NHS Reform - A towering conundrum

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The proposed NHS reforms still pose too many questions for many people. Dominic Howard analyses pressures within the health service that need to be taken seriously

 As a nation, the fabric of our lives includes wet summers, the continued search for a Wimbledon champion, traffic jams, stunning countryside, a brilliant capital, hopeless train services and Sunday roasts.

Notwithstanding the digital revolution and abominations such as Glee, little appears to have changed in the environment in which our children find themselves and that includes the all-pervasive monolith we call the NHS.

Despite having had access to private medical insurance (PMI) for most of my working life, I have used it only once, finding the NHS to be perfectly adequate and, in fact, excellent in the areas of A&E and paediatrics.

Why? Is it because the quality of expertise is no different in the NHS?

Or that it's not about profit, but about the patient? Or is it an unconscious support for the NHS ideal that good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of income?

To some extent, it is all of the above. Yet for a short period when I had no company-paid PMI, I readily paid for cover for my family and I.

This was because I had already begun to question certain elements of the NHS. I had the usual concerns around waiting times and headlines about MRSA.

Above all, there are noticeable inconsistencies in the quality of care. People are becoming tired of reading about billions pumped into the system without any obvious benefit to patients.

As a nation, what we all have to consider is whether it is possible for quality and cost to be comfortable bedfellows, whether the coalition's NHS health reforms can work and what the implications are. Finding the answers to these questions is not easy.

So many people have different vested interests and perspectives patients, nurses, GPs, consultants, the BMA, the GMC, the administrators, the government (and Treasury), the private contractors, and indeed PMI insurers and brokers.

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