Saturday 3 September 2011

Save Our NHS

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.


  1. I couldn't agree more,speaking as someone who is also dependant on expensive NHS treatment.
    I get the feeling,though,that the public are being distracted by masses of compelling,seemingly urgent,big news stories.
    There's a limit to how much of this scary stuff one can comfortably cope with at any one time.
    Quite apart from the things beyond the control of the government,the coalition have made great use of this coping-limit,so to speak,by piling on the changes all at once.
    Changes which many of us are directly effected by(says he shaking in fear at the prospect of atos),which further distracts us.
    Do people have the energy to really scrutinise what is happening,or what is planned for the NHS?

  2. What is the overall Master Plan? What is the vision and end goal and direction we as a people are striving towards for ourselves and for our children – if any? We are diligently in the process of dismantling all the structures and safety nets of the hard won welfare state model that has in spite of its faults served us well since WW2. We are told they are now all unsustainable and unaffordable. Is this an admittance that the consumer capitalist model has failed or that the political model has failed? If this is factually true and not politically driven we are indeed doomed unless we can come up with a new sustainable model and soon.

  3. It is all to make the rich richer. Cameron USED the NHS when his son needed it - Now he wants to dismantle it. The man is deluded all other countries envy us our NHS, it has it's faults but in the main it is fabulous. Yet he would throw it away while turning the countrys eyes away from it by ''informing'' them of savings and how most people on welfare are scroungers and how sick people are suddenly cured by the God that is ATOS and their Lima device.

    Fact is - Putting all disabled people on jobseekers doesnt make them able, and is not going to reduce the defecit. This country has run on a defecit for years and yet Cameron assumes he is God and can fix this by attacking the sick (all of them expendable in his oh so godly eyes)

    He should be thrown out of Parliament - as should ALL Mps who lie. If you are voted in on Lies then you should be thrown out - If we cannot force those who we apparently trust to stand for us and what WE believe in (after all they are meant to work FOR us) then we may as well be run by chimps who I assume wouold do the job better and at least we could all have a plethora of bananas.


    Senior officials discussed handing the management of up to 20 English NHS hospitals to overseas companies, emails released by the government

  5. Speaking as a long-term NHS patient, I can echo the appreciation of what the NHS provides those of us who are dependent on it for our survival. At the same time, I'm sure those of us who have spent time in hospitals will be all too aware that there is a lot of waste (the routine dependency upon external agencies to cover nursing duties must cost a vast amount of money alone).

    I'm not here to beat a drum for any political party but the hospital I regularly attend was totally ruined by the last Labour government with it's PPI strategy. What was once a fantastic hospital where the patient and their care was most important, it's now a pale imitation with a shiny pointless and expensive glass entrance that would look more at home of a corporate banking headquarters. Now though, rather than patients having a choice of good food on the menu (and all of it good quality) and porters only ever a couple of minutes away, it's now a case of being lucky to eat anything day to day that's edible and sitting around abandoned in corridors while porters fill in their tracking sheets or whatever admin it is they have to do at their 'dispatch' office.

    My hospital, now strangled for 20 years thanks to Blair is now not about caring for patients, but now processes customers and only provides the bare minimum to get by. I'm sure with outbreaks of MRSA etc in recent years, my experience of cost cutting by Labour, despite their spin, is something I've witnessed for myself. The worst I've experienced was early last year where they delayed MRI scans until the next financial year (google it if you don't believe me). When you're waiting to find out whether a tumour is cancerous, there is little more distressing than your future hanging in the balance thanks to political games of massaging figures. While I've no love of any political party, I'll never forgive Labour for what they did to the hospital I attend.

    What will happen now with the current government remains to be seen, but for me it looks like the damage has already been done and perhaps if (and that seems to be a key word as all I've heard is they're spending more) they are cutting, perhaps they're trying to claw back some of the insane contracts already in place? From what I've experienced, they can't do any worse than what's gone before.

  6. We all need them at some point so lets protect them from greed. I used mine friday and was totally satisfied with the service provided i would hate to see this fantastic service abused.

  7. Anonymoous @ 11.40. I sympathise but OH YES they can do worse. I can only assume you had little dealing with the NHS before 1997

  8. I am not going to back changes that came in under New Labour, but lets not forget that the contracting out started in the 1980s under the Tories. And now the Tories appear to have come back to continue what they started in a much more forceful and frankly, I think,irresponsible way.

    New Labour faced with an anti-socialist, anti-taxation electorate, attempted to improve the health service, using private investment instead of the traditional process of raising public funds by income redistribution. It hasn't been perfect as private contracts have at times indeed ended up proving more expensive. Also the financial commitments have been easier to hide. This is an unintended consequence of following the misguided mantra that private companies do things better and more efficiently. New Labour attempted to regulate things by setting targets which sometimes didn't work well as it was too blunt an instrument and led to too much focus on financial efficiency in relation to patient care. Also all this management is expensive in itself. But alongside this was still an overall agenda of respecting the dignity of service users and reducing discrimination, inequalities etc, plus attempts to improve partnerships and co-operation between different departments.

    However what the Coalition appears to be proposing is a much more extensive neoliberal programme, basically tendering everything to private bids and there is a danger that the link between state and health provision will be removed and that the whole concept of universal, equal provision will fall away. And then it will be extremely difficult to go back.

    I think the last poster is deluding his or herself that things can't get worse, especially since he/she doesn't appear to approve of using private contracts to run the health service. What the Coalition is proposing is putting everything out to contract! And this time, it seems, without any centralised government guidance aimed at improving the service. Competition is expensive and shareholders take a slice. Whole services can't be allowed to fail when it comes to the health service, but without enough control and poor resources they can be run poorly behind closed doors. We only have to look at the recent scandals over residential homes to see that.

  9. PS just adding to post made at 13.12 commenting on post made at 11.40 - sorry to everyone that I went on a bit. Good blog!

  10. "they can't do any worse",like the slogan "things can only get better" is an utterly complacent,totally unimaginative view that licences all manner of dreadful possibilities.

    "worse" could mean no functional service for you at all.Mrs Thatcher's aim was always to privatise the NHS,but she knew it had to be done stealthily.

    This is the endgame.The Tories can hardly believe their luck that New Labour did so much to pave the way,with their use of the private sector,and so on.

    Under cover of the supposed need for cuts,which wont help the economy in any case,they are getting exactly what they want.
    Be frightened!

  11. Also just to add, the Health and Social Care Bill isn't even about cuts because the reorganisation is apparently COSTING 2 billion!

  12. Hello Sue

    Long time reader, first time commenter. I really admire your persistence and courage, and as a trade unionist, hearing personal accounts about the quality care that is being delivered by my members makes me really proud to be doing what I can to support them.

    Like many of your other readers, I am reliant on NHS care to treat a life-threatening condition. Saving the NHS is a cause for everyone in Britain to get behind and the more people like yourself who write so amusingly and eloquently about the things missed or deliberately ignored by mainstream media, the greater the chance we have of doing it.

    Hopefully the Lords will have more backbone than the MPs.

    Once again, all the best.

    Kris Holt

  13. Glad you came out of "lurking" Kris :)

  14. I came back from the US after 15 years and am constantly amazed at the NHS and the care we get which really is a gift. No more Doctor's conning insurance companies or referring you to their mates.....

    I was recently diagnosed with Bi Polar Disorder along with just having three surgeries.

    The NHS is truly brilliant


  15. Thanks for another well-written post =)

    I'm really pleased to hear stories of the NHS going right (and I know from other posts that they have at times completely screwed up your care too). As someone with a relatively rare genetic condition and a history of mental health problems, I have also been mistreated in ways that were at times life-threatening.

    Whenever I hear about these threats to the institution that I work for and provides healthcare for me, my friends and family, it really scares me. There was a lot about the NHS that needed to change, yes, but not like this. A lot of people needed the NHS to do a better job, and now things are going to get harder again. My care has already been impacted by the cuts, as has yours Sue, as has that of patients that I see at work.

    "Tell David Cameron that if he screws up my beloved NHS I'll come back and bloody haunt him."

  16. I have to agree the nhs is a great thing. The changes that I can see happening in my pct scare the hell out of me. Really intelligent people including doctors getting so fed up with the beurocracy and red tape that they are quitting this country.

    Doctors arew good at what they do. now the government is tyring to turn them into accountants and business men this is fundamentally wrong. I would be the first to admit that alot is wrong with the current pct model but it serves us well.

    So what is happening the managers and middle managers that do little or nothing are transfering to the hospitals as the hospitals now need them. What for is your guess is as good as mine. The waste at the top they want to get rid of they can't it has just moved about. The poor bloody worker is the one getitng the kicking. Some really talented people leaving the profession. People who have don'e and setup really successfull campaigns.

    Now I am being asked to setup websites for each surgery, and beat this each surgery needs to pay for the hosting and setup fees. This means instead of having one site im now doing loads of small sites. At a much greater cost.

    The plan I heard over the weekend about the government privatising upto 20 hospitals by having companies run them from all over the world really scares me.