There are several important areas where a country’s government can be judged as to whether it is successful or not. Most important is defence, another is the standard of education for all, another is law and order and whether everyone feels and is safe.
But right up there at the top is people’s health, and that means all people, not just the relatively few who can pay to go private – and jump an ever-growing queue.
Britain was the envy of the world when, on 5th July, 1948, the NHS was born, providing free health care for all. Prior to that people had to pay, or, if they were lucky, were admitted to hospitals financed by charities.
But that high ideal of providing free health care, or care from cradle to grave, has taken a severe battering, and never more so than during the last 13 years that the Tories have been in power in the UK, sacrificed on the altar of spending cuts.
Hardly a day passes without hearing on the news of another crisis in the NHS, massive waiting lists for hospital appointments and treatments, waiting for ever on the phone just to get an appointment with a doctor, or people with raging toothache going to dreadful lengths to pull their own teeth out. Listening to it seems like stepping back 100 years to Victorian Britain.
While other countries appear to have long passed their own Covid crisis, Britain has a long way to go before it’s back to pre-Covid hospital waits.
And what is the Government doing about it? Ask anyone caught up in the current NHS disaster and they would say absolutely nothing.
And why? Because they are all right Jack. What seems so obvious now is that a country cannot have a hospital service which is free for all plus a private hospital service available for those who have fat wallets, or those who opt to have private health insurance or are in jobs where employers pay for that luxury.
Just imagine, if we had an NHS as its founding fathers intended, millions would not have to waste money on private insurance and in so doing keeping an insurance industry.
And anyone who thinks that this dual health system is a fair and just way of providing a modern health service is either totally selfish, stupid or just couldn’t care less because they can run off to Harley Street or go straight to a private hospital.
Nurses, junior doctors and now consultants have been voting for strike action for months and it’s not just about pay, it’s about working conditions, because they can see for themselves how the NHS is bleeding to death.
Tories have for years been privatising the NHS around its edges, refusing to listen to staff who have, for years, been complaining that wages have not kept pace with inflation. Tories seem more than happy to watch as fewer and fewer dentists continue to offer NHS treatments, offering only private appointments, or packing up altogether and quitting Britain to practise overseas. And if something is not done soon, we are going to have a new generation with rotten teeth because parents cannot afford private dentistry on top of all the other rising cost of living pressures.
Back to the crisis in hospitals. A consultant in the UK gets paid an average of about 110,000 pounds a year, and more if he undertakes unsociable hours work.
Compare that to the salary of an MP who gets 87,000 pounds basic plus allowances and all manner of perks. Now ask yourself, who is more valuable to society, an MP or a doctor who is saving a life or relieving someone’s pain every day? How dare these miserable MPs deny a sensible salary increase to doctors while they are so generously paid.
It is an absolute nonsense that a doctor can earn double his or her salary by crossing the border into Southern Ireland, or to work in Canada, Australia or New Zealand. A few years ago, the NHS was attracting staff from abroad. Now Britain is haemorrhaging staff to overseas countries at an ever-increasing rate.
Personally, I would like to see an end to private hospitals, private nursing homes, private dentistry and doctors allowed to have private patients. Oh yes, taxes would have to go up to pay for it, but just imagine what would happen if the filthy rich had to queue up alongside the poor to get an appointment to see a doctor, or get their teeth fixed.
Imagine what would happen if royalty, Lords, MPs and every one of the super-rich were told he or she had to wait in an ambulance outside hospital or in a corridor because there was no bed available on a ward. The self-interested rich would be pouring money into the NHS at such a rate that once again it would be the envy of the world in no time.
I was saddened to hear Tony Blair , firstly agreeing that the NHS was in a parlous state, but then going on to say that there should be more private sector involvement in the NHS, saying there should be “complete cooperation between the public and private sector.”
Sorry Tony – it seems that as people get older and richer, they forget their socialist principles and turn blue. What you suggest will not prevent queue jumping and leave the poor at the bottom of the pile, as they were before 1948.
People in power in Britain need to take a long hard look at where the country is going and realise that if something is not done very soon the country is not going to be worth living in. The NHS crisis is symptomatic of a disease which, for too long, has allowed the rich to get richer and the poor (and lower middle classes) poorer, resulting in millions of people having to put up with sub-standard care.