NHS Funding: The Fiction

Do you remember when Boris Johnson promised £200m to replace MRI, CT scanners and breast cancer screening equipment, and commitment to ensure “no scanner in the NHS is more than 10 years old”? It was a wilful deception.

On the most recent OECD comparisons the UK comes 31st of 37 countries on provision of MRI scanners, with 6.1 per million of the population. Only Russia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Hungary, Israel and Colombia have fewer MRI scanners per head.

And on CT scanners the picture is even worse, with the UK 35th of 38 with just 9 scanners per million of the population. Only Costa Rica, Colombia and Mexico have fewer per head. According to the Health Foundation Britain has less than a third of the number of scanners per head compared with Germany.

“We have calculated that bringing the UK up to the average number of scanners would require around £1.5bn in extra capital spending. Money for new kit alone is not enough. Staff are needed to operate the machinery and report scan results. It is uncertain whether this money can truly help create the extra capacity needed in cancer services given major NHS workforce shortages across the country”.  

Meanwhile NHS England is pressing ahead with its plan to privatise PET-CT scanning services, pushing through a contract in Oxfordshire in the teeth of opposition from all parties and the Tory-led county council, with more such contracts being rolled out across the country.

Conservative Press Release October 2019 “Last year we announced a record £33.9 billion settlement for the NHS – the largest cash settlement for the NHS in history – including £2.3 billion for mental health services upgrades. In August, we also announced a further £1.8 billion in new capital funding as part of our Conservative hospital building policy. £850 million for 20 hospital upgrades and £1 billion to tackle critical infrastructure backlog across the country, emergency capital funding requests and more”.

What happened to it all? Coronavirus? This is not only the biggest crisis to hit the NHS since its formation 72 years ago. It’s the biggest peacetime crisis to confront the British economy for 100 years. We fear for our publicly owned NHS. The commercial vultures are circling. Management consultants engage the likes of Serco, Sitel, and Capita. GP practices bought out by USA Operose/Centene with no public notice or debate.

Parcelled up and sold off. It’s a national scandal. And it might become YOUR local GP practice scandal anytime soon!

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