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.