The media today has been filled with stories celebrating the 70th Anniversary of our National Health Service. I too would like to pay tribute to the fantastic work of all those who have or are working and volunteering to build and maintain the UK’s greatest national institution.
The principle that people should be able to access healthcare, free at the point of use, seems to me one of the basic tenets of a civilised society and we often find ourselves looking with puzzlement at the US and their private healthcare system. Yet, aside from a few small-scale versions run by Labour councils, at the time the NHS was created the notion was revolutionary, and vigorously opposed by the Conservatives.
Today all the main parties publicly claim to support the NHS, but nice words cannot hide the fact that the service is currently in a critical condition. Crawley’s Clinical Commissioning Group, which is responsible for paying for all our treatment locally, has been in financial ‘special measures’ for the last year, unable to afford the cost of meeting residents’ medical needs on the budget the government has allocated us. Meanwhile, local GP surgeries are oversubscribed to the point of breaking. If things go on like this the NHS will not last another decade. So, if politicians really want to praise the work of our NHS, then wouldn’t the highest praise really be safeguarding the service for the next generation.