Editor’s comment: The NHS is flatlining under cuts

It is not a politcal statement that NHS spending story is next to a Brexit one.

It is not a politcal statement that NHS spending story is next to a Brexit one. - Credit: Archant

I promise I wasn’t looking to make a political point by running a story about NHS spend next to a photograph of a Brexit demonstration on the Ham&High front page of the paper.

But it’s worth saying that the sorry state of the Royal Free’s repair schedule proves there just isn’t enough money being ploughed into healthcare.

Our NHS is world-class and being proud of it is one of the few things seemingly everyone can agree on. We expect to be safe and well looked after when we need it, and the vast majority of people are.

But when it comes to the question of funding it, people suddenly have rather divergent opinions. Suggest cutting Trident, or increasing the upper tax bracket, and see how far you get at a dinner party.

Before anyone mentions the words “health tourism”, let’s remember that accounts for a whopping 0.3 per cent of NHS spend according to independent fact checking charity Full Fact.

We have to accept that we aren’t giving the NHS the money it needs to run properly. Unions have been saying so for years but stories like today’s front page are only going to get more frequent unless we sort it out. If the Royal Free spends the money it needs to on repairs, it’s got to spend less on something else. What does it cut next? I certainly don’t think it should be the wages of some of the most modestly paid lifesavers in the world – but the two stories should probably be read side-by-side all the same. So, too, should opposition to the Pears Building. So, too, should stories about public money being funnelled into the hands of private companies through lucrative PFI contracts under governments both red and blue.