When my mum was diagnosed with cancer, she saw an oncologist within days of her diagnosis. She was treated at one of the world’s leading cancer hospitals, and had surgery performed by two of the world’s leading surgeons (each in his own field). She had plastic surgery to reconstruct her breast after a mastectomy.
She was offered the opportunity to trial advanced chemotherapy which not only prolonged her own life, but dramatically changed the survival rates of women like her all over the world.
She was moved to hospitals outside her postcode in order to take advantage of these new and revolutionary treatments, each of which added months and years to her dramatically shortened lifespan.
Seven years after her initial diagnosis, on a weekend – when the senior doctors aren’t in the hospitals, and the NHS is supposedly at its worst – the cancer dramatically and suddenly metastasised in her brain for a third time, causing a massive seizure, which she never recovered from.
The newly qualified, junior doctors and the nursing staff who cared for her – and her family – during these final days were nothing short of superb.
All of this care was provided free at the point of service, as part of the NHS.
During this seven year period, I came into contact with a great many other people who had family, friends and themselves been diagnosed with cancer. Most had the same or similar concerns as me and my mum.
The Americans in our situation did not. They were worried about how they would pay for their treatment. They worried about whether their insurance company would cover their treatment, or whether it would only cover part of it. They despaired as their insurance cover was dropped due to ‘pre-existing conditions’. They worried about affording chemotherapy prescription copayments, and – perhaps most horrible of all – they worried about leaving behind tens of thousands of dollars of medical bills after their death.
This is the intolerable, horrific world we are protected from by the NHS.
This is how the NHS saves and protects all of us every single day. Each and every Briton knows that he does not need to worry about his healthcare; that his medical bills have already been paid for.
We have had this wonderful state of affairs for so long that we have begun to take it for granted.
There is a misconception that the NHS is bloated and inefficient. We currently spend 9.8% of our GDP in return for (according to the WHO), the 18th ranked healthcare in the world:
Americans pay nearly 18% of their GDP for their healthcare – which is ranked 37th.
The NHS may not be perfect – but we should rightly feel proud of what it achieves on a daily basis.
Which is why Lansley’s toxic health ‘reforms’ are so utterly intolerable.