Under the cloak of austerity, NHS funding has risen by just 0.9% per year since 2010. While this may be an increase, it’s not enough to meet the amount actually needed for the institution to function (figures from The Kingsfund). In fact, it is reported the NHS needs an extra £30 billion by 2020 to meet care demands (figure from NHS Support Federation).
Our NHS faces many struggles. Founded in 1948, the needs of the population it was created to serve have changed significantly. With an ageing population and successful treatment of more complex diseases and conditions, you could say the NHS is a victim of its own success. To be able to maintain this success, it needs funding and support from the communities it serves.
Privatisation is another concern. Many of the services previously provided by the NHS are being sold to private contractors. If this continues, we need to ask whether there will be much of an NHS left.
In light of this information, it’s easy to feel frustrated and helpless. But we can turn these feelings into action and support the institution we all depend on at some point during our lives.
We all have a part to play in the future of the NHS. With this is mind, here are five simple steps you can take right now:
1. Get Social
Organisations such as the NHS Support Federation and Keep Our NHS Public campaign tirelessly for more funding and to keep the NHS in public hands. All you need to do is follow them on social media and share their posts, helping to expand their reach and make more impact. Invite your friends and family to do the same.
You can go further by donating to either of these organisations and volunteering to help their efforts.
Write to your MP and express your feelings about the current state of the NHS. If the funding gap has directly affected you, let him or her know about it (find your local MP’s details here.) The NHS Support Federation even has a template letter for MPs to make this process super easy.
You can also sign the NHS Pledge . Your pledge will be presented to your MP and local politicians to ensure your voice is heard.
Do you have an hour or two spare per week or per month? Why not use it to volunteer at your local hospital? You could push hospital trolleys, make tea, meet and greet patients and even plant flowers in the hospital garden. There are many volunteering opportunities listed on the NHS jobs website or you can contact your local trust.
4. Keep Your Appointments
Missed GP and hospital appointments cost the NHS £1 billion in 2015. This is a staggering waste. Always keep your appointment and if you need to reschedule, let the relevant department know in plenty of time.
5. Use Your Pharmacist
For minor ailments, why not head to your pharmacy before making a doctor’s appointment? Your pharmacists can help with a whole array of minor ailments such as coughs and colds, hay fever and indigestion. Pharmacists also provide help with smoking cessation and can aid with the management of conditions such as diabetes. You can find out more about the ways your pharmacist can help you here.
6. Give Blood
Giving blood is a life-saving action almost anyone can take. At present, blood group O-negative is in short supply and donors are urgently needed. Find out how to give blood here.
7. Sign The Organ Donation Register
If the worst happens, your organs could be given to one of the hundreds of people currently on the waiting list and you could save a life. Anyone can register and you can do so here.
Envied throughout the world, our NHS is undoubtedly a national treasure. It’s there for us when we need it, so let’s give back by supporting and protecting the NHS as best we can. We can all be NHS champions.