Is Universal Health Care Sustainable?

“It depends what you want,” responded Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners representing over 50,000 GPs, when speaking at the Temple of Peace on 9 April at an event sponsored by WCIA and the Learned Society of Wales as part of a series of lectures celebrating the 70th anniversary of the NHS. Professor Stokes-Lampard advocated the value for money in building capacity at primary health care level when it comes to reducing mortality. She used the illustration of a three-legged stool: primary, secondary and social care have to be in balance. Any stress or lack in one part affects the whole system.

The “inverse Care Law,” first coined in 1970s, holds for today: the need for health care is inversely proportionate to the quality provided. That is, poor people need good health care but in general poor quality is provided. Adding market forces to health care provision makes this worse. Prof Stokes Lampard also used illustrations of the type of funding mixes used by different countries because none, not even the NHS, uses public funding alone – all use some kind of top up in the form of fees. The greatest inequalities are in private insurance health care which lead to the denial of health care provision to the most vulnerable.
Linnet Mesuoh, Year 2 medial students described the lecture as “Very interesting and insightful.”

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