I've been reading quite a lot of US - based blogs recently, and the debate about the US plans for what seems to be a very watered down version of NHS is a very lively topic at present.
As a Briton, I am of course utterly dumbfounded by this. Some US commentators seem to think that the NHS is some sort of awful warning to Americans.
(Re-reading this, I realise that I might be coming across as trying to prescribe to Americans what they should be doing. That's not my wish - I just wanted to make the point that the NHS actually made proper health care available to Britons of low to average incomes for the first time, and has become a central part of the UK cultural landscape. I just rather objected to the system being misrepresented as a bad thing in someone else's argument - as here and here. My life expectancy as a UK citizen is rather greater than that of a US citizen. Much of this is due to the UK's much lower infant mortality rate - 4.8 per 1000 births, compared to the US 6.3 per 1000 births)
The NHS is the sole reason I am here to post today. 16 years ago, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer, and within 24 hours had been admitted to hospital, given 9 pints of blood to replace all that I had lost through the perforation in my gut caused by the cancer, to get me fit to operate on, and then had my hemi-colectomy performed. I developed a pulmonary embolism as i recovered, and that was also quickly and efficiently dealt with. So, the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy saved my life twice in a week and I remain eternally grateful to them.
Now, as a diabetic, I receive all my prescription drugs free of charge, along with regular checks both of my diabetes, and for any re-occurrence of the cancer. As I am unfit for work, the government pays my National Insurance contributions so I remain eligible for this help.
We are about to have an election in the UK, but it is a given that all political parties will declare total support for the NHS, which is probably the most popular government institution in Britain.
It's a shame that nowadays we don't have politicians of the zeal and character of the people who created the NHS out of the post-war wreckage of the late 1940s. Something to hope for when we all make our choice, presumably in May.
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