Richard Hall Online

A Methodist Minister Blogging like it’s 2006

On the NHS

I’m reminded by JuneSim63 that today is the birthday of Clement Attlee, founding father of Britain’s National Health Service.

As Prime Minister, he enlarged and improved social services and the public sector in post-war Britain, creating the National Health Service and nationalising major industries and public utilities. Attlee’s government also presided over the decolonisation of India, Pakistan, Burma, Ceylon and Jordan, and saw the creation of the state of Israel upon Britain’s withdrawal from Palestine.

It would be difficult to overestimate Attlee’s contribution to post-war Britain. Our NHS, which provides free health care at the point of need is rightly a source of pride. It isn’t perfect, of course. But the Tories opposed its introduction in the first place, and they have spent the last 12 years systematically messing it up, so we shouldn’t be too surprised there are problems. What we should be is angry — angry that a service that has been the envy of the world has been so badly abused, angry that the dedicated nurses and paramedics who care so much have been driven to take strike action, angry that the leaders who encouraged us all to ‘clap for carers’ during the pandemic are now refusing to talk to their unions about their grievances.

I had two brushes with the USA’s healthcare system in 2002. That’s a long time ago, and I accept that things then may not be as they are now. But it was enough to convince me that privatised healthcare based on personal insurance is no substitute for a properly funded public service. Our NHS won’t be safe until we have a government that properly cares about it.






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