Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 5th June 2019

We’re regularly told not to ignore symptoms, that catching something early gives treatment its best chance of success, and we have probably all lost someone who left it too late. That’s why the NHS regularly runs public awareness campaigns to ensure we know the warnings signs of life-threatening conditions and can act while there’s still time. Yet, when it comes to the health of our own NHS, we all too readily ignore the warning signs.

One of the problems in politics is issues tend to be complex yet as people have so many other things on their minds it tends to be tough to get the key points across to the public. As a result, where problems exist campaigners play them up to get the public’s attention. Yet, after a while, people numb to the warnings. We can’t all operate in panic mode all the time and if the consequences take time to make themselves apparent, it’s easy to relax even while problems continue to get worse.

A classic case of this is Climate Change, pretty much everyone accepts it, acknowledges the consequences couldn’t be more serious, but since extinction still seems a long way off and cars are really convenient, few people change their lifestyle much because of it.

In the case of our NHS, we have received regular warnings that it is in crisis, but voters’ actions haven’t matched that seriousness. When GPs got harder to access people didn’t act, when GPs started refusing new patients and shutting surgeries people didn’t act, when the Winter Crisis on the wards became a year-round crisis people didn’t act, when treatments started to be restricted due to lack of fund people didn’t act. With medical professionals regularly stating the NHS is on the brink of collapse, what will it take? Yet, it gets worse.

Now we’re told that far from getting £350m a week for the NHS from Brexit, Trump wants the NHS be on table as part of any future trade deal with the US. Is that taking back control? Is that a crisis for our right to free healthcare?

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