The NHS at 70: The greatest thing the UK has ever done
I am a clumsy man and I am not athletically gifted.
I’ve always tried to take part in sports anyway. This has therefore led to many injuries.
I’ve broken my wrist, three fingers, a rib, and been knocked unconscious; I’ve had stitches in my hand and two operations. I’ve written before about my issues with mental health and the NHS has been invaluable to me then as well.
When I was a child my mum went into hospital. She had throat cancer, subsequently had a stroke and spent the better part of a year in hospital including significant time in the intensive care unit. My dad's torso is a mishmash of different scars from various - some life-saving - surgeries. My brother somehow managed to avoid any significant injuries or illnesses but decided to become a doctor. Maybe he felt left out?
This is a long-winded attempt to make you understand that without the NHS my own health and my family's finances would be ruined.
In other countries, government mandated insurance helps bridge some of these gaps. On a personal level, friends of mine who live in France have, for example, been reluctant to go the doctors given the upfront fee if you're uninsured.
Although this can later be claimed back, that’s little comfort when you have no money in the bank and need that cash now. It also just adds to the anxiety of being ill. You can't just focus on getting the treatment you need when you know you have to pay.
The NHS turns 70 today and I can say with all conviction that I believe it to be the greatest thing the UK has ever done.
I am no fan of the United Kingdom or the modern British state, however, the ability to access health-care - free at the point of use - for all regardless of income, employment or living situation is truly remarkable and something we cannot take for granted.
The Tories and their mates have been trying to gut the NHS for years. Those with extreme wealth don’t need to worry about universal healthcare for two main reasons. 1) They can afford to pay and 2) They are less likely to need treatment.
For a while now we’ve seen think pieces about ‘gutting the sacred cows’ from right-wingers who claim that they don’t dislike the NHS; they’re just not fanatical about it. The NHS has issues they say, and we need to seriously consider how we replace or reform it.
Ask any of these folks what the issues with the NHS are and they’ll tell you: staff are overworked, overstretched and underfunded. Bloated by admin and bureaucracy.
This nonsense ignores the fact that overworked, overstretched and underfunded workers and services are not a flaw in the system that is the NHS. They are are a purposeful, deliberate and systematic attack designed to weaken what is probably the only good thing the modern British state has ever done.
Funding is an external issue to the NHS. The NHS does not exist to create profit and requires money to be granted from the government and from taxes.
If staff are overworked you increase the allowance and hire more staff. Centrist liberals desperate to prove how ‘open-minded’ and ‘reasonable’ they are by conceding on these points just give ground to the right-wingers.
The NHS has exactly one problem and that problem is a lack of funding.
Protect the NHS. Recognise it for what it is. A miraculous piece of compassion, responsibility and shared good in an increasingly hostile and individualist United Kingdom.