Shropshire Star

Political column - March 30

The patient is bankrupt and broken, sustained by good wishes and affection, but even that is now running out.


There is no shortage of diagnoses, but to date nobody has promoted an effective cure.

And if that isn't depressing enough, everything points to things going further downhill.

To say the NHS is in crisis is such a statement of the obvious that even politicians are saying it. They used to readily declare how proud they are of the NHS, a great British institution, but the great British public which used to be on board with that message are losing patience with a health service which increasingly fails to meet their expectations and with which their own experiences are in some cases frankly terrible.

During Covid the UK had among the worst outcomes. Measured against comparable nations it has below average survival rates for many major cancers and poorer outcomes from heart attacks and strokes. A couple of years ago a report rated our healthcare system as second worst out of 19 similar countries.

Fewer than a quarter of people are now content with the NHS. Public satisfaction has fallen to its lowest ever level.

A survey shows 84 per cent think the NHS has a major funding problem, and almost 48 per cent want the government to put up taxes and spend more on it. Nine out of 10 think it should be free, and 82 per cent think it should be funded primarily from taxation.

So the public does not want an NHS model which is radically different, just one that is the same which actually works.

Pump in more taxpayers' money, and ideally reduce the crushing demand, and hey presto.

Couple of snags. Britain already has its highest tax burden since the war. And Britain is projected to see a substantial rise in its population, so the demand is not going to decrease – unless the NHS starts turning people away.

You already hear of ordinary people who are so frustrated with NHS delays that they choose to go private, despite the great expense. There do seem to be more and more adverts on telly for private healthcare.

The way things are going, those who can afford to, will increasingly pay for their care, leaving the NHS to end up as literally a poor man's (and woman's) healthcare system.


There's no messing by the Russians when it comes to dealing with terrorist suspects.

While the decadent Americans use kidglove methods like waterboarding, suffocating detainees in sleeping bags, and unimaginative sleep deprivation techniques, Putin's regime gets straight to the point, and if you are of a sensitive disposition, it's time to look away.

After the horrendous attack in Moscow one of the suspects was fed his own ear. Other torture methods included electric shocks administered to private parts, beatings up so severe that one of them appeared in court semi-conscious in a wheelchair, and the apparent removal of an eye.

The reaction from the authorities in Moscow was the same shrug they give to the beheading of Ukrainian prisoners of war.

Currently there is no death penalty in Russia, but that should be a mere trifle for somebody like Putin as there are many accidents and untoward events which can happen to people detained under his regime.

While there will be a dearth of sympathy for terrorist mass murderers, the wider picture which is very scary is that Russia is a full-blown gangster state and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future after Putin's election victory.

Britain's deputy chief of defence staff says the UK could not fight Russia for more than two months because of lack of resources.

It sounds like the mid-1930s all over again when defence policy in the face of the rise of Hitler consisted of crossing fingers and hoping for the best.


As the weather improves we are hoping to make more of our National Trust membership.

If you are unfamiliar with the National Trust, it is an organisation of splendid coffee shops, some of which have some really interesting properties attached.

And you also get free parking, which is a bonus if you're only taking the dogs for a walk in the grounds.

We do hope to get inside sometime though.

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