I am an "end user". Sometimes I am a "customer" and sometimes I am a "patient."
I am someone who relies on the NHS to stay alive. Not only to stay alive, but to achieve a standard of life worth living.
I have severe, surgical, crohn's disease. Surgeons have saved my life many times. Medicine and the research needed to develop it have saved me too. Conditions like mine cost the NHS a lot of money. I cost the NHS a lot of money.
I have no idea at which point I am "worth it". I am blessed to live in a country where this question is irrelevant. To live in a country that never asks any other question than "can we?" Never "is she viable?" "Does she have insurance?" or "can we afford her?" Simply "What can we do for her?"
I realise that this is an enormous privilege. Nowhere else in the world could I turn up at a hospital and expect the very best care available, free at the point of care, based purely on clinical need. We are the most equitable health nation in the world.
I have a full and beautiful life thanks to the great achievements of a National Health Service and a Welfare State that allows people like me the great gift (NOT right) of equality and dignity.
Today, I had an MRI scan. I have equally expensive and brilliant tests most months and the very best doctors in the world to analyse and act upon them.
It's a Saturday and I walked into a state-of-the art MRI department and was greeted by a lovely receptionist who couldn't have done a better job. I'd got the time of my appointment confused and was over 2 hours late, but I waited just a few minutes in a pleasant waiting room. I'd only waited 5 weeks for the scan itself for a non-urgent matter.
The radiographer who conducted the test was professional and kind and the whole thing took around half an hour.
Our NHS is cheaper than other EU health systems and more efficient. Most importantly of all, it is free at the point of use. Say it again, it is free at the point of use. What a wonderful, special, amazing, democratic thing we did. What a brave and impressive thing.
This is why we must not chip away at it. Not erode it or dismantle it. All the while we can say that we still have this precious thing to be proud of, all of us, left or right, rich or poor, sick or healthy must protect it.
It works. The public love and value it.
Save our NHS.