My name is Alice and I’m your commodity consultant for today.
What do I think the NHS is worth? This maybe one of the more difficult questions I am going to answer today as our relationship with the NHS is bound so tightly with our experience with it.
If we look at it on a purely monetary perspective the NHS has a planned expenditure of £116.57bn for 2015/16. (http://bit.ly/1kXa3DA). While this sounds like a lot, it is only 6.2% of UK GDP (http://bit.ly/1XH5Kgs).
However, its founding principle in 1948 that “the health service will be available to all and financed entirely from taxation, which means that people pay into it according to their means” (http://bit.ly/1pqBfwc) is something which I don’t think you can put a price on. It’s sentiment comes from a place often forgotten by modern day politics, that everyone has a right to be treated the same as everyone else, without having to justify why.
Lets dig a little deeper by looking at my relationship with the NHS.
So, I am a 26 year old female who is of good health the majority of the time. Prone to the occasional headache and, as any other 26 year old with a decent social life, likes to skip over the ‘how much do you drink in a week question’, when filling out a health form.
I recon on average I go to my GP once, maybe twice a year, and have had a total of four trips to A&E (that I can remember) and 1 surgical procedure. According to the Guardian NHS cost calculator this costs the NHS:
GP costs: £999 a year
1 x broken arm after tumble at Glastonbury - £500
3 x Concussions (while most people rebelled in their teenage years, I played contact games and had a habit of falling down stairs) - £390
1 x Tonsil removal - £1090
So far the running total for my 26 years on earth is £25,974.
Source: How much do I cost the NHS?
But, there is more. I also have a port wine stain, or birthmark for short. It runs from my right hand side of my face, down my body and right arm across to my left leg.
“A port wine stain is a vascular birthmark caused by abnormal development of blood vessels in the skin. A port wine stain is sometimes referred to as a capillary malformation. A port wine stain is a flat, red or purple mark on the skin that is present at birth.”
Source: Port wine stain
It causes me few problems nowadays, other than the odd dodgy look from an intrigued passers by, but when I was a child, around other children who are not known for their tact, it could make me feel very self conscious.
“Laser treatment is the only treatment for a port wine stain. It lightens the affected area of skin. Laser treatment often works better in younger children because in adults a port wine stain may become bumpy and raised after a number of years.
The most common type of laser treatment is known as pulsed dye laser treatment. The laser passes through a fibreoptic cable. On the end of the cable is a device that looks like a pen. This is gently held against the surface of your child's skin and a button is pressed, which sends a beam of light to the skin.
The light goes less than 1mm into the skin. It's absorbed by the blood vessel just beneath the surface, causing it to heat up. The heat damages the blood vessel, which creates a bruise that will fade within a week or two.”
Source: Birthmarks Treatments
So far I have had 30 or more treatments under a general anesthetic and 16 or more without it. While there are no given numbers to calculate the cost we can take the conservative figure of £500 per general anesthetic with an additional £100 per laser treatment (http://bit.ly/1TN38rJ) at a total cost of £19,600. In total I have had more than £45,574 from the NHS, which doesn’t even include all the extra appointments and check ups that are too long to list.
Yet, the real value of the NHS is not the cost of my treatment, it’s the fact that the cost of the treatment doesn’t come into it. The real worth of the NHS for me is that they provided me with a treatment which did not save my life, but made my life a lot easier to go on as normal. That is a ‘worth’ which I will never be able to put a price on.