NHS staffing cuts, ward photo Yuya Tamai (Creative Commons), composite James Ivens

NHS staffing cuts, ward photo Yuya Tamai (Creative Commons), composite James Ivens   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

‘Harriet Ryman’, NHS nurse

Rationing in the NHS is already widespread and dangerous.

Last issue, the Socialist reported that ‘NHS chiefs warn cuts mean rationing or charges‘. But delaying or denying care is already happening.

A recent Guardian survey found three in four doctors said they had seen care rationed. Areas like speech therapy and varicose vein operations were being rationed or denied altogether. Patients are told to wait unacceptable lengths of time for care, or denied it.

Rationing healthcare is a false economy. It can put even more pressure on the NHS and social services. Conditions left untreated inevitably get worse and harder to treat.

One example is making a patient wait for a hip replacement operation. This can cause deterioration of joint tissue and progression to osteoarthritis. The result is chronic pain and reduction in the patient’s ability to function in society.

Delays in mental healthcare lead to increased risks of patients harming themselves or others. According to the Samaritans, female suicide rates in the UK have increased by 8.3%.

This situation is one consequence of establishment politicians’ strategy of deliberate under-funding, depleting services and then driving privatisation as the ‘solution’.

The only real solution is a fully publicly owned, properly resourced NHS, delivered by well-paid, properly trained staff, with all privatised services taken back into public ownership under democratic control.


According to the Telegraph, NHS spending on management consultants has doubled in a period when the NHS is not getting any real-terms funding increases. The Mirror revealed in March that the number of NHS managers has leaped by more than three times the rate of frontline health staff.

There are moves to cut and centralise NHS services across the UK. Some managers even look to discriminatory criteria like obesity and smoking to justify excluding patients.

Child and adolescent mental health services have been reduced by 94% in some parts of the country. Anyone without a clear diagnosis will not get access.

One in ten children will suffer a mental health problem, and three quarters of those will go without treatment. Ultimately this will lead to a wave of unnecessary added pressure on adult mental health services and society as a whole.

At the same time, senior ‘administrators’ enjoy six-figure salaries as part of a burgeoning growth in ‘advisory panels’ and ‘funding panels’. Their contribution to healthcare is to block experienced staff from accessing services for vulnerable people.