I’ve just returned from visiting a surgeon friend in the USA. He’s into dogs so we had lots to discuss but they weren’t the only topic of conversation.
Along with the forthcoming Presidential election we discussed our respective national healthcare systems.
The stories he told were truly astonishing. He outlined the case of an executive who suffered a serious stroke at the age of 53.
He’d been thrifty enough to have considerable savings plus private health care.
Although his immediate treatment was covered his insurer met only 80 per cent of the subsequent medication. After 15 years of ongoing treatment he was left penniless.
Another case involved an 11-year-old girl who broke her hip falling down a flight of stairs. Her single mother was so afraid of the medical costs she refused to take her daughter to hospital and the fractured hip was not discovered for several painful years.
While care will almost certainly be given for immediate medical emergency, any subsequent treatment is unlikely to be forthcoming without a guarantee of payment.
Hence, many patients are unable to obtain ongoing support or medication unless they find the means to pay.
Families can and do lose their homes following accident or serious illness. I found this all the more chilling knowing these were not anecdotal but the real experiences of a friend I knew to be a compassionate practitioner.
I don’t know the nuts and bolts of President Obama’s healthcare bill.
I do know that some very powerful self-interest groups are working tirelessly to sabotage his plans. Needless to say, none of these groups represent the poor, sick or dispossessed. There are an incredible number of scare stories in circulation warning of dire consequences should US healthcare be available to all. Most of which could be dismissed out of hand were they not so sinister in their intent.
Thank God for our NHS, with all its imperfections – no one goes bankrupt providing care for loved ones in the UK.
Of course, I’m not saying we should stop trying to improve the service or fail to criticise failing hospitals, but I do believe we should fight to make the NHS the best it can be and demand to know how every penny is spent.
Most of all I believe we should be the guardians of our NHS campaigning against every cut-back and closure.
Complacency is the enemy. If you are fearful of cut-backs don’t complain to your friends and family – write to the Express, annoy your MP, start a petition or organise a demonstration.
Do not allow your NHS to be eroded by political ideology and ineptitude.
Remember what happened to Parkside Hospital, a facility providing care for more than 1,000 patients, ‘reformed, modernised and improved’ out of existence? That didn’t happen overnight. Political parties, of all persuasions, snipped, cut and closed until no services remained.
They didn’t replace it with a new modern facility…they sold it off to developers.
Fight for your NHS services while you still have something to fight for.
The alternative is too dreadful to contemplate.