This “lack of treatment”, despite the Cancer plans of 2001, 2007 and 2015, is the subject of many statistics. Their sad common point is that, for ten years, the objectives have never been met, in particular that of the sixty-two-day delay between the moment when a general practitioner suspects cancer in a patient and the moment when the latter begins treatment or undergoes an operation. The ambition of not exceeding thirty-one days between the proven diagnosis and the start of treatment is not satisfied either. There have never been in the country, all pathologies combined, so many patients waiting for care.
Tim Gardner, a seasoned Health Foundation analyst and former health ministry official, places the turning point in 2015, when the Conservative government of David Cameron decided to curb investment in public hospitals. A few months later, the NHS announced that it would no longer reimburse certain cancer drugs, based on a chilling state calculation: an additional year of life should not cost more than 30,000 pounds (40,000 euros at the time) .
The height of cynicism came during the Brexit campaign in 2016, when conservative supporters of leaving the European Union (EU) launched red buses on the roads flanked by this slogan: “We send 350 million pounds every week [435 millions d’euros] to the European Union. Let’s fund the NHS instead. » Of course, not an extra penny went to the public hospital. But the Brexiteers won, illegally using the NHS logo.
Swap the NHS for Uber
“On the one hand, the population is aging, so there are more and more cancers. On the other hand, there is less and less investment, personnel and infrastructure. The inexorable decline in NHS performance has obviously accelerated during Covid-19”, summarizes Tim Gardner. Even the nurses of the Royal College of Nursing, a powerful professional organization, have promised a strike before the end of the year, which is extremely rare in a century-old history. Many live below the poverty line.
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