On the NHS

July 5, 2018

I try to avoid political posts, as I’m of an age where the state of our country and the world makes me want to rant. Today, however, is quite a special day for us British, and I want to pay tribute to an institution which I have been fortunate enough to be able to take for granted for my entire life.

My mother trained as a nurse and worked for the NHS right at its very beginning; one of my sisters is currently a children’s nurse in a specialised burns unit. The NHS isn’t perfect, by any means, but it’s there. It doesn’t look after my eyesight, and I’ve chosen not to let it look after my teeth. But it did wonders for my deteriorating hearing in the final years of my teaching career, and it has helped me carry on walking normally with my wonky feet. So far I’ve never needed treatment in A&E, but I know many who have. And, pace any US readers, it’s there, without any need to flash a credit card at the ambulance driver…

The NHS may exemplify the nanny state; if so, I’m all for it. If I am to have any loyalty to a state, to which I constantly pay taxes, I’d like to feel it’s looking after me in return. And there are precious few things I can feel proud of in my country today. I feel much safer with the NHS behind me than I do with all the ridiculous amounts of money wasted on weapons and armaments.

People complain that the NHS wastes money; I’m sure it does, but no more than any other branch of government – we just rarely get to hear about how much the Ministry of Defence wastes, or the Department for Education: what the NHS does is visible to everyone.

I like the idea that the NHS sprang from the idea that one of the basic necessities of life, decent healthcare, should be equally available to everyone, without anyone having to worry about the upfront cost. To me, there are quite a few other necessities that deserve a similar approach, but I won’t go into that at the moment. I said earlier that I take the NHS for granted; so do we all, I think. And it needs to be paid for, and I, for one, don’t resent what I have paid towards it. People are living longer – and I hope to be one of those – and have expectations about more complex levels of treatment than used to be available: we need to accept that all this needs to be paid for, and agree to it. If taxes need to rise, so be it.

When people talk about the nanny state and the way it ‘interferes’ in our lives, I find myself thinking that actually rather more nanny state might be a good idea in some ways: if the government is looking after us, why isn’t it being more active in regulating the junk that is sold as food and drink, and which contributes so considerably to health problems for so many? Then the NHS would have more money to spend treating unavoidable illnesses…

But I was going to try and be non-political today. I was political here, if you want politics.

So, thank you to the NHS for taking out my tonsils, for providing rose-hip syrup, orange juice and revolting cold-liver oil to build me up as a child, for the scary visits to what we called the ‘prick shop’ for our childhood jabs; for all the GP visits, blood tests, heart investigations, checking my poo for bowel cancer, and I don’t know what else. Without presenting me with a bill at the cash-desk. An organisation I have always felt proud of.

One Response to “On the NHS”

  1. Lovely post, entirely agree with you. Tonsils, kids, broken ankles, diabetes, lot to thank the NHS and its hardworking people for.


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