Sunday 16 August 2009

A Missed Opportunity

The explosion of spin-manufactured outrage over Dan Hannan's NHS observations this week was noted at the Puddlecote residence, but it seemed overkill to say much when better bloggers can calmly deconstruct the hysterical wailing and gnashing of teeth unaided.

As I'm a bit bored, though, here are a few thoughts.

The one thing that is hardest to understand here is how the NHS is apparently only lovable because it is 'free'** (as was the general thrust of politicos like Prescott). And that, by extension, the US system must be unlovable and inferior because it is mostly reliant on an individual's responsibility to arrange adequate health provision for themselves and their family (ie not 'free').

If your granny was saved from some flesh munching disease by any health body, whether paid for or not, you would love them (providing you actually loved your granny in the first place, of course. If she is an insufferable old witch and they had delayed your inheritance of a huge wad and a pile of property in Hampshire, you'd perhaps be praising through gritted teeth). Even double-glazing companies can show you glowing tributes and gushing enthusiastic letters of undying affection from customers, many of whom may well have been unwittingly screwed over for the £thousands they paid for their conservatory installation.

The measure of how a health service is 'loved' is irrespective of how it is administered, but on the care that is derived by the end user. And no matter how much rabble-rousing tweets can be elicited by the #welovetheNHSwereallydohonestly campaign, the simple fact is that, if you ask just about anyone in this country about their true experiences of the NHS, you will find that a majority have been irked, irritated, angered or downright enraged, at some point, by the way they have been treated.

I'm afraid that, yet again, our largely cretinous British pleblic have stifled what could have been a very useful public debate about how the NHS could be improved in the wake of Hannan's comments. The scaremongers screamed foul, invoked the spectre of rain waters babbling around dead poor people in our cities' gutters, and the twatter generation jumped predictably on Labour's political bandwagon ... before making a nice cuppa and settling down to 'stenders.

If the masses could have raised their knuckles from the carpet long enough to notice that a golden opportunity had presented itself to them, they could have used it to send a message to the NHS.

The message being, "We are quite willing to love the NHS, but by golly have you lot got to buck your pigging ideas up, OK?".

The NHS, and the UK health professional community in general, have long since forgotten who are the employers in this arrangement, and who are the employed. Agnès Poirier highlighted one irritating aspect in the Guardian this week, that of the pressure heaped upon motherhood.

The broadsheets' endless gloomy reports and interviews with frowning British obstetricians, together with the tabloids' horror hormonal stories about serial miscarriages and Dickensian tales of "if I knew then what I know now" from childless menopausal women seem to all have but one aim: put an almighty fear in women. All this scaremongering in the country with the highest teenage pregnancy and abortion rates in Europe! British women can never win, it seems. They're either out of their wits procreating too early, using abortion irresponsibly, or have simply lost it by leaving motherhood too late.

For British women, the nightmare doesn't end here though. Once she is pregnant, she has to go through other diktats: she should absolutely not eat raw food, avoid vegetables and fruits at all costs unless cooked to a compote pulp; run away from camembert, brie and mayonnaise, keep to cheddar only; forget once and for all about shellfish and not even dream of having a drop of claret. If she doesn't do as she is told, she's just mentally deficient – worse she is immoral. Then, when she has successfully given birth and stayed no more than a few hours at the maternity clinic, in a Victorian ward with a dozen other mothers with screaming infants, she's sent back home with the absolute order to breastfeed but without having been shown how.

Agnès tends to blame the media for most of this, and there is an argument to be made that they should be more responsible, but then they are only printing what they are bombarded with by a legion of health pros who seem to think that the best way to run the NHS is to pay shitloads of money to ... err ... health pros, to force people into lifestyles which mean they will never need to use the NHS.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Even I could learn to love the NHS if it was designed to cope with the way the public lived their lives, as was the original purpose. Instead of which, we have an incredibly bloated, intrusive bureaucracy, presiding over a regime which seeks to change the way people choose to live, in order to fit in with the budgets provided by government.

The supreme irony being that, if the highly paid health pros and lifestyle advocates were thrown bodily from the hospitals, there would be funds aplenty to fix the public when they were ill, however they decide to legally behave in a free society.

Bring in an element of competition for funds, and the hectoring GP would think twice, the surly receptionist would frantically shuffle schedules to afford you an appointment when you need it, and disgusting bigots like Jane 'They'll just have to die' DeVille-Almond[mp3] would have no better health job prospects than sweeping the wards.

The NHS, as it is currently set up, richly rewards administrators over front-line carers, encourages pomposity and contempt of its users, promotes waste and inefficiency, while becoming more expensive and politically correct by the day. All funded by the taxes of the working at pain of imprisonment, and with no effective opt-out except for the fairly rich.

Paradoxically, by not offering the same opportunity of choice in healthcare to all levels of wealth, and by adhering to a system that is more than six decades out of date, Labour are inflicting their ideological frippery on all but the very people that they tend to dislike.

And the pleblic, by meekly surrendering to a xenophobic campaign whipped up by the lefty spinmeisters, are ignorant of the power they could have wielded this week if they had chosen, instead, to demand an end to the shit treatment they moan about on a daily basis to their friends and relations.

** It is, of course, not free unless you have never worked.


Frank Davis said...

Jane 'They'll just have to die' DeVille-Almond sweeping the wards?

I wouldn't want her sweeping the streets even.

BTW, congrats on your well deserved 9th place in the blog poll. I'm a regular reader.

Barking Spider said...

Cameron doesn't have the balls or integrity to back up Hannan, Yesterday, I hoped he was just trying to keep his powder dry but now I am really not sure at all what he stands for. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't vote for Labour , EVER, but I do wonder what game, exactly, Cameron is playing. He should have backed Hannan, or sacked him.
Let me just say that I wish Dan Hannan was the Tories' leader, rather than, Call Me Dave!

Anonymous said...

It certainly in not free for the 'health tourists'
It is the International health service.
Many prescriptions given to families that are here are immediately posted out of the country by the bag full.
The service needs scrapping and people from abroad should be made to pay for their treatment if they have never contributed to it.
These expensive drugs leaving the country should be given under medical supervision and not posted abroad.

Anonymous said...

"They'll just have to die". An almost-unbelievably stupid way to make yourself a hostage to fortune.

Didn't notice the bus coming, Jane? No? Oh, sorry, you'll just have to die, then.

helend498 said...

The NHS is certainly not free. It costs me a fortune every month - 4 times more than private health insurance (ie, proper care) would cost me.
The NHS is evil; it does have death panels and post-code lotteries; it kills people (was it over 70,000 this year I seem to remember).
The NHS needs a massive overhaul starting at the top.
I do feel very sorry for the majority of front line staff though. It isn't their fault that their industry has been overtaken by zealots and money-making machines.