In defence of the NHS


I have been remarkably short-sighted in terms of my posting and usually concentrate matters around the very local area where I live and work but a post on Trench Warfare and an article in The Guardian turned my attention to the arguments that are raging in the US against a universal healthcare system.

Of course, there is no perfect system where everyone regardless of income and ability to pay gets exactly what they want when they want in the manner they want but for all my grumbling and griping, I can’t conceive of a situation where the NHS or the need for an equivalent type body is seen as a bad thing as opposed to the current US system of bloated insurance payments which are, as I can see, almost artificially inflated to boast profits all around and still leave a large section of the population without the right to a minimum standard of free healthcare.


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I may be biased and so be it. I have to say that although I have been fortunate to enjoy good health, I can reach out for many family members and friends who, in through some of the most troublesome times, have received beyond exceptional and in one case, ground-breaking care with no charge incurred whatsoever, no worry about premiums or employment status, no question that the procedures that need to happen would happen when they needed it and at the hospital of choice.

The British hold the NHS dear for a very good reason – we all have a constant interaction and even the healthiest of us have had some kind of contact with it. Knowing that when a patient is discharged from the hospital which I work in, never has to pay or worrying about paying for a prescription or at the very least, when a prescription charge is incurred, there is a capped charge that is nowhere near the cost of the medication.

Knowing that I will never be in the position of having to make a decision about health care based on cost alone is most resolutely a place I want to be and a service I am proud to work in and with.

A part of me thinks, let them argue it out and fill the propaganda channels with specific examples rather than the millions of people who have had exceptional treatment and continue to do so. But then I remember that it is those who are most in need of the change who are likely to have the quieter voices.

The statistics can speak better than the facts though and although as I say, the system can be perfected although most of my complaints about the NHS revolve around moves towards more privatisation rather than fear of a socialised system. But then, I’m perfectly happy with the word ‘socialism’ and it doesn’t scare me and if that means that all citizens are entitled to the same level of medical treatment based on their need which is free at the point of delivery – I’ll  happily accept the charge.

I don’t feel that my choice is stifled and if at any point, I want to take out health insurance to access private healthcare, I am still able to do that, as a friend who worked in a private hospital for a while once told me, it was probably ok for minor things but she would never use private health care for any major medical issues.

Although it would be easy to shrug our shoulders, accept the criticism however ill-informed and say ‘you get the healthcare system you deserve’ it would be completely ignoring the fact that those making the arguments and pumping the propaganda  probably have completely comprehensive healthcare plans themselves which no doubt allow them access to the best systems in the world.

It is, as is common, the disenfranchised, the minority ethnic populations, those with the lowest incomes who have access to the.. less good.. services that will suffer. The winners will likely be those who can fund the most adverts and pay the best lobbyists.

5 thoughts on “In defence of the NHS

  1. Excellent blog. Right Winged America appear to have attached themselves to our NHS, in the same way they did to Communism, and later, Islam. Attack it, on the basis of half truths and utter slander.

  2. That’s exactly what’s happening, FD. I heard a radio interview with a woman who was protesting the reform in her home town. Her response was that she was “terrified” of what Obama is trying to do to her country. Terrified of what, exactly? How is it bad to make it an even playing field for everyone on the issue of health care?

    What I’m terrified of is that Obama will stop pushing, lose political capital, and come up with some next-to-worthless compromise that still greatly benefits the insurance companies over everybody else.

    The ultimate problem, the REAL trouble, is that all of our lawmakers have to come up with all kinds of money to run their campaigns. Five years ago, the number stood at $400,000.00 (about 242 thousand GBP). Who knows what it is today. Most people don’t have that kind of capital to fund their own campaigns and so the turn to places and people who do: the uber rich and corporations. In turn, those corporations have lobbyists, who do everything they can to squeeze the lawmakers into voting in favor of the corporations. All they have to do is threaten to pull the purse strings tight.

  3. I had a conversation with a trainee midwife the other day at work regarding whether people should pay or not. I am wholeheartedly NHS, but have to say that those who can afford to pay should go private/or pay the NHS if it is specialised treatment. I am of course speaking about the people who are earning mega bucks, drawing the line of entiltlement would be a job and a half. Though I guess sorting admin out regarding that matter would inevitably mean installing yet another computer system that the NHS can ill afford. All I can say is I am thankful I do not live in America.
    BTW on a different subject I got a Distinction for my OU course in Health and Social Care. I am aiming for a Diploma, possibly a Degree in the subject, then see if I can get a foothold in Social Work training. I am also starting voluntary work with a day centre for the elderly.Most of the clients have some form of Dementia, something I am interested in.

  4. I heard a story on PRI’s The World the other night defending NHS, too, highlighting how those opposed to health care reform in the U.S. are using their portrayal of the NHS as a straw man in their argument, without really any regard to presenting it accurately. I’m glad to see a social worker in the UK sharing your own experiences.

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