After a decade of austerity, greater spending on public services, the National Health Service most of all, is essential. Though the NHS was formally protected from cuts, spending has risen by an average of just 1.5 per cent a year over the past decade, compared to an average of 3.7 per cent a year since its formation in 1948.
The consequences of such underfunding are being felt by all. A recent poll by the Doctors’ Association UK found that only eight out of 1,618 NHS medics believe that the health service is “well prepared” for the coronavirus crisis. While Germany has eight hospital beds for every 1,000 people, the UK has just 2.7, with 17,000 NHS England beds cut since 2010.
The value of the welfare state as a form of collective insurance is never more obvious than during epidemics, from which no individual, however wealthy, can insulate themselves. The distinction between domestic and foreign policy has largely collapsed: global problems, such as pandemics, antimicrobial resistance, climate change, refugee flows and social media panics, necessitate multilateral solutions. Individuals may self-isolate but the world’s nations must not.”
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