Benn, Bevan, Attlee and all of us.

With the brilliant Tony Benn seriously ill and staying in an NHS ward, and having spent the past few days at one of our leading London NHS hospitals, I am grateful (yet again) to Aneurin Bevan and Clement Attlee for the NHS. I am also grateful to the incredible support from those we know really well, those we know a little bit and those we hardly know at all, who have rallied around us, sent messages offering help, food, transport, laughter. To me this is a microcosm of what socialism is, helping each other while helping ourselves. We know that lots of our friends are under pressure financially, have sick partners, elderly parents or siblings or children who need care. We know we are not alone in sickness and in health, and yet the extreme and wonderful gifts of love and care that have come our way, make me want to rise up and ensure that the NHS is never taken away from the people.

We all knock the NHS at some point, ultimately they are incredible, giving us a service many countries envy, paying their staff little while giving us so much. And yes, not everyone has great experiences, that’s the case with private health care too, but when private health care fails (I know from experience from a relative) it’s the NHS who literally mops up the mess and comes up with the goods. And some do care for others all the time, while others don’t or don’t know how to. For me, this has been a huge lesson in the kindness of everyone we are in contact with. It’s not hard to be kind, it doesn’t cost much if anything.

I also think that often it’s a case of (as with most things), if I’m not affected by it I don’t care. But without the NHS…this country will go downhill quickly. There are some who abuse the system, there are some who abuse every system and they make it hard for the really needy, they give the Tories good reason to privatise everything. Health and education, pay the staff properly so that the young can grow up with a sense of aspiration, a sense of responsibility, towards themselves (health) and each other and the world (education) and make the place better for all, not just themselves and their immediate family.

And then –

Sitting in a clean, bright ward on the 8th floor of St Thomas’ hospital, only too aware that across the river people I didn’t elect make decisions they think are best for all of us, I was and am worried for our incredible health system, worried for us. Talking to a plastic surgeon in relation to Stella’s procedure, she explained to me that in America, insurance companies pay the same to surgeons whether they create new breasts from the patient’s own tissue OR give them silicone. It’s faster with silicone, so surgeons do that, more operations a day means more money for the surgeons. Not every patient has a voice or someone to speak out for them, not every surgeon is money motivated, but I cannot imagine living without the NHS. Can you?

One thought on “Benn, Bevan, Attlee and all of us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s