This year marks client Benenden’s second annual National Health Report. It follows the successful launch of the inaugural 2014 report, which Storm also wrote and produced, in which we learnt that although people know what they should be doing to maintain a healthy lifestyle, they tend to ignore it because there are no real consequences, financially at least, for them.

This year’s 2015 Benenden National Health Report lifts the lid on the nation’s naïvety about the real cost of NHS care and shows how the public is woefully ignorant about the cost of medical technology and medical care with treatment taken for granted due to its availability and accessibility on the NHS. When we asked the public to judge the cost of various procedures and treatments, liver transplants were estimated to cost £12,279 per operation, when in fact the true cost is £70,000; abdominal hernia surgery, of which 7,489 low risk ones were carried out last year, were thought to cost £1,609 rather than the £2,281 in reality and almost half (48%) of respondents thought fewer than 2,500 gastric bands, gastric by-passes and gastric balloons procedures were carried out by the NHS each year, far shy of the real figure, which is double that at 5,443 and cost the NHS in excess of £25m in 2014.

2015 Benenden National Health Report

Medical Director of Benenden, Dr John Giles, said of the report: “It comes as no surprise that the public has a staggering and destructive ignorance regarding the cost of treatments on the NHS. As a nation we have lost touch with the role we should play in our own health and wellbeing, expecting the NHS to pick up the pieces. 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, whether that is through poor lifestyle choices, exaggerating symptoms or having an unfair sense of entitlement when it comes to the NHS.”

“The situation in which the National Health Service now finds itself is an unintended consequence of providing free or state funded healthcare and yet it is widely recognised that it cannot run a viable service in its current form. The responsibility partly rests with the Government to change the public perception of how and when to use the NHS, however, educating the public raises some unpalatable truths, which people would rather ignore. Everybody accepts that we are approaching a huge funding gap in the NHS and there is no real consensus on how that will be settled.”

Benenden’s National Health Report findings showed that ultimately, the crux of the problem is the public not taking responsibility for their own health. If people chose to look after themselves then these costs could be mitigated but, at the moment, with a completely free NHS there is no incentive for anybody to take notice. The public are more than happy to accept free healthcare for themselves but do not want to take any responsibility for it. The National Health Report findings also show that we need to encourage greater responsibility and accountability and this means taking the time to learn about good nutrition, the benefits of responsible drinking and regularly exercise. The NHS can’t be all things to all people and we, as a society, should recognise this and be more aware of the cost of appointments, treatments, operations so that we only use the NHS when absolutely necessary. Perhaps then the ailing NHS will finally be on the road to recovery.

Read the full report, written and produced by Storm.

– Naomi Matthews, Senior Account Manager