Updated: Nov 23
My body is a bit rubbish. Sometimes it does not do the things it is designed to.
I have a neurological illness that means some days my legs don’t want to walk, some days my arms aren’t fit for hugging and sometimes I can’t see.
And it’s amazing. It is amazing because it reminds me constantly how amazing the human body can be. It is the key to a treasure chest of reminders of what an incredible structure I inhabit. There is not a single day passes where I am not overwhelmed by how amazing it is to be able to place one foot in front of the other, to be able to see the colours of a sunset or to be able to hold a door open for someone. I have this brilliant in-built tap on the shoulder to be grateful for what I have, as these things could disappear in the blink of an eye, quite literally. Every time my body does what I would like it to, it is like a butterfly landing on your hand on a summers' day. Every single time. Being able to move my fingers to type this is nothing short of magic.
Why am I telling you this? Because the reason I have been able to find the glitter in the shit is in grave danger.
The only reason I have been able to find gratitude, if not joy in illness is because we have a National Health Service that is built upon care. The fear of the repercussions of the end of the NHS as we know it, ironically, makes me feel sick.
I am looked after, assessed, examined, supported, prodded, poked, handed drugs, written to, phoned up, chopped about, talked to and listened to.
It is so important, I’ll repeat that. For free.
Because I am not bound by invoices, I am at liberty to get on with the important stuff, like living.
But it is not always like this, and we are on the cliff edge of a health business which will be run like the banks: with money as the motivator behind every decision.
There is absolutely no doubt that if private healthcare firms are involved in the choices medics are able to make about your health, the foundation stone is profit, not well-being. Businesses are designed to make money. They are not designed to care.
I am under no delusion that the NHS needs a first aid kit, but for this to be pushed by companies who have a responsibility to their shareholders to make as much profit as possible is simply paradoxical.
I have seen glimmers of what a health service ruled by money looks like. It is sleepless nights; it is a pain, and it is being offered quick-fix drugs, not long-term prevention. It is death.
I see this already in the understaffed, overworked and under resourced waiting rooms in hospital, after hospital, after hospital.
I see it in my GP’s eyes when she tells me she would love to help me more but that they are simply not allowed because of budget restraints. With a flicker of regret that betrays she knows full well the words she is forced to utter offend the Hippocratic oath.
My mum died earlier this year. There is a drug that would have extended her life. A drug that is widely available in Europe and America, but it was not licensed in the UK as it was deemed too expensive. My mum was very poorly, but she was a fighter. The fact remains very clear: my mum is dead right now because of a decision to save money.
If you want my mum’s story to be the exception, not the rule, you need to act, and you need to act fast. This is the very last chance we have of a National Health Service and not Health Business Ltd.
We are fast approaching midnight on the NHS. Every single action counts.
My mum would not forgive me if we let the NHS die without a fight.
If we allow this government to desecrate what so many fought for, we will never get our NHS back.
If you think market forces are a good thing, please look at the railways. The government have no mandate to make the biggest changes to the NHS since its creation – and they are not listening to the public nor the professionals who are opposed to them.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said, “The NHS is institutionalised altruism. Generations to come will never forgive us if we let this bill pass.”
This is the fight for our lives. Save Our NHS.
A decade later update: The Health and Social Care Bill passed.
What MPs must know before they vote to wreck the NHS by Polly Toynbee http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/sep/02/nhs-bill-what-mps-mu…
Block the Bridge video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5-hi4FG-dQ