If there is one thing worth fighting for, it is our NHS. It is the saviour of so many and the pride of Britain.
I would guess that most of you reading this in the UK will have accessed NHS services at some point. You will have accessed NHS services free of charge, except for the odd surcharge like prescriptions, but most of us can cope with those surcharges and we have/had a benefits system that would support those who couldn’t.
I worked for the NHS for about three and a half years and so I am more than aware that it is not perfect, but let’s face, what is perfect? We cannot possibly have a system that is perfect because humans are such complex beings and illness and injuries vary so widely that not everyone will recover, not everyone will receive the treatment that they should have had in hindsight.
Everyone has heard of the headache that turned out to be a brain tumour, and I have bet that you’ve heard of doctors ‘wasting’ NHS resources by having people tested for brain tumours when it was only a headache. The media vilify the NHS because there is always a story there. They just never tell you that it was a one off and so push the tinkermasters into changing things.
The NHS was there to provide palliative care for my great-grandparents, they have been there to provide emergency care for members of my family and my friends. I can remember being eight years old and in hospital to have the first operation that I could remember in my then short life following an accident on a football pitch. I am sure I was scared, I am sure my parents were even more scared for me, but my one memory however vague, is of the emergency team carefully taking off my new Sheffield Wednesday shirt bought for me by my Grandmother because I didn’t want it cut off. They showed amazing tenderness towards a young boy had an arm so badly broken that it needed to be operated on, and I am sure that their actions comforted my parents. I also remember telling a male nurse that he was like Charlie from Casualty…
I have worked at an NHS Trust, an NHS Foundation Trust, the National Patient Safety Agency and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. I am proud to have worked for each and everyone one of them because above all, the people who worked in them cared and used their skills to provide the best possibly support to communities in need. I am proud to have served with everyone from community nurses to the chief medical officer, and all in between. I do know that things can go drastically wrong, just look at Mid-Staffs, but I do know first-hand that our NHS does really work, and it really works for us.
Despite my pride in having worked for the NHS, I have in recent years turned down employment at the Department of Health under this Government because I cannot in good conscience promote their destructive tendencies. I would rather be unemployed then sell my soul to this Government.
Days before the 65th birthday of the NHS, health secretary Jeremy Hunt, announced that he wants to charge non-EU immigrants for using the NHS. It is well known, or at least by anyone who has been bothered to speak to NHS staff on a local level (how about it eh Jeremy?) that non-EU immigrant populations can be incredibly hard to reach, and making them aware of the healthcare provisions available to them is an uphill challenge. This policy would immediately let pockets of illness flourish within these communities, it could leave us facing a range of new problems in all corners of society. Remember, disease isn’t a respecter of wealth and privilege. Given that we spent £10 million on Thatcher’s funeral, I am really not fussed about whatever amount of money it takes to keep people healthy.
Populist policies above the good of the people…
The legacy of this Government will be lies and destruction, it will be torment of the poor and disenfranchised and it will be a helping hand to the rich. Above all though, this Government will be the one that is forever known as the one that nearly killed the NHS.
I call on Ed Miliband, Andy Burnham and Ed Balls to make sure that if they grapple power from the elite in 2015 that they take the time to revive this great institution.
Whichever way you vote or however much you profit from the NHS by forcing its privatisation, there will always be an ambulance crew who will risk their own lives to save yours. There will always be a trauma team who have dedicated their lives to learning the skills needed to save yours and there will always be nurses who will not rest until you are recovering and comfortable.
Maybe if they weren’t there, maybe if your child died because you’d not paid your insurance premiums, then maybe, just maybe, you would think again before letting the Government sell the NHS down the drain for their own personal profit.
I want to thank everyone, from porter to consultant, from receptionist to nurse and all the others who dedicate their lives to helping others. We really do value you, respect you and we do stand with you.