Letter: NHS is taken for granted by those who abuse the system

A relative of mine was admitted to hospital recently experiencing abdominal pain. Little did he know that he would have to wait almost seven hours until a bed was made available for him.

hospital doctor nurse stethoscope stock

In the meantime, he was asked to wait on a trolley in the foyer of the hospital where patients were coming in and going out. My relative was hooked up to a drip which at times did not work properly, he found the whole process very stressful indeed.

I realise that the NHS is struggling to cope under difficult circumstances and the hospital staff are under pressure to meet targets, the four-hour wait is unrealistic given that every person that enters the A&E department has different needs and timescales, some cases are urgent and need immediate attention. In most cases a pharmacist or health practice nurse can give good advice saving the need to visit the hospital.

The crisis in the NHS will continue unless we all take some control over our lifestyle and wellbeing.

When the NHS was set up in 1948 it worked very well and was there to help all people after the war, it was free at the point of service. Now it is taken for granted by people that abuse the system, such as allowing people from overseas to take advantage of our free health service without paying a penny, when most of those people can afford to pay. Drunken people who are admitted to A&E most Friday and Saturday nights, again putting great strain on the NHS.

We are living longer than previous generations and although this is something to be celebrated, living longer does not necessarily mean we are going to be in the best of health long term and this again creates pressure on local authorities to provide social care.

Carers are one of the lowest paid workers, I should know because I was one, the job can be stressful and the role of a carer is multiple and demanding.

The Government and local authorities need to put more money into not just social care but also children and young people’s services. It’s about the future generation who are going to be the ones who we will rely on to look after us for years to come.

Pearl Dunbar, Shrewsbury

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Comments for: "Letter: NHS is taken for granted by those who abuse the system"


We have seen nothing yet wait to the put STP in Place has any one looked at the new ccg papers ?


People from overseas are a) either subject to reciprocal agreements between their country and ours, or b) typically liable to pay for NHS treatment. We've not always proven very good at collecting such money, but recently the situation in respect of that has been improved.

However, the missing payments amount to less than a thousandth of the NHS budget, so the suggestion that somehow A&E departments have long queues due to freeloading foreigners is rather ridiculous, and quite unsupported by the facts.

Sometimes, it seems, in this post-truth age, people just believe what they actually want to believe, in order to manufacture a chip for their own shoulders, rather than investigate the facts of the matter.


PJS I wish you would stick to some thing you know about the NHS is way above you ?


You might find this hard to believe, but it's actually relatively easy to find facts about public spending, and about numbers of people coming here for so-called health tourism.

The idea that somehow our hospitals are overrun with freeloading foreigners is simply nonsense. You're far more likely to encounter a foreign doctor, nurse or member of ancillary staff than you are a foreign patient.

Perhaps you should try and look for some verifiable facts that you could present to support your narrow views? You could then present them here rather than relying on what you read in your favourite tabloids or hear from far right political parties.

jim jams

Ha ha the man of facts indeed. Where is your proof that foreigners only account for 1/1000 of hospital costs, then?

How about this little fact?


"Over a quarter (27.5%) of live births in England and Wales in 2015 were to women born outside the UK, the highest level on record."

It looks like you are losing the argument again, PJS. Time to play your racist card, maybe? You know, the one you keep up your sleeve with about a thousand others. (either that or get our comments removed)


Not losing the argument at all - simply finding facts, and using them in a statistically supportable way.

I think you're drawing conclusions from the statistic you quote which simply cannot be drawn.

The vast majority of those who give birth here will be here completely legally. Some will be here temporarily as EU citizens, in which case the cost of their hospital care can be claimed from their governments.

Others will have legally migrated here, to live, work, and of course pay taxes here - they will probably be paying tax and NI here for their whole lives - as will the children they give birth to. It's probably be worth talking to many doctors and surgeons in our hospitals too - I bet a lot of them had mothers who were born abroad!

All of the above will be included in the above statistic - hardly any of those within that statistic will be people who have deliberately come here to give birth without entitlement to NHS provision, yet you and others seem happy that we should believe, without any evidence at all, that a significant proportion of them are so-called 'health tourists', presumably because that's what you want to believe.

As for the costs of health tourism being about 1,000th of the NHS budget, well, the NHS budget is around £120bn per annum. The amount that people deliberately coming here to use the NHS without paying cost us, is around £120 million per annum. It sounds a lot, but if you compare it to the overall budget and do the maths, it's about 1,000th.

It was explained very well on Radio 4 in a recent edition of 'Inside Health', or it may have been 'More or Less' their statistical programme. Either way, the fact quoted is readily verifiable. If you check the iPlayer you could probably find it and listen to it.


PJS IF any one has got narrow views you are streets a way a head ?


We’ve become so beholden to facts, that we’re too afraid to state something is true just because we’ve made it up. Politicians are literally scared to say our fish stocks have been destroyed because they’ve all been squashed by drowning immigrants. Or five million Nepalese tribesmen come here every day, costing the NHS a million pounds a minute as we’re obliged to straighten out the matted hair on their yaks.

This is the service that Farage and Trump have carried out for us, they’ve changed the rules of what is acceptable and normal. All that was once considered an electoral disaster is now seen as fair and ‘anti-establishment’.


PJS you do not get our comments removed do you I Thought you for free speech but I could be wrong ?


I have never asked for any comment to be removed from this (or any other) publication. If your comments are being removed, then there must be some other reason (e.g. breaches of the house rules for example).

Perhaps you should contact the sire moderator and ask?


"so the suggestion that somehow A&E departments have long queues due to freeloading foreigners is rather ridiculous, and quite unsupported by the facts."

PJS the letter suggested a lot of reasons why the NHS is struggling, I wondered if anyone would misquote the letter to claim it was all lies based on racism and xenophobia!


The government proposes that immigrants should pay a “contribution” towards any healthcare they receive. It could be argued, if you were picky, that people born in Britain are three times more likely to use the Health Service than immigrants, as those born here are on average older than those who come here to work. But if the new system works well, we can cause so much stress to every foreigner by having everyone they meet checking their papers, they’ll be in hospital most of the time which could make the NHS a handy profit.


Please tell me were the Government and local authority will get the monies from to give to the NHS , the tax payer, me!.

Note the Government has no money of its own, it is ALL raised from taxes.

No more tax, pay a the point of admission to the NHS and free treatment and also pay when you visit your GP.



We don't need to raise taxes for ordinary people to fund our NHS. Instead, we should collect the tens of billions of pounds in tax that the wealthiest individuals and large companies are allowed to get away without paying - some put this figure as high as £120bn per annum.

We could also stop paying for white elephants such as Trident, which is not an independent weapon system, and really offers us no protection at all.


[When the NHS was set up in 1948 it worked very well and was there to help all people after the war, it was free at the point of service. ]

Actually it did not, many people were initially reluctant to use it not believing they would not have to pay but then it became widely used and demand massively outstripped facilities as people often had longstanding problems that had never been dealt with. Few complained of long waits as they were used to them and grateful for now being able to afford healthcare.

Elderly people were sometimes not offered antibiotics or were 'helped' to die as doctors were invariably treated like 'gods' then and care was rarely questioned. This was of course mostly a kindness to alleviate suffering but some felt the decisions were perhaps financially led.

[Now it is taken for granted by people that abuse the system,]

It is difficult to define abuse. In the past most people smoked cigarettes and pipes, breathed in smog, abused alcohol, acquired STDs and religion forced women to have huge families by banning contraception resulting in greater poverty.

My son attended A&E this morning he waited one hour. He received brilliant advice and treatment for physical abuse to his body including an infection caused by a 4 day intensive assessment to decide whether to train to become a Royal Marine. The doctor said that his brother 15 years ago sustained a spinal injury doing this course so I am extremely relieved my son's injuries were relatively minor when passing apparently the hardest forces physical test in the world.

The majority of poorly paid care work is undertaken by people from other countries and done to a high standard.


Here is a chart, from the Health Foundation (who have the background in private medicine and have no axe to grind for the NHS) showing average spending changes on the NHS over ten year periods…


You will see that despite still having the benefits of raised spending on the NHS during the first decade of this century by the Labour government, the funding of the NHS still falls off a cliff in 2010 when the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats came to power, and has continued falling since then.

Quoting the article…

"... 1999/2000 to 2009/10, when total spending on the NHS in the UK grew by an average of 6.3% a year, the highest rate of growth over a 10 year period.

The most recent decade, ending in 2014/15, has seen an average increase of 2.5% a year. This will fall to 1.1% by 2019/20, assuming that the English NHS receives an extra £8bn by 2020/21 as planned, and the resulting increases for the devolved budgets of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is spend on the NHS

This will therefore become lowest growth in funding over a decade that the UK NHS has received."

Tell me, why do you think there are problems with the NHS at the moment?


I would add, relating back to the headline, that when you say 'those who abuse the system' you must mean the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrat party in government.


And of course the more that tabloids and right wing politicians insist on scapegoating foreigners, and the more people there are who slavishly believe what they are told by those tabloids and politicians, rather than seeking the facts, the easier it becomes for governments to underfund our services whilst funding the wealthiest...


My sister was in an operating gown when she was told her operation was cancelled. The surgeon was left twiddling his thumbs, expensively! She is now rebooked for the end of March but her treatment costs to the NHS will have soared through mismanagement/ reduced funding.


I totally agree with your comment exactly where to lay the blame adam.


Any service which is free at the point of use, will inevitably be abused by a section of the population.


The shortest comment, but you are inarguably right.

The problem is how to bring in selective charging to stop this sort of abuse.

My wife recently died of Alzheimer's, I cared for her for the entire 8 years, including incontinence care, and in the later months, help from my daughters because I could not dress her by myself.

I installed a stair lift and bought a wheelchair, I was offered some respite care and nursing care on a daily basis, but I declined this to give all the personal care myself, with help from my daughters, both of whom already worked full time.

I am proud to say that my wife had good care and died peacefully at home, cared for by those who loved her.

In the process we saved the NHS loads of money, lots of other people could do the same, just because its there, and free, you don't have to use it.


There are three reasons why this is a diversion from what's actually going on.

The first is that we don't have a service which is simply free at the point of use. There are strong gate-keepers in the NHS who make decisions about whether you need or don't need a service and, if you do, about the level of service you require. You can't turn up and get what you want - it's not a supermarket. There are expert professional decisions made about the care you require.

Secondly, from a letter that complains about overseas users of the NHS, the service is overwhelmingly not free to them.

Thirdly, the core issue leading to a deterioration of services is the biggest ever cut in funding rises that the NHS has seen, as the graph I posted a link to above shows.

Tony in BC

This is just another reminder of the spoilt society you folks live in. No bed after seven hours - well - in most countries worldwide you'd be lucky to get a bed - period. Even here in very rich, first world Canada my wife waited eighteen hours to get a bed and she'd had a very serious accident with seizures and broken bones. And the letter writer blames this to a degree on foreign nationals taking up scarce resources - we don't use that as an excuse as folks must have paid-up health insurance to qualify for treatment.

And in spite of the fact that the NHS was set up long ago in 1948 - it was years before common folks became accustomed to 'free' healthcare - one simply didn't go to the hospital for minor complaints - and I well remember having to pay 12 shillings for an ambulance - almost a week's salary at that time.


[In the process we saved the NHS loads of money, lots of other people could do the same, just because its there, and free, you don't have to use it.]

We all pay for our NHS so it is not free and I do believe that we commit to care for a partner in sickness and in health whether religious or not just as we care for our children 24/7.

Some cannot do it or have no children ( a steadily more common choice today) so that it why we have a system that hopefully does not leave people completely deserted in their time of need which ultimately we'd all have pay for one way or another anyway.

The NHS is abused to a degree by the greed of higher earners taking advantage of a national institution whether administrators or medics.


Yes,Terry, but it is free at the point of use and because it is paid for by taxation a lot of the general public don't even think about the fact that it is paid for in that way.

I agree with you that I was lucky that I could cope and my daughters live nearby and there are loads of people who are not so lucky. This does not take away the point I was trying to make, that those who can help themselves should do so. I would, however, advise any family in this sad situation to enter into the system asap because my experience is that the local authority is extremely poor at making the assessments needed to help with the care package.

As a family when we realised that we were reaching a point where we would no longer cope we applied to be assessed for help and when it was offered we were able to put it on hold until we could no longer cope. We had 3 different assessments for 3 separate services from the local authority, when we felt one assessment would do, and it took nearly a month to get the offer of help.


We do ourselves and each other no favours if we decide to treat our NHS as if it were a charity - because that's exactly what those on the right, who would happily see the demise of the service, actually want us to do.

Think back to Cameron's 'Big Society'. He was keen for any number of publicly funded services to be handed over to charities, and of course, as Tories always do, to spend the money saved on helping out the wealthy with more tax cuts.

Look at some of our other services. I've always been baffled by the idea that we cannot (except in Scotland) fund our air ambulances from public funds, and instead have to fund them via charity. As far as I'm aware, we fund police helicopters from public funds - so why not medical helicopters too?

guitar george he knows all the chords

So, people are coming to the UK, having never paid into the system and are now claiming free health care the cheeky lot

Can someone explain why this is different the hundreds of thousands of UK citizens who have never worked, and therefore never paid into the system, who also claim free healthcare.

But I guess its okay for brits to abuse the system and to abuse the tax-payers, but no-one else. I’d much rather the system was used for immigrants, their need is more desperate and greater than our own citizens who frankly have it all on a plate