We love the NHS

The debate in the us about healthcare seems to be getting increasingly insane, with Obama being compared to Hitler, Sarah Palin spreading lies about “death panels” and assorted nonsense. A repeat of the debate in the early 1990s when the Clintons attempted to introduce healthcare reforms of their own was to be expected, but this debate is decidely more wacky.

One interesting side aspect of this debate has been how the UK has been dragged into it. When Sarah Palin is talking about “death panels” it turns out that she is referring to NICE. Stephen Hawking, having been cited as the sort of American who the NHS would kill, has intervened pointing out that, erm, he’s British and dependent on the NHS. Meanwhile Tory goldenboy Dan Hannan has been touring the US espousing how terrible the NHS is and why they are so much better off without it. What’s all the more remarkable is that the Obama proposals are actually closer to the sort of systems we find in mainland Europe – indeed the sort of proposals that in the UK we normally associate with the right. What passes for “socialism” in the US, the Lib Dems would more closely associate with the Orange Book.

Hannan appears to be blissfully unaware of the fact that despite the fact that the US healthcare system tops the OECD league table in terms of cost as a proportion of GDP, it leaves 25% of its citizens without cover. As well as the most expensive healthcare system it also has the worst outcomes. We can all come up with our criticisms of the NHS, but at half the cost (per capita) it remains one of the best value for money systems in the world.

In politics, it is all too easy to criticise public services. There is no question that the NHS could be improved and Liberal Democrats have plenty of ideas of how to do this. The central concern we have is ensuring that the system is more democratic and responsive to patient needs. There is also growing evidence that this is linked to levels of inequality where the UK does only marginally better than the US.

But with the system under attack on the other side of the Atlantic, it is perhaps a good time to reflect on what a tremendous achievement the NHS has been over the past 60 years. One of the most heartening aspects of the US debate has been the rise of the #welovethenhs meme on Twitter. A spontaneous reaction to the bile coming over from the States, thousands of ordinary people have been spreading their own stories of how the NHS has helped them and their families. Currently this is one of the top “trending” items on twitter meaning that thousands of Americans, in turn, are likely to read about how a better funded health system could help them. Neither the US or UK governments could have bought this kind of publicity.

At the Social Liberal Forum we’d like to do our own small bit as well, which is why we’ve set up our own We Love The NHS group on our new Social Network. Why not join the group and add your story there?

See also: http://www.libdemvoice.org/here-at-ldv-welovethenhs-15891.html

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5 comments on “We love the NHS
  1. David Wood says:

    I am 72. I never earned a lot of money but happily paid a moderate amount of tax all my working life This gave me peace of mind that if I ever fell ill I would get the best treatment without fear or favour. For many years I didn’t need it but didn’t mind paying because my contibution helped less fortunate people. In the last few years I needed two serious eye operations and recently had quite a bad stroke. The prompt efficient caring treatment I received from the NHS saved me from permanent disability. Our system is truly marvellous. Right wing Americans should forget trying to frighten people with fears of socialism or even communism. Our system is built on Christian principes. What is wrong with these Americans, they always claim to be a far more Christian country than us yet their actions are selfish, greedy and decidedly unchristian. 47 million Americans without health insurance is a disgrace.

  2. Lakhwir Kular says:

    I was 32 when I had a mild stroke and I can’t praise the NHS enough for helping me to recover. I get a check-ups every six months and free flu jabs. If I lived in the US I would probably have been bankrupt by now as I’m married with young children. I don’t understand the Americans, who listens to Sarah Palins? she is a joke and Dan Hannan probably has private health insurance like the rest of the Tories who complain about their low paid jobs. Sound like they care more about there earning then the people there suppose to serve! David Cameron get your house in order!! Dan Hannan is probably a private insurance company director! Support the NHS or lose it! its up to you?

  3. GARY BRAYNE says:

    first treatment on the NHS was neurosurgery to close my Spina Bifida
    If by socialist you mean its spreads the health resources across the population than it is socialist I prefer to think that it is a great
    British idea based on compromise
    So if you want to live in a country where 45 million people literally cant afford to beill then you know where you need to go
    GO BARACK lets see some collective provison you never know
    its just might be popular
    NHS 61 and still going

  4. Paul Gosden says:

    When I was in my early twenties I had to go in to the Royal Surrey Hospital (NHS) and had to have my right kidney removed because of kidney stones. the treatment was incredible, the staff amazing and after care excellent. Im now 45
    The NHS is not perfect, but we in Britain would not be with out it. It keeps this country fit and well. The reason their is so much animosity against a NHS in the US is the power that the Private Health Care Industry has with the political arena, it boils down to money. Shame on America for not allowing all the people of their nation a decent health, they say it is the Land of the Free, Im not so sure. I hope Obama gets this bill through. I am sure a huge majority of the US citizens want this NHS to be aproved in their great country.

  5. David heigham says:

    What we pay for in the NHS is not having to worry for ourselves, for our families or for our neighbours about possible catastrophic medical bills. The NHS delivers; and does away with a lot of the bureacratic hassle thet can complicate illness in other countries.

    The NHS does not deliver better medical services than in comparable countries; and it wastes a lot of resources. The NHS remains deeply insensitive to local priorities. For 50 years its mangement under Tory and Labour governments has been medicre at best.

    The NHS is great; and how much better reults it could deliver with how much less profesional frustration!

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