NHS rationing endemic in England

nhs ration2.png
A mocked-up NHS ration-card. Created by @adamrobertlloyd

As attention has focused on the NHS winter crisis, the media has rarely pointed out that the health service in England is in year-round crisis.

The chart below shows the number of people waiting longer than four hours to be seen at Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments. The red lines show times when the numbers outside the winter period were similar to or higher than the preceding winter:

nhs non-winter crisis.png

The chart also shows that the lowest A&E crises in recent years have been as high as – or higher than – the ‘winter crisis’ peaks up to and including 2014.

The number of nurses in the NHS is now around forty thousand below its full complement. The abolition of training bursaries and the stress of trying to cope are making that situation worse, with around ten percent of the nursing workforce leaving the NHS last year.

In spite of Jeremy Hunt’s boasts about staff numbers, NHS hospitals are also facing a doctor crisis. The chief executive of Colchester hospital told the BBC late last year:

We are 50 junior doctors short on our rotas across the hospital. Every day is a constant struggle.

Staff shortages in radiology and other areas are endemic.

One response by the government and NHS England to this crisis has been rationing of treatments.

Rationing has become rife in the English NHS:

  • patients who need cataract surgery have been denied treatment at greater levels through the imposition of visual acuity thresholds.
  • greater numbers of patients who need skin excision are being denied, according to the BMJ
  • IVF treatment has been rationed under the Tories, with 80% of CCGs now refusing to fund the 3 cycles of IVF that NICE recommends
  • hip & knee Surgery is now being denied to patients who smoke or are obese in over 1/3 of Clinical Commissioning Groups
  • CCGs have begun to restrict free hearing aids on the NHS for those suffering hearing loss
  • elderly patients have been charged £30 fall feesas a call out charge for a healthcare worker to come and help them up
  • increased number of patients being referred for varicose vein surgery, or carpal tunnel surgery are being denied
  • increasing numbers of patients referred by their GP for mental health treatment are being declined

This rationing inflicts misery on many thousands of people – and costs lives, as suicide rates among those suffering mental health issues are far higher than those receiving suitable ‘early intervention’ treatment – and numbers of deaths among people held in custody under the Mental Health Act have tripled.


The Tories deny, of course, that they are working to end the NHS. The reality is that, in any sense of a universal system free at the point of need to all who need it, they have already ended it.

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  1. We need to be quite clear on this point.

    The reason for the underfunding of the NHS is the ideology of the Tory Party. Its key objective is to roll back the state.

    Austerity was just an excuse to achieve that objective.

    People are dying because of discredited Tory dogma.

  2. I’m at logger heads with my CCG, they stopped my Liothyronine because the greedy pharmaceutical charged £284 for a months supply, I have had to buy my medication from Mexico £89.00 for a years supply. This is medication that I need, an consultant endocrinologist after my operation to remove my thyroid stated that I needed it that was 5 years ago but earlier this year the CCG sent a letter saying it is a dangerous drug & has blacklisted it, therefore I cannot have it supplied anymore through the NHS.
    My local surgery contacted me & told me I can get a private prescription & source my medication abroad, but the CCG says it is dangerous if that is so why is my GP surgery saying otherwise??
    They are now putting my life at risk because the Mexico Liothyronine is 25 mcg whereas the NHS one is 20 mcg which I have been taking for over five years because of the 5 mcg difference I am now overmedicated I have tremors fast heartbeat etc & it is also going to make my osteoporosis worse. My GP has now started me on propranolol beta blocker which is ridiculous why not just give me my thyroid meds back?
    I do not want to stop taking it as it was a living hell on earth before but I know I cannot carry on as it is going to kill me.
    I was perfectly happy and fine before all this, I do not understand why the NHS didn’t source a better deal rather than saying it is dangerous it’s just a cop out for stopping it because of the cost.

      1. I have tried it, using a pill cutter but there is a lot a waste powder & I am not getting a consistent result, making me all over the place.
        The British Thyroid Association have revised their response to NHS consultations re the de-prescribing & also the NHS new board paper are also saying that it shouldn’t be discontinued in patients that are doing well on it.
        I originally got a response to my email from the CCG saying it is blacklisted & will stay that way, even though I pointed out the documentation that they were referring is out of date & links to the new recommendations.
        So I copied all the updated recommendations highlighted the relevant passages & sent them recorded delivery this time, that was over a week ago still awaiting a reply.
        Thanks Steve for your concern, hoping they will accept the evidence provided & re supply on NHS.

  3. I’m fitted with an implanted cardioverter/defibrillator which will have to replaced in 6-7 years when the battery expires. The cost the device when mine was implanted in 2014 was £20,000 (no, that’s not a mistake). Mine was fitted as an NHS patient but the full cost of the job including device and surgery done privately was £50,000. Assuming I’m still alive, I’m very concerned about whether my device will be renewed. Basically, if my ICD stops running (it runs continually) I stop.

    1. Let’s just hope for all our sakes that we have a Labour Government by then sometime this year would be welcome then our NHS can be saved & the funding they desperately need

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