Now that most of us are content with possessing the standard kit of status goods — house, car, furnishings, clothes, personal ornamentation, etc — of whatever form and price that suit our social level, there are still two costly items left which are — seemingly — unlimited. These are health and education. And for those without children, or whose children are grown up and independent, it is health alone.
And, whether health services are private, or a mix of private and governmental, they are the fastest growing items in all advanced countries. We are living longer, better treatments are being developed and medical knowledge — and thus expectations — are also growing at a pace. Whatever the systems that supply health services they are now buckling financially.
In this country, where most health care is governmental and paid for by taxation, the National Health Service has been buckling for years as different organisational strategies for keeping costs down have been tried and failed. The latest one, called the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP). although still under wraps, is due to be launched in 2017, according to Sarah Bloch-Budzier of the BBC. Basically, it involves the integration of standalone hospitals into local medical and social services.
This is bound to be a controversial — not to say, explosive — issue between the think-tanks and the political parties. Who knows whether it will truly transform and truly make health services sustainable.