With the NHS under constant strain and pressure, the system is always shown negatively in every newspaper you can get your hands on. Although the forever lengthening waiting times and depletion of beds in hospitals is far from ideal, the NHS is one of the national treasures of the UK. It deserves more praise and appreciation for all that it provides.
There are only about 32 of 195 countries in the world which have some form of a national, regulated healthcare system. That doesn’t mean that they’re free, it just means that the government has tried to ensure there is a system in place from which their residents can receive healthcare support and treatment. From these 32 countries, only a handful have elements of their healthcare systems which are somewhat free.
Countries across Europe have marginally better systems than the rest of the world on a whole. In France, the government will contribute up to 90% of costs (using the money which has come from taxes) but will still expect you to pay a portion. In Germany, you are expected to pay but the amount in question is determined by income. In Ireland, the healthcare system is also funded by taxation. However, free healthcare is only provided if your household income is below a certain threshold. If it is above, you will on the whole, have to pay for treatment and healthcare. Through the Spanish healthcare system, all basic medical services are free. However, if you have surgery, an overnight hospital visit, or certain diagnostic tests there will be a small fee. Finally, in Italy, inpatient and primary care are free. There are no costs associated with visiting a doctor, however there is a fixed amount to pay for diagnostic procedures and prescribed medication. Like the UK, the elderly, pregnant women and children are exempt from payments.
Outside of Europe, Canada’s system is partly like the UK’s; except it is split by province - of which they have 13. Each province will decide how to distribute their wealth across the different areas of healthcare. In Japan, the government pays for 70% of healthcare costs associated with medical appointments, hospital visits, and even prescriptions. Patients pay for the remaining 30% of costs. However, based on income levels, this ratio may change in favor of the patient.
Described above have been the best healthcare systems in the world, in terms of cost and finance. Now, you may be able to see why residents of the UK are in such a privileged position. Whether it’s £260 for each chemotherapy session, or £2,000 for a hysteroscopy which is required, the NHS will cover all costs. It’s staggering to imagine what costs the NHS absorbs when people become ill, and are admitted for more acute issues. And however frustrating the waits can be, it’s free. I firmly believe that without the NHS, we would suffer, people wouldn’t get the care they need and families would struggle.
The NHS was created by men and women who believed that an individual's financial status should not dictate whether they live or die. It is the last relic of a time when we better understood the idea of helping our neighbours. Now, more than ever, we need to appreciate the work of the NHS, and fight to protect and preserve our nationalised health service.