Give the NHS same freedom from politics as the Bank of England, best-selling author says
Funding decisions on the future of the NHS should be taken out of party politics and handed over to an autonomous body in the same way the Bank of England decides interest rates, former doctor and best-selling author Adam Kay told Buxton International Festival.
Adam published his book This Is Going To Hurt, which has sold more than 400,000 copies, to counter what he called the Government lie that the junior doctors’ strike had been about pay. The book is based on hilarious, moving and often heart-breaking entries in a diary he kept as he was training.
He said it demonstrated how doctors – all of whom are classed as “junior” unless they become consultants – had taken industrial action because chronic underfunding was putting patient safety at risk.
The comedy writer gave up medicine because of the stress of a profession where home life and friendships were worn down by 97-hour working weeks and constant pressure.
“We need to have a big grown-up discussion in the country about what we want from the NHS,” he said. “Whether we keep the NHS as it is: free at the point of delivery which involves putting our hands in our pockets, or some kind of private hybrid.”
Britain was rich enough to fund the NHS properly, especially if was rich enough to spend £200 billion on the nuclear deterrent Trident system and £10 million on the HS2 rail link, as well as being wealthy enough “to bung the Democratic Ulster Unionist Party a billion” to prop up the Government’s Parliamentary majority.
He suggested taking the debate out of the hands of politicians who only look as far ahead as the next election: “They are here today and gone tomorrow. There should be a big Parliamentary cross-party discussion. It should have autonomy like the Bank of England.”
For more debates on the state of the nation coming up in this year’s Festival, see www.buxtonfestival.co.uk