Wednesday, 30 September 2009


Sure, it ain't perfect, but in my opinion, the NHS doesn't deserve all the criticism it's been getting lately. That's right, you heard me, I am a fan of the NHS. Come on, is it so beastly to believe that universal healthcare should guarantee every citizen the right to medical aid, regardless of their inability to pay? Unfortunately, some would argue that it is – particularly our FOX News-watching, hamburger-scoffing, Starbucks-swilling American cousins across the pond.

I know some may think this is hardly a local issue, but unfortunately, it is. After all, Daniel Hannan, MEP for South East England, was the man who appeared on U.S. TV to criticize the NHS as a “60-year-mistake,” sparking off a huge public backlash against him. It's also worth mentioning that Daniel Hannan is certainly no stranger to our political neck of the woods after he rubbed shoulders with Laura Sandys (prospective Tory candidate for South Thanet) to discuss their mutual opposition to an EU proposal to regulate recreational fishing. He has also given Laura Sandys a worrying vote of confidence by calling her “the liveliest, friendliest and hardest working candidate in England” and encouraging local people to vote for her.

Therefore, with all this criticism of the NHS by Daniel Hannan and FOX News being taken into account, I couldn't help be slightly amused by a short little N.I.B. for the Thanet Times (that's “news-in-brief” for those of you who aren't aware of journalistic lingo). According to the article, a 67-year-old American gentleman recently had a heart attack aboard a cruiser called the Seabourne Pride, prompting a Ramsgate lifeboat to swiftly come to his aid. He was then whisked away by ambulance to a nearby Thanet hospital for treatment.

Would I be the only one to find it funny if this old yank happened to be a staunch Republican who believed that a national health service is an inhumane affront to his individual right as a free human being? In other words, do you think this poor old gentleman would resent the fact that the NHS – a system founded upon the values of universal healthcare (which right-wing protestors in the U.S. are currently opposing) – actually saved his life? If this old chap fully recovers, it'd be nice to get this his thoughts on the big ol' media frenzy back in the U.S.A. which has placed our NHS under unfortunate scrutiny.

Obviously, the NHS does have its critics at home (Daniel Hannan being one), and not just abroad, but my main point with this blog entry was to highlight the fact that our healthcare system does not discriminate between those of poorer or richer backgrounds – it is a safety net for everyone. So, if MPs oppose that core ideal, then it'll be almost as bad as watching an old man die bleeding on the floor and demanding his pin number to steal his cash before calling 999. Is that what we want our healthcare system to be based upon? Smash 'n' grab job surgeries? Not for me, thanks.

Therefore, I do feel this issue is of local importance, largely because infamous NHS critic Daniel Hannan does hold some sway among the Tory political elite in our local area, judging solely by his association with Laura Sandys. In fact, it might alarm you to learn that Laura Sandys' website appears to neglect to mention her views on healthcare, but her connection to Daniel Hannan should raise some suspicion and may possibly discredit her candidacy. Unless, of course, she releases a public statement rebuking Hannan like Cameron has, although I certainly won't be holding my breath. Then again, one lives in hope.


  1. You have a great point. I think the NHS is a great advantage and anyone who classes it as a 60 year mistake, is either rich or very stupid. From my personal experience the NHS has been excellent and to say that the US gives better healthcare is rubbish. Having been on both sides of the healthcare, if you are ever unfortunate enough to require healthcare assistance in the US, the first question is "Have you got Insurance?" so it is more like a business than a healthcare facility. At least in the UK you feel that your health is first and foremost. Don't get me wrong I am not tarring the individuals with the same brush, and I expect anyone entering as a doctor or nurse, is not the least bit interested in the politics of the system. But the UK has been brought up with the NHS and the US with covering healthcare through Insurance. Isn't it funny how 2/3 of the Conservative party support tax relief on private health insurance and Daniel Hannan states that.

    If tax relief is available for all the private health care customers, then how two-faced are the Conservatives.

    Very much a local, valid and worrying point Luke. God help us if the Conservatives get back into parliament if those are some of their opinions.

  2. Contrary to what most people over here believe, there IS free emergency health-care in the USA (at least according to author Bill Bryson).

  3. I don't doubt that some U.S. states have a small number publicly- or government-funded healthcare measures. But I guess the issue is why the U.S. is the only developed nation in the world which doesn't have a nation-wide system of universal healthcare. Possibly because it's too big, I dunno, but generally, the World Health Organisation's statistics do spell the need for America to adopt widely acknowledged policies of universal healthcare (and not necessarily socialized medicine, per se). I just don't understand their fervent opposition to the NHS, that's all. It's more ideological than logistical, I think.

  4. Oh and Peter, I'm a fan of Bill Bryson. I remember reading in his book "The Lost Continent" in which there was a chapter where he visited a gravely ill friend in an American hospital. I believe that his friend was told there was only a limited range of treatment options that his insurance company was prepared to fund.

    So although Bill Bryson says there is free emergency health-care available in (some quarters of) the USA, I'm not so sure such measures are widely in practice across the whole country. After all, as I said, it is a very big place. As an Anglophile, It'd be nice to know what Bill Bryson thinks of the NHS, don't you agree?