There are few things I am really proud about when it comes to the United Kingdom, we have lived mantle of colonial power and now of an almost Banana Republic without the Bananas – the truth is either nowhere or somewhere between those points of view, to be honest I don’t and I don’t care, but I do know that the National Health Service is the shining jewel in our collective national history, and that is being whittled away until it becomes a publicly funded private health service.
Bevan said a lot of things about ‘our’ National Health Service and we must, like the lost Empire tell ourselves of the stories of the struggle to give birth to this institution and the reasons why it was so desperately. My late Grandmother was born in 1909 and she saw first hand what it was like to live in poverty and in fear of being ill, she saw the malnutrition of the Depression and survived two Global Conflicts and a Cold War, and she would never use the Health Service, to her dieing day, because it cost money, Bevan, the founder of the National Health Service knew of the fear caused by the private medicine, to him no cost was too high for him. He famously said the following, unremitting, honest comments about any opponent of the NHS – normally the Tories:
What should be the glory of the profession is that a doctor should be able to meet his patients with no financial anxiety
We should not be fearful to grow old, to be weak, to fall on hard times, it happens and we must believe in society, but society is an empty word that means little, the final nails of the Thatcherite edifice are being put in place, everything, even our health, has to be subservient to the ‘market’ – for ‘market’ read big business, no longer we people, we are consumers to be exploited but also to further our own aims, and we are no longer our brothers keeper. This is what Thatcher wanted to acheive, and though she did not realise her nightmare utopia she started the long slide into a chaotic self-centred orgy of consumerism, for this I will forever despise her politics of greed, as Bevan said:
No attempt at ethical or social seduction can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party… So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin.
Much of what Bevan said rings like a clarion call of social justice and a critique of life half century of after his death, a prophet if you will, but I still hear his sentiment
The Tories always hold the view that the state is an apparatus for the protection of the swag of the property owners… Christ drove the money changers out of the temple, but you inscribe their title-deed on the altar cloth.
The question has to be, and it has already been answered, what will be the first priority of the private companies providing health care in the future – the shareholders or the patients?
We only have to look at how Cameron is ‘playing the Church’ talking good with the Big Society(read “In the Country of the coalition where the hypocrite is King”) and playing with the fabric of care, society and social responsiblity. To me the greatest fundamental change that has the coalition will make is that it has destroyed the social fabric – the post war settlement between State and Country, as great in many respects to that of the Magna Carta, the National Health Service, the Welfare State, was the settlement, it was the payment for the service to country, it bound us all together, it was the jewel of the United Kingdom.
The ideological thuggery embarked upon is opposed by the people and the Parties voting for it, such a fundamental change in society should be put to a referendum – I believe the National Health Service to be the single most important societal organisation ever, we need it, we cannot afford to take risks, and they will not publish those risks – why? Yes, it was an act of ideology that bought the NHS into existence opposed by the Tories and rammed through Parliament – but I didnt’ hear of any people marching against it.
The National Health service and the Welfare State have come to be used as interchangeable terms, and in the mouths of some people as terms of reproach. Why this is so it is not difficult to understand, if you view everything from the angle of a strictly individualistic competitive society. A free health service is pure Socialism and as such it is opposed to the hedonism of capitalist society.”
“NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it”