We too need change in the National Health Service in this country. Change is constant and the demands for healthcare continue to outstrip supply worldwide.
What has been very irritating on this side of the pond (to me at least) has been the barrage of myths and scaremongering about the NHS from politicians and media in the US who clearly know very little about our NHS. There are numerous right wing doomsayers trying to scare people in the US about the 'dangers' of universal health care.
I am always the first to admit the NHS has its faults and I am as critical as anyone when things go wrong for patients and families. On the other hand I have yet to see evidence from any credible healthcare research organisation that shows a universal healthcare system anywhere in the world that is better than the UK National Health Service. Universal is the key word.
The following quotes highlight why we in the UK can be proud of our service despite its deficiencies.
"In the US-based Commonwealth Fund's 2008 healthcare rankings of six top developed nations (Australia, Germany, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom and United States):
The United Kingdom ranks top overall - and ranks above the US in all but one measure - yet has the lowest healthcare spend per head of population.
The USA ranks sixth overall - ranking bottom on five of the nine measures along with having the lowest life-expectancy and highest infant mortality rates by far - despite spending more than twice what any other country spends on healthcare (and, at $6,102 vs. $2,546, almost three times the spend in the UK), per head of population."
And yesterday from world famous Professor Stephen Hawking in the Daily Telegraph:
"Professor Stephen Hawking defended the National Health Service from attacks by the American Right, claiming that he would not be alive without it. The British physicist spoke out after Republican politicians lambasted the NHS as "evil" in their effort to stop President Barack Obama's reforms of US health care which will widen availability of treatment but at a cost to higher earners who will pay higher insurance premiums. "I wouldn't be here today if it were not for the NHS," he said. "I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived."
I don’t think the people of the US need fear universal healthcare if it comes your way. Even David Cameron the leader of the Conservative Party in the UK said this today:
Tory leader David Cameron, who has pledged to protect the health service from public spending cuts, also sought to distance himself from Mr Hannan's comments when he was tackled about them on a walkabout in his constituency.
He told BBC News: "I support the NHS 100% and the Conservative Party supports the NHS 100%.
"We are the party that gives the biggest amount of support to the NHS. It is incredibly important to my family. It is incredibly important to this country."
He vowed to "nurture the NHS" if he came to power, "and improve it and make sure it is there for everyone in this country".
Finally I want to say that this unusually long post is not meant to try and persuade US citizens about anything. Clearly it is the decision of the people of the US and those who govern to design their new healthcare system.
I would just ask my many friends in the US not to believe the nasty, unfair, unjustified and often simply untrue madness that is being written by right wing media and politicians on that side of the pond about our National Health Service in the UK.
All my friends in the US are rightly concerned about the crisis facing their healthcare system and I hope that by sharing the best practice on both sides of the pond we can mutually find the right answers to what is actually a world crisis in healthcare.
Regular readers of Simplicity Blog know that I will I will defend the principle of universal healthcare with my last breath because I think it says a lot about my country that access to healthcare is not dependent on wealth.