Third World NHS? Get a grip!

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Tabloids comparing the sainted NHS with the conditions faced in African Hospitals is not only offensive to both sides but another example of the hyperbolic nature of all discussion surrounding healthcare.

We just need to look at the ridiculous rhetoric that has been used in the whole “Obamacare” debacle with the Republicans to see how manipulative people can be with the way we discuss health care providers. It’s part of the real “operation fear” that cuts through our politics and media to make us afraid and scared of everything. The truth is that the Tories will be secretly rubbing their hands at all the bad news coming out of the A&E statistics as they can justify more of the selling off and stealth privatization of our National Health Service.

But all the parties are jaded and deluded on this subject – as is much of the public. We see a great creation, possibly the greatest achievement of the 20th Century in UK politics, and think it should continue as normal even though it is being stretched and ground down under the increasing demand upon it. Take the issue of free prescriptions – in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland you don’t have to pay for your meds. Why? Even a token of £2 or £3 would make it a revenue coming into the system. Yes there will always be exceptions but it seems silly to close A&E departments across the country when there is another way of bringing in money being ignored.

You could charge those who miss appointments, charge a fee for a home visit, a nominal G-Docs bill. The truth is the current system plus and aging, overweight and increasingly unhealthy nation cannot continue. To look back to the late 40s and early 50s and pretend that the same structure supports today’s very different demographic is wrong. But we shouldn’t pull the whole thing down either.

There needs to be another way – what about those who earn a certain amount get private health insurance as part of their pay packet? Or could we stop closing front line services and get rid of all the Quangos and overpaid consultants instead. Removing management is not a clever move because the system needs structure but there will always be fat that can be trimmed.

To compare our health service to what is happening in places like Sierra Leone and in the malaria hotspots of sub-Saharan Africa is an embarrassment – many areas and countries in Africa would love even a tiny amount of our resources – water, electricity or beds even. We have a great health service but it does look like it’s developing a terminal illness which will see it torn to pieces and lost to the next generation – this cannot happen. We need to save the NHS, but accept the changes that need to be made – unless you want to pay and extra 10p in the pound in tax purely for the NHS?

Didn’t think so.

JD

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