Oldham GP - 'NHS future hangs in the balance'
Date published: 03 July 2018
Oldham national health campaigner Dr Zahid Chauhan
An Oldham national health campaigner has used the 70th birthday of the NHS (Thursday, July 5) to celebrate its dedicated and loyal staff.
But GP Dr Zahid Chauhan has also warned the public that unless they take greater care of this national institution, they could be checking into A&E with a credit card in their hand and facing bills of tens of thousands of pounds for a simple operation.
Chauhan warned that years of underfunding and a constant verbal undermining of the NHS could destroy free at the point of contact healthcare and introduce privatisation of health - by stealth.
And he argued that only public outcry for increased resources matched by people taking greater responsibility for their own health, could prevent British healthcare from turning into “a business, where making money is the first priority.”
Said Dr Chauhan: “Older residents of Oldham might remember a time when everyone paid to see a doctor.
"To me, a privatised system puts quantity ahead of quality and turns healthcare into a saleable commodity.
"This current government is gradually eroding our NHS with cuts and barbs at compassionate, hard-working NHS staff.
"We need to oppose this, and do more as citizens to take control of our own health and preserve our NHS.”
Private healthcare providers are becoming more and more aggressive in their marketing, offering online as well as face-to-face services.
Those include £11,000 knee replacement procedures and £28,000 heart surgery.
Online, barely regulated private pharmacists sell products such as antibiotics and antidepressants as if they were sweeties.
While Dr Chauhan values some public-private healthcare partnerships, putting the onus on the patient to pay would create what he says: “One healthcare system for the rich and another or none at all for the poor.”
Quitting smoking, adopting better diets and doing more exercise could at least ease the burden on the NHS, added Dr Chauhan.
“Life expectancy has risen dramatically over the last 70 years because of the NHS," he said.
"But with the Government unprepared to invest properly in public healthcare, demand has spiralled and we just don’t have the resources to cope.
"If we all took better care of ourselves, we could at least ease the pressure on our healthcare system.”
Dr Chauhan argues that all employees from GPs through to porters, paramedics, midwives, speech therapists and dental hygienists are feeling the pinch of Government cuts. They are also under added strain because EU citizens are leaving the service due to Brexit.
Indeed, Dr Chauhan believes that it is only the “stunning dedication” of NHS staff that has ensured the whole system hasn’t collapsed – particularly at crisis times during the winter.
“The future of our NHS hangs in the balance on this its 70th birthday,” concluded Dr Chauhan.
“Are we prepared to see it undermined by Government or are we going to stand up for its principles, its staff and its future?
"Thanks to our health service, life for many has gone on long after 70, it is now up to us to make sure the NHS survives and thrives for hundreds of years to come.”
The NHS is organising a series of events to celebrate turning 70. To learn more, visit: https://www.england.nhs.uk/nhs70/
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