Since 2019 spending on the NHS has grown by 12%. At the same time the number of doctors has risen by 13%. The number of nurses has risen by 11%.
And yet it is treating 5% fewer people.
How can this be?
Well there are a number of reasons. Most notably while we were giving the NHS ever increasing sums of money, local authorities were bearing the brunt of cuts to finance. At the same time demands on local authority for social care were escalating and placing councils under significant pressure. What we are seeing is delayed discharges as care packages were not in place for elderly residents. This means that fewer beds are available for other treatments. It is adding to longer waiting times for ambulances as there are no beds for patients who arrive at hospital.
What this illustrates is that the challenges cannot just be tackled with more money. We have to make sure that everything is working efficiently to make sure we get the best possible services for the public.
What the NHS tends to do is overlay all this with process and targets to try and achieve consistent service standards. But this is also inefficient. We need to see patients as people with holistic needs, not as a succession of individual problems to be fixed. Discussing only one issue at a time can mean that the real source of problems can go undetected or ignored. And we need to give medical practitioners the freedom to exercise their own judgment instead of conforming with processes which get in the way of good care.
It is outcomes for patients that matter. On their own more money and more staff will make no difference when the system is dysfunctional. And right now it is.