GHP September 2015

ghp September 2015 | 71 health and social care funded by public money: 28% of 25-34 year olds think the NHS should pay in entirety for the treat- ments, while only 15% of 65-74 think the same. Keeping to the topic of pregnancy, it is apparent that the public is naive when it comes to the cost childbirth, with almost half of people (47%) thinking it costs less than £500 for women to have a natural birth in hospital, without any complications. Even taking all survey respondents into account, the average cost of a natural birth is estimated to be £1,288 by our respondents, which is more than £500 short of the true figure of £1,824. Commenting on the findings of the report, Medical Director of Benenden, Dr John Giles, said: “The issues surrounding NHS funding is an extremely con- tentious subject and disparity between the actual and perceived costs of treatments on the NHS needs to be addressed. As a nation we have lost touch with the role we should play in our own health and wellbeing, with a large proportion of the population relying on the NHS to maintain our health even if our own lifestyles are detrimental. This has led to a damaging culture whereby we are happy to point the finger when it comes to saying who doesn’t deserve treatment, but we take little responsibility on the individual impact we are all having on the NHS.” Despite being naive when it comes to certain treat- ments, the public is accurate when judging the cost of cosmetic procedures on the NHS. The average cost of a ‘nose job’ is £2,498 for adults over the age of 18 and slightly more for teenagers at £2,582, which the public estimated quite accurately. The younger the respondent, the more accepting they were of cosmetic produces on the NHS to help those suffering from self-esteem issues: 38% of 16-24 year olds thought it was acceptable, while just 25% of 55-64-year olds thought cosmetic surgery courtesy of the NHS was OK, with the percentage dropping to just 18% in the 75-84-category. Shockingly, nearly one in 10 admitted to either lying to their doctor or knowing someone who’d lied about being depressed or suffering from low self-esteem in a bid to get free cosmetic surgery, with this trend much more com- mon in the younger respondents. The survey revealed that the public will take a hard line when it comes to treatments needed as a result of excessive lifestyle choices. The number of people who believed making poor health choices, including, obesi- ty, drugs or alcohol, should result in not being treated by the NHS hovered around 51%-53% in each case. Last year more than 1.4m people used NHS drug and alcohol services, including rehabilitation, at a total cost to the NHS of £136m – and Benenden’s survey respondents were unforgiving: just 15% thought treatment for alcohol abuse should be offered free-of-charge on the NHS, while 85% of respond- ents believed patients should either pay for their own treatment or make a contribution towards it. Similarly, one in 10 Brits think that if you need a liver transplant as a result of abusing alcohol, then the NHS shouldn’t provide it and a further 23% believe alcoholics should contribute towards the transplant. A more generous 43% thought they should get liver transplants for free providing they are alcohol free for three or more months prior to the operation. When it came to looking at their own attitude to the NHS and what they feel they are entitled to, the public was more relaxed. Three-quarters (75%) of those questioned admitted they didn’t consider the cost of a procedure or worry that the free treatment they were receiving could be taking treatment away from someone in greater need, despite 62% expressing concerns that the NHS was under strain. Another area where views on cost proved to split opin- ion is prescriptions. Currently in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, prescriptions are free to all citizens. However, in England, unless you fall under certain exemptions then you are expected to pay for prescrip- tions. The Benenden report reveals that almost four in 10 (37%) thought the current system was unfair and that people in England should get their prescriptions for free, with an almost identical number believing it is the systems in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that should change and start charging. Dr John Giles commented: “These findings are somewhat worrying as they offer a perturbing insight into the sense of entitlement of the British public. This manifests itself in an enormous cost to the NHS, which is not helped when people abuse the system. Yet, unfortunately the burden often rests with health- care professionals and the NHS itself. The selfishness displayed by the public when it comes to looking at their own attitude to the NHS and what they feel they are entitled to is contributing consid- erably to the strain the NHS is currently under. If the public was more aware of the cost of appointments, treatments, operations and prescriptions, and really took responsibility for their own health, using the NHS only when absolutely necessary, the crisis the service finds itself in today would be significantly lessened.” Benenden is the trading name of The Benenden Healthcare Society Limited and its subsidiaries. Based in York, our vision is to be the leading health & wellbeing mutual community in the UK. The Benenden Healthcare Society is a friendly society, founded in 1905. It offers affordable, discretionary healthcare services that complement rather than replace the care offered by the NHS. For £8.45 per person, per month, members can request a range of healthcare services, with no exclusions for pre-existing medical conditions or upper age restrictions. It is a five- time winner of ‘Most Trusted’ healthcare provider at the 2011-2015 Moneywise Customer Service Awards. Also part of Benenden are the wholly-owned subsidi- aries of The Benenden Healthcare Society: • Benenden Wellbeing Limited, which offers a range of other wellbeing products including health assessments, health cash plans, travel insurance and home insurance; • The Benenden Charitable Trust, which aims to help people who find themselves in financial dif- ficulty due to sickness, disability, infirmity or any other medical condition; and • The Benenden Hospital Trust, which provides treatment to members of The Benenden Healthcare Society, those who wish to fund their own treatment (directly or through insurance) and NHS patients through the NHS Choose and Book scheme. Read the Benenden National Health Report here.