British Healthcare


By: Natasha Frost
Britain’s National Health Service turns 75 this month. It is in the deepest crisis of its history: flooded by aging patients; starved of investment; and understaffed by doctors and nurses, many of whom are so burned out that they are either joining strikes or leaving for jobs abroad.
Doctors, nurses, patients, hospital administrators and medical analysts described a system so profoundly troubled that some experts warned that the N.H.S. was at risk of collapse. In 2022, the number of excess deaths rose to one of the highest levels in the past 50 years, and those numbers have kept rising, even as Covid has ebbed.
More than 7.4 million people in England are waiting for medical procedures, everything from hip replacements to cancer surgery. That is up from 4.1 million before the pandemic began in 2020.
Context: The pandemic exposed a legion of problems that had been incubating within the service since Conservative-led governments began curbing budget increases in 2010, the start of a decade of austerity. Health care spending rose by an average of less than 2 percent a year from 2010 to 2019, compared to 5.1 percent from 1998 to 2008.
By the numbers: During those years of belt-tightening, Britain spent less each year per person on health care than the wealthiest E.U. countries did. Its capital investment lagged the bloc’s average by $41 billion.

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