I am lucky to live in the U.K. – American friends have told me that if they were in my position then the treatment I have received would have bankrupted their families. Even my limited time in Kenya over the Easter weekend showed me just how expensive health care can be. A weekend of testing and hospital treatment cost us $600.
The National Health Service (NHS) is a British institution founded after World War Two by the Labour Government, it’s basically acts like common insurance policy into which we all pay while we work (Nationsl Insurance Payments) and which should we be unfortunate to fall ill provides us with free health care at the point of need.
The NHS is amazing and yet after 70 years or so since it’s inception it is coming under strain. As people have lived longer and diseases have found cures the strain in the NHS has increased. More treatments and a bigger population has its costs. I have shared this video before but share it again here as testament to the pressures.
Sadly over recent years and especially under the most recent Conservative Government there had been a real terms deacrease in spending on the NHS. This has put critical pressure on the institution. Budgets have been cut, the pay of health workers frozen or severely capped, all under the guise of austerity. Additionally many services have been privatised.
Today is Election Day in the U.K. and the Labour Party (opposition) is promising to fully find the NHS should they win. Other parties are equally willing to increase funding with one exception, the Conservative party, who wish to continue austerity whilst at the same time reducing taxes – it is a sad state of affairs that due to our electoral system and some very bias press they may still win the election. If they do more it’s will follow and the NHS as we know it will cease to exist.
My personal hope is they don’t and that sense will prevail, that people (especially young people) will bother to vote and will vote for public services over tax reductions. Then hopefully NHS will continue to go on in strength for many years to come.