Thursday, August 13, 2009

I love the NHS because....

Over the last few days a viral campaign on Twitter has been in full swing in which British people are proclaiming why they love the National Health Service. The campaign is a reaction to attacks on our system by American Republicans, eager to discredit Obama's plans for health reform. According to them elderly people are left to die and health care is meted out on Nazi-style lines.

I don't recognise the Republicans description of a system which, although we know it's flawed, is still one to be envied. Over the years I've benefitted from treatment for my asthma and exemplary obstetric care (a couple of times in harrowing circumstances and delivered with great care and sympathy). Recently Flora spent two weeks in hospital with appendicitis, my best friend is currently receiving excellent and dedicated cancer care and my grandmother was given compassionate palliative care towards the end of her life. This represents care right across the age range, all free at the point of delivery with nobody forced to live with concerns about payment.

In my own family's fairly recent history, children died because the family couldn't scrape together the money to pay a doctor. A relative was a friend of Aneurin Bevan and many of us have worked for the NHS. It's a system that runs through our veins, even though we acknowledge it's not always perfect. What decent person would want a return to the days when your chances of a healthy life were determined by the size of your bank balance?

I personally feel a real stake in the NHS, that it is fundamental to ours being a relatively civilised society where the good of the many still holds sway. So yes, I do love the NHS. Long may it reign, warts and all.

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