After a long summer of being distracted by …. festivals, sunshine, parklife, picnics …..we jumped back into action last weekend with not one, but TWO Letters to the Editor in Saturday Guardian and Sunday Tory….(sorry) Telegraph. Win.
And now as if the summer of love had never happened, we’re at the eve of the third reading – the point in a Bills transition through Parliament where MPs vote on whether it is ready to enter the House of Lords. To celebrate (I use that term ironically) this exciting (irony again) evening, I ventured to my local town hall to watch a screening of “The Return of Fear” a new 40 minute documentary on the Health & Social Care Bill.9391]
Ahead of the film’s screening, Larry Sanders, (Oxford East councillor and passionate NHS campaigner) opened the meeting with some choice words on *bastard* private healthcare providers and *incompetent* politicians. His fervor was followed closely by film producer Anne-Marie Sweeney who gave an equally fruity description of our decision makers. These guys were emotionally pumped campaigners, dedicated to the NHS with unadulterated affection.
I wondered in the seconds before the film started whether with all this NHS campaigning we’ve got a bit dewy-eyed over our healthcare service. Long-standing health activists can be heard using words you’d use to express love for the family pet. Even I, someone who has been campaigning on healthcare since I started university, was feeling a bit uncomfortable by it all. And we hadn’t even passed the titles screens.
But then the film rolled on, and I found myself enveloped in its stories. First up, the mother of young boy suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Second, residents of an old people’s home facing closure.
I was beginning to warm up.
But it was when the final story began unfolding, of King George A&E in Ilford, that I really got going. Not only did King George give me my first memories of being in hospital (yes, this is where I confess that I am an Essex gal), but it struck a cord right in my limbic system about my family, my childhood and my first real motivations of wanting to become a doctor. The film beautifully demonstrates the community groups fighting to keep it open. Mothers and daughters, union workers, mid-wives, and the local Sikh community handing out cups of chaah on a damp wintery morning. This was what we love about the NHS. That no matter who you are, where you’re from, how much you earn, or how ill you have become – you have the right to get help, and you are given the chance to get better. As the film puts it, “the NHS is the most civilised thing our society has”.
And that’s when I realised: It’s all very well having the Big Society NHS’s slick satire with Lansley offering us endless charactertures of himself (watch closely at around 15mins in and our Lansley tosser banner makes an appearance), but real NHS campaigns are born out of real people – real lives, real illnesses, real families and real heartache,
As Larry put it as he ended the meeting, the politicians aren’t the point. Politicians come last in all discussions about the NHS. It’s the situation we face that keeps us going.
Sure, private wealth, unearthed emails, under-the-table deal making and slimy politicians make a good headline. But if you got caught up in the NHS campaigning through the media and are feeling a bit of corruption fatigue, take 40 minutes to watch this video and remind yourself what the NHS does for us all.
Are we too romantic about our health system?
No. Afterall, it’s the most civilised thing our society has