Posted on February 8th, 2023

Sarath Wijesinghe President’s Counsel, Ambassador to UAE and Israel, President Ambassador’s Forum Solicitor in England and Wales

NHS in the United Kingdom- a wonderful system

NHS is the health system in the United Kingdom provided free to the citizens with a network of General Physicians to every citizen with a support staff, including the improvement and protection of health in the areas covered by the general physicians spread in the country. It is provided free to every citizen free medicine to those who are on  income support, aged, low income groups and those declared by the social security department as unable to pay – yet those who could afford will be paying a very moderate amount for drugs. Expenditure in hospitals and the rest of the treatments in the clinics by the hospitals and GP practices too are free for every citizen chose to be treated by NHS. This wonderful system in available in the United Kingdome and similar systems in some EU, and commonwealth countries with some variations. There is no free health service in the United States where citizen is expected to be insured for treatment especially in emergencies, where insurance cover is demanded before treatment.

Private medical system

The private medical system exists in UK at a price to cater those who could afford and who chose to elect it in pace of NHS. This system was introduced just after the war and continued by public demand and support. It promoted high quality of health services to every citizen, all of whom  is in the NHS plan covering the entire country spreading GP (general physician) practices all funded by the NHS  excellent and ideal system exemplary to other parts of the world. Health is a main issue in USA political system considering to follow the UK model with variations. GP is the advisor and leader in the health system in the village or a cluster of citizens demarcated by the system in practice. It is a good idea for Sri Lanka to adopt a method of a personal private trained career with proper training covering the entire country who will be acting as a health worker who also will be in a position to act as a caregiver worldwide to bring much needed foreign exchange and exchange of knowledge and experiences. Personal care worker can work as a health worker as on voluntary basis in self-funded establishments which is an ideal model to introduce in Sri Lanka. Caregivers are in demand world over like physicians that could be utilized locally as well as worldwide .The state in UK spends 53 million pounds from tax payers money for NHS network with 122000 doctors a with 36622 fully qualified GP practices all strictly monitored paid by the NHS fund as the legal aid fund that funds the legal aid scheme generally managed through legal aid by lawyers and NHS by doctors. The main theme of NHS is patients benefit and patient care includes health care of the community through clusters of GPs hospitals and other organization catering many other diseases and sicknesses. It is given free to the citizen who pays a contribution and tax on the income proportionately who carries a cared called NHS card with a unique number and recognition that gives all his information which is an ideal system to be followed by any other country. NHS strictly considers information confidential which could be accessed only by a General Physician, Hospital, or an authorized medical personal only for the purpose of treating a patient with the consent of the patient. The most important wonder of the system is the ability to access of the notes by any Physician or a hospital only with the permission of the patient will all the medical history with the test results could be accessed from any corner of the country with the NHS reference number easy to carry.

Access to medical health/treatment

A citizen in the extreme end of the country can register with a GP and be treated with access and any hospital in the country can have access to the documents with the permission of the patients o 6733 million population all qualifies to NHS funded by the tax payer costing 600 million pounds. Sri Lankan government spends $ 161 million which is 4.08 of GDP which is substantial for a country like Sri Lanka and a proper caregiving system will save on preventive care as well when a substantial amount of the income is spent on drug prevention and other preventive measures on health sector. The service has to equality and the Physician and Hospital Trusts are responsible for mistakes heavily contested in courts funded and assisted by legal aid. Hospitals, equipment, and services aer of highest quality supervised by governmental and non-governmental organizations and powerful consumer groups led by famous WHICH pressure group. A system akin to NHS was introduced to Sri Lanka by the British Colonial powers but the GP services and the standers that continues to be in operation in Sri Lanka with Hospitals with free services. Out of 25600 MBBS doctors registered 70% are employed in the government service with freedom to be on private practice with. ‘’Ayuradic’’ doctors spread countrywide in all villages the community depends on combined health services practices both western and traditional systems taking the place of the general practitioner and adviser to the community on health and safety supported by the ‘’Public Health inspectors’’, ‘’mid Wife’s, and ‘’health worker’’ of the health department all of whom are in the group of health workers to the community in the health system offered free to the community in addition to the private doctors 9 western and traditional) which is a combination of both systems. Hospitals are free for the citizen with a network of private hospitals which are expensive for the ordinary citizen offering ‘’Channel Services’ ‘by specialized doctors at a price and the drugs are purchased through the network of private pharmacies where the quality is in doubt.

Shortage of drugs and substandard health system

Currently there is a severe shortage of drugs due to the financial crisis in the country. There are reports that there are over 10,000 private hospitals not up to the standards of the expected standards when there are numerous complaints about state hospitals on various grounds. .  In UK system it is not necessary to carry his medical file within the country in a emergency or an urgent need- Regional teams are located with regional care through GP and hospitals managed by separate trusts with access to the patient according to the needs- for example when some hospitals are specializes on cancer the patient could be referred to that hospital by the GP generally with the recommendations of the consultant physicians. The system is organized rooted and patient friendly. Patients are treated to ordinary caught to heart surgery free to any citizen refereed by the GP and the consultant Physician. Specialized centres and institutions treats NHS patients from referrals from the GP and consultants channelling through the channels – all free of charge on NHS unless they chose to be private which is very costly yet some choose to go private.  Everything is free to all citizens except for the medicine in UK but the system is changed in Sri Lanka due to the economic crisis.

Caregivers and monitoring system

Caregivers should be trained as mini doctors able to treat in emergencies and to work closely with doctors and hospitals on a properly programmed system. Substandard of Pharmacies, drugs and private hospitals are a great hindrance to the health services that has to be looked into as a matter of urgency with the introduction of a proper supervisory mechanism as in UK. Though the Health department is expected to supervise and monitor the isolated health, private hospitals Pharmacies and the health care it is doubtful they perform their duties at all. In overall Sri Lanka needs new life and rejuvenation for the entire health sector and they need not be shy to learn from others when USA is looking into the ways and means of following the UK model in the ‘’United States’’. Will caregiver is a proper model for a mini doctor is a matter left to the leaders of Sri Lanka to implement after a proper extensive research and studies. Sarath7@hotmail.co.uk

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