Today marks the 70th birthday of the National Health Service. It’s a birthday worth celebrating, and it conveniently falls on Throwback Thursday. The NHS isn’t perfect, but what is? It’s something one easily takes for granted. Up until the point when it is needed, when it suddenly becomes a life saver that it worth every penny. Where it is found to be lacking, one will normally find a Tory ‘reform’ or cut-back at play.

There are a good number of Tories – and don’t be surprised to find they are mostly the same bunch that call themselves Hard Brexiteers – who’d like a privatised health system. I am reasonably confident that, while they managed to dupe 17 million people into voting for Brexit, they’d struggle to get even close to the million mark in a referendum on the future of the NHS. And unless there’s a wholesale change in attitude towards the NHS from the Tory party, it is inconceivable that I’d ever vote Conservative.

We look at the United States for ‘inspiration’. And we find ourselves asking the question: do we want to adopt a health system that costs more than twice the price, yet leaves millions without cover, plenty of people bankrupt, and all but the very wealthiest in genuine fear of ever needing to actually use the system. Unsurprisingly, the question garners very little support for the ‘Yes’ camp.

I’ve used the NHS on a number of occasions, and it has always been brilliant. As a very young kid, I had a number of operations on my ears. I spent a week in hospital with an arthritic hip when I was about six. As a teen, a suspicious lump appeared on my back. I went from GP surgery to operating table, via an MRI scan, within a couple of weeks. The suspicious lump was a calcified by product of my excessive milk drinking habit.

The NHS is something to be genuinely proud of. And thankful for. To say that life is precious is easy – those words roll as smoothly off a politician’s tongue as their promises slide into the trash basket. But the very existence of the NHS is a statement by our society there is no greater gift than life.

The photo: clearly not as old as the NHS, and it’s not even from these shores. Alas, I seem to be short on snaps of British hospitals in my photo library. I took it in Mexico, of course. It is one of the murals in La Raza hospital.



4 thoughts on “#TBT NHS

  1. “But the very existence of the NHS is a statement by our society there is no greater gift than life.”
    Well said and that’s pretty much it. Our attitudes here are neanderthal by comparison. When we finally come to our senses we will simply put your NHS on a copy machine, tweek it a little bit to fit, and adopt the thing. I pray — literally — for that to happen.


    • I pray — literally — for that to happen.

      We pray to different gods amigo, but we both pray for the same thing. If yours doesn’t see fit to deliver a common sense health policy, perhaps the Flying Spaghetti Monster will come up with the goods.


  2. Colm says:

    Our health care system is similar to the NHS but we do contribute to it. Recently the government halved the monthly fee to $75 from $150, and that is for the two of us! Certain things are not completely covered including drugs and an ambulance to get you to emerge on time but it is great to know that it is there for you should you really need it. The last company I worked for I paid about 300 a month for full coverage, optical, dental, medicines and the usual. Since throwing in the towel last year however I will have to cover those myself.
    My mother in law had a hip replacement and my father in law had triple bypass. Both were covered completely whilst in hospital and all their follow up examinations too! My sons have had a variety of soccer injuries, broken ankles, wrists and thumbs all covered.
    A pal of mine in the States hit a deer while riding two up on his Gold Wing a couple of years back. Lost his house, and both their trucks, his work shed and tools and was $300,000 in debt by the end of the month. He and his wife had multiple surgeries and both were transported by helicopter at $10,000 a piece. He went back to work three months early with a fractured spine. His medical hardly covered his doctor’s visits. He says he will never get out of debt.
    Considering Canada has a population one tenth that of the US and can still offer affordable health coverage it saddens me that our cousins below the 49th parallel are so poorly served by their government.
    We are both very fortunate!


    • Like I say the NHS isn’t perfect, but it’s better than most. It’s not free- there’s no such thing, obviously. But it’s free at the point of use, which is the point. The prescription service is perhaps the best in the world. You pay £8 per prescription, regardless as to what the drug is or how much it costs. If you’re unemployed, a child or retired, they are free. Cancer outcomes are not our strong point.

      Healthcare in the US is an example of how capitalism doesn’t work. There’s a ton of reasons, I guess. But I’m mightily suspicious of the way insurance works, in any industry. Frankly, so long as they maintain their margins (which they largely do) then the more expensive everything is, the better.

      And then there’s Mexico. I tire a little of the ex-pat stories lauding health care in Mexico as the best thing since sliced bread. The headlines should read: “Shock as wealthy foreigner discovers that prices are lower in developing country with a severe poverty problem.” Mrs P’s extended family is a number of people down, due to treatable conditions which were simply too expensive for them to have seen to.


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