Sunday, 16 January 2011

Save Our NHS

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


  1. I agree with every word of this. It's so obvious that this whole thing is a con, and it's very worrying that mainstream media are so silent on it. The whole country would be up in arms if only they were aware of what's going on. We need to make sure everybody DOES know what's happening. Thanks for the post.

  2. Whilst I agree with your concerns about the privatisation of the NHS, you don't make a very good case against it or provide any idea of alternatives. Let's be real here. Things don't come out of thin air - of course there is money involved. You wouldn't want to work for no money would you? The NHS is intrinsically involved with private companies. They set the cost of so much of the NHS already and I wouldn't be so naive to suggest that NHS managers, doctors and surgeons all work for the benefit of the patient. They don't. Do you buy the best or the cheapest? Do you buy the easiest or the best? Do you buy from the person who brings you cake? Do you buy from the person who'll pay for you to have training or take you to play golf? The theory of competitive healthcare recognises this aspect of the NHS. I believe it is a flawed theory as do you, but until you consider this argument and look to provide some alternative, it just reads as hyperbolic sentiments that caricatures conservatives and anyone in business into 'cartoon nasties' and feeds into a view that people opposed to them expect something for nothing.

  3. I am not a politician, it is not my job to come up with alternatives.
    I know the NHS needs improvement. In fact I mentioned that.

    When it comes to buying the cheapest this is where the private providers come in. They WILL be able to provide the cheapest because they can afford to. Until there is no need to anymore. Then they can charge what they like.

    There is always money involved of course. I just don't believe it should go into the hands of private providers who look to make profit over and above all else.

    If you believe the new reforms are flawed then will you encouraging a no vote? Will you be lobbying your MP to vote against it? This is what it needs. Then they can come up with reforms that will truly be in the country's best interests. Instead of the private firms shareholders.

  4. I don't know much about the internal workings of the NHS but taking away accountability seems a terrible idea.

    Also, GP's most certainly do not know best. I've met some GP's who are awful. The thought of having them in charge is quite horrifying.

    And here's a thought - why not pay nurses a decent salary, go on a recruitment drive and stop paying an absolute fortune to agencies to cover the shortfall in staff?

    And I made no comment about the Conservative party, just one of them. Though they have proven themselves worse than the nasty party of old. Indeed, the PFI was the first step towards privatisation and that was under Labour. Maybe the coalition should try doing something about that

  5. Surely if you create a blog and start acting as a political campaigner then you can't be surprised when someone takes you up on your argument and asks you what the alternatives might be. It's a cheap cop out just to say 'it's not my job'. 'The glee in their eyes' is just an easy cheap stereotype where you make it personal. The NHS is already reliant on private companies. You can't run healthcare without the equiptment and treatments to help people. The conservative government always work on the principle of competitive tendering to promote better care. I happen to disagree with this principle and think it doesn't work but there are serious arguments for why it might. There will be logic or an ideological principle in the conservative argument for making these changes. You would do better to engage with that rather than easy shots at those nasty evil people 'circling like vultures' with 'glee in their eyes'. That doesn't get anyone anywhere.

  6. Maybe it is a cop out but does that mean one can't have an opinion without offering an alternative?

    Of course there is logic and an ideological principle in the Tory plans, they wouldn't be able to push them otherwise. I just believe they are wrong. One only has to look at America to see what a price competition based system does. I don't think anyone wants that.
    Saying they have glee in their makes it personal? I'd say it's true. You don't think the healthcare companies are delighted about these reforms? Of course they are. It's their chance to come in and make money. If you don't think the bosses are gleeful about that then you are naive.
    I will engage with anyone who puts forward an argument. The language I choose to use is my prerogative. And when it comes to private healthcare firms who look to make money from people's pain then it will not be pleasant.

    You claim you don't like the plans either? Then why are you not putting forward an alternative yourself?