Thank Heaven, and Clem Attlee, for the NHS

A red rose as it is St George’s Day. Also Shakespeare’s and Turner’s birthday.

Red Rose

Red Rose

It’s a big day tomorrow. I have an appointment at the fracture clinic. The snazzy dressing Nurse Ruth made for me three weeks ago is looking pretty scuzzy now. The blue bit is fine, but the edges are frayed and grubby. I’ll spare you a photo for the moment.
I am hopeful that the x-rays are going to tell a good story; healed bones and no nudging pins. Certainly I am far more confident with the exercises. The first time I removed the cast I was terrified of doing damage. I felt that my hand might just fall off. Now, I am relaxed enough to let my skin have some post exercise air and it has slowly been looking less dry, though today another layer is ready to be sloughed off.
Octavia reckons I may just be sent home with some tubigrip which would be amazing.
I’ll see a physio tomorrow too, and then I guess they’ll be booking me in for a series of sessions.
I understand last night’s Question Time saw another attcak on the NHS. We are, I believe, being slowly primed to think that the NHS is no good and we would be better off with private health insurance. The papers regularly carry health service sacre stories. Well, here is one from the other side of the pond. I met a man who worked in insurance in the US. He asked me about my wrist and I explained about the fall and then waiting a day for the op. I was told at the hospital there is a window of around nine days when they can perform surgery to fix fractures like mine. The man told me that in the US some people do not get that surgery as their insurance companies argue it is not necessary and that window of opportunity passes. He had worked on cases like these. He was shocked when I said we are being fed these anti NHS tales. I was shocked by his story.
Here’s another. Not from across the pond, but from London when the NHS was introduced. My mother told it to me. She was nursing before the NHS, during its introduction and afterwards. She was immensely proud to be part of it. Women from poorer families often never saw a doctor. Money would be found for the men, the major wage earners, and for the children, but women were expected to manage. When the NHS began, they turned up at the hospital where my mother was working. They had prolapsed wombs; their wombs hanging outside their bodies between their legs. Only a simple procedure was needed to remedy their condition, but it was one their families had been unable or unwilling to afford. Free health care made, and continues to make, a huge difference to women’s lives.
Born into a generation that has always taken free health care as a given, it is easy to forget how dire things were for the most vulnerable in the past. We are increasingly encouraged to view people who visit their GP regularly as scroungers and malingerers. Much is made of those who abuse the system, and yes, those people do exist, but every time it comes down to facts, we find those abuses are far less widespread than some newspapers would suggest. The same is true of the much hyped health tourism stories.
Instead of sniping at the sidelines, and destroying a service founded on the principles of free health care at the point of use and clinical need, we should be thanking our lucky stars we live in a country where, for now, this service exists. And the next time someone suggests we would be better off with private health service, ask the to explain how profit margins improve care. It is easy to declare we cannot afford the NHS. I contend we cannot afford to let leave health care to those who would make money from it, whose ideal patients would not include the frail, the vulnerable, the most needy, the poor.
Outside our old health centre there is a quote from Cicero: The Health of the People is the Highest Law. My friend Celia says politicians should have it tatooed on their foreheads.
I liked this letter in The Guardian newspaper at the beginning of this month too. When Helen Holt gives the call, we should all rush to man the barricades.

Every NHS doctor, every day, sees a disproportionate number of patients with illness caused by poverty and the associates of poverty – smoking, obesity, alcohol, drug use, domestic violence. The NHS should be predominantly paid for by those whose privilege is to need it least. Then it will be there for all of us when we need it. This is how tax works.
Dr Helen Holt
Consultant physician, Bournemouth

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21 thoughts on “Thank Heaven, and Clem Attlee, for the NHS

  1. We too have free healthcare. But our system is really a joke. People are on waiting lists for years, once they make it on. I have a friend who needs surgery on her knee. She can’t even get on a waiting list until she is in a wheelchair. I hope that you don’t lose what sounds like a much better way.

    • That sounds like where we are headed. The NHS will be run down to a point where it is not fit for purpose, where any part if it that might make money is sold off to private companies. Those who cannot pay will slip further and further through the net. We are creating a new underclass. It is terrifying.

      • We already seem to have that new underclass here…and it is terrifying. People who can’t find work, people working two.three jobs and still not making ends meet. But ask our government and it seems we are ALL doing fine.

        • Selfishness is the new morality. So people who have don’t feel they should share. People who haven’t, feel it’s fair game to play the system and that leaves the most vulnerable people with nothing at all. I blame Margaret Thatcher.

        • It seems we have a lot of Margaret Thatchers running around still. I know my own government is full of them. Greedy, selfish, uncaring bastards the lot of them. They look down on the poor, the mentally ill, the addicted, as they sit up there in their million dollar homes. It makes me sick.

        • That did ruin my morning Isobel. But you know we have similar things in place here. They make people who can’t work [for many reasons] feel useless. That friend I told you about with the knee. She is in pain all the time…needs a walking stick. Her last job had to let her go because they changed the rules and she was no longer able to sit to do her job. Now she is hounded to get another job, no-one will hire her when they see her [her injury and disability is so obvious], but the government says she should have a job. We live in a rural area…there is not a lot of work. She has begged them to help her get her operation…within a few months of that she will be back to normal. They say that is another dept., but then make her feel like she is a slacker. Grrrrrrr

        • Here part of the problem, I believe, is when they spilt departments, eg Health and Social Security, so they compete with each other over budgets, trying to palm costs off to each other instead of having a joined up approach.

  2. I adore the idea of the NHS. The idea that everyone contributes and everyone benefits because that is what a group of people bound together by fate do: take care of each other.

    Wishing good outcomes for you tomorrow. I had my last physical therapy session this morning. We departed in the sincere wish to never see each other under these circumstances again and I gave her chocolates. Still another 2 weeks until the surgeon (we hope) officially signs off. That will be 14 weeks since I tripped up the staircase.

    Try to get the hot wax for the physio warm up – your right will look 10 years younger than your left after a few sessions. On the other hand (heh), the dip in hot/dip in cold water has the opposite effect.

    • The NHS is gradually being snipped away. More about targets than care. Ghastly. We should be on the streets.
      Thanks for the tips.
      I have also been told by another who fractured her wrist to try to put my palm flat against the wall when I am standing under a hot shower.

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