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article imageOp-Ed: UK NHS under further attack from Tory led government

By Eileen Kersey     Nov 16, 2013 in Health
Kingston Upon Hull - Saturday news that UK Health Minister Jeremy Hunt is to announce jail terms of up to five years for doctors, nurses and NHS managers who are found to have willfully neglected or mistreated patients paints a terrible picture of the NHS.
Next week Hunt will announce a new law which is aimed at preventing a repeat of the Mid-Staffordshire hospital scandal.
The Mid Staffs hospital trust was put on special measures following a series of failings. The time-line of events reported by the BBC paints a damning picture but also highlights that the government spent £6 million submitting evidence to an inquiry.
Tory minister Hunt announced a range of NHS reforms this week but are they really about improving the National Heath Service or damning the system in the public's eyes, making attempts at implementing privatization easier?
American mainstream media is currently dominated by the Affordable Health Care Act, widely known as Obama-care. In fact it is fair to say that to outsiders the US seems obsessed with that issue.
Here in the UK free health care at the point of entry has been our proud boast for many years but current reforms by the Tory Liberal Democrat coalition government of the UK are putting services under threat. In fact, as the USA grapples with issues hindering affordable health care for all, the UK looks towards an increasingly privatized health system.
This writer is from the generation of Brits who have known nothing but a "free" National Health Service in the UK. The NHS promises to give free health care from the "cradle to the grave", not in one fell swoop of course. Private health care is available in Britain if you prefer, but you do not need costly insurance plans, credit cards or cash if you fall ill. Simply turn up at your G.Ps, General Practitioners, or in the case of an emergency at the A & E, Accident and Emergency department, of your nearest hospital and you will receive free treatment.
In reality it is not free as National Insurance contributions taken from salaries pay toward the NHS. However in 2013 costs are escalating, the system is bogged down with bureaucracy and privatization by the back door is hitting services.
Working for the NHS, in ward based administration roles, for more than 13 years opened my eyes to waste and poor management of funds by some. It did not however deter my belief in our health care system which for me remains the best in the world.
It does not trouble me that I have never had children or a raft of major health problems needing costly treatments. That is what the NHS is all about. Sadly for most of us "our time will come".
That said when I needed cataract surgery the treatment was speedy, successful and free. An appendectomy likewise.My daily thyroid medication is also free,as it falls into a category of exemptions. Those medications that are necessary to sustain life. Sure the list should be expanded but it was created many years ago. It may need amending to keep pace with modern medical advances but it does not need to be scrapped.
If you pay for your prescriptions you will be charged £7.85 for each item but there are old age, child plus means tested exemptions.
Personally I like our system which feels almost like a cooperative. You may not need a wide range of health treatments but your son, mother, or grandfather may. To dislike such a system is surely selfish?
The NHS was created in the late 1940s and it now struggles to keep pace with an increasingly aged population and modern technology. That does not mean it should be privatized but it should be managed better.
There is a common saying expressed when you work for the NHS. "Work here long enough and you will see each change come around again" and of course each set of reforms wastes money.
Having seen under staffed wards due to government cuts, on the whole many nurses deserve a medal for sticking with it.
Currently the government is placing the care of the nation back in the hands of GPs. Yes, that is an old chestnut and has been done before.
What the NHS needs is consistency rather than successive governments using it as a political tool, pulling it this way and that and trying to feather the nest of their supporters.
With a Conservative dominated government in the UK in 2013 changes to the NHS are more about "helping" investors and Tory supporters than improving health care. They are about ravaging the system so that the only positive improvement will appear to be full-scale privatization. Well I have news for you PM Cameron it is not and we are on to you.
In July a Daily Mirror Poll revealed that 82% of Brits polled "believe David Cameron has done nothing to help the NHS since he became PM".
Back to looking across the Pond. If there ever was a shambles that proved the NHS was an excellent system, look to the USA and its health care. Too many companies looking to their profit margins and somewhere along the line the poor and vulnerable are forgotten.
My conclusion is support the NHS and do not let the coalition damage it beyond repair. Remember to bear in mind that each announcement regarding the NHS now is about the Tories winning the next general election.
Who do you trust? Not the Tories I say.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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