I love our NHS. Last year when I went to my GP complaining of numbness from the waist down she sent me straight to the hospital. I saw some lovely nurses who made me comfortable, then a very nice doctor who didn't make me feel too embarrassed when she had to check in certain areas that no-one should ever have to see.
She booked me an MRI - for the following day. When one of my American friends needed an MRI for suspected cancer he had to wait till he could afford to pay for it. That thought makes me shudder. Luckily it wasn't cancer. But what if it had been? He could have died by the time they raised enough money to pay for the scan.
Yesterday another American friend posted a link to an article from an Arizona paper where a child had an emergency transplant surgery cancelled because of budget cuts.
I saw a tweet where a 5 year old boy was selling his artwork to pay for cancer treatment.
This shocked and horrified me. What sort of world do we live in where people can't get life saving treatment because they can't afford it?
Up until last May I would have been relieved that, thanks to the NHS, it could never happen here. Except that now, there's every possibility that a few years down the line, it could.
Andrew Lansley promised he would protect the NHS. Now he proposes to dismantle it. He doesn't word it like that of course. The word 'privatisation' is never used lest we should realise what he is up to. He tries his hardest to make it sound like he is doing this for the patients, using terms like 'GP commissioning' to fool us into thinking it will be about us.
What it really amounts to though is the gradual demise of the NHS and the introduction of private healthcare companies. Mr Lansley thinks that the NHS should be financially competitive. Enter the private healthcare companies. The NHS will have to shrink to make way for these companies and GP's will be able to refer patients to whichever hospital offers the best care. Sounds reasonable right?
Except the private firms are profit run. They can afford to spend a few years offering the same treatment but at a lower cost, which the GP's will jump at because they have a budget to deal with. The NHS will be gradually squeezed out. Once the risk of going else where is gone, these companies can then set the prices they want. Who will be able to complain when there is no other option?
GP's should be focusing on patient care, not budgets and financial concerns. So either patient care will suffer or they will employ outside help. Once again enter the private firms.
Make no mistake, these firms are out there, circling like vultures, ready to pick at the carcass of the NHS. One can also see the glee in their faces, the pound signs in their eyes. Give it 10 to 15 years and wham, bam, welcome to the New America.
I for one think that healthcare should never be linked to profit. People should always come first. With private healthcare this is not their concern. They are a business, they are there to make money. That's why they exist. If there were no money to be made they'd vanish.
And Mr Lansley knows there are risks but refuses to release the details. He claims it will impede ministers. I am cynical enough to think it's probably because he doesn't want to give the public information to use against him.
The NHS is a fundamental part of Britain. It needs improving of course, but it is there for all of us, whenever we need it. It doesn't matter if we have no money, if we are rich or poor; in the NHS we are all the same.
This is why we must save it. I don't want to live in a country where my fellow citizens could be denied treatment because they can't pay. I don't want to live in one where money is the first concern over someone's wellbeing. One where someone could die while they save up the money for an operation.
So I will fight for our NHS. I hope you will too.
These sites can help you fight
NHS Support Federation
Keep Our NHS Public
38 degrees Save Our NHS