1st December, 2012

A year to be optimistic

It may surprise people who know me, that I am actually quite left-wing in my beliefs. So it should be no surprise that I oppose the privatisation of healthcare in the UK.

In any argument with friends from America, I have always found this "We have the NHS!" statement to be the argument-ender.

I tried to explain how it's not actually 'free', simply 'free' at the point of access. When a person desperately needs help, we provide it. We provide it because it is for the common good. We have a proactive health-care system. This is important, because countries with an insurance-based system scare people away from the doctors. By the time the person visits the GP, they already have cancer and all that they can do is (surprisingly), take expensive medications until death.

This year, I went to two funerals.

The first was my first son, who died during birth. When the doctor asked us if we wanted to continue resuscitating, we declined. For us, him dying peacefully was better than filled with needles and drugs.

Jacob had been in trouble since week 8 when his twin died in the womb. The doctors have speculated, but nobody really knows, it is possible the demise of the twin caused the placenta to become weak.

The doctors examined the body and could find nothing wrong. While we're grateful to the doctors to carry out the investigations, there really isn't anything they could tell us. We accept "That's life".

The second funeral was held a few months later. My grandmother had been suffering from Alzheimer's. Eventually she took a turn. The doctors were very good and explained: "She probably won't come back from this"

I never spoke to my grandmother since she was put in the home, although I was kept up to date. I didn't want to remember her as the person she had become, rather than the person she used to be.

Unfortunately, we don't seem to care about our elders any more.

Josephine Lewis was lucky enough that she owned a four bedroom semi-detached house in a desirable area in Cardiff. The streets were lined with cherry blossoms, there was an apple tree in the back lawn. Breakfast was in the breakfast room and dinner was served in the dining room. My family wasn't rich, this was just normal.

The cost of looking after my grandmother was covered by her house. My sisters rent their houses. Who will pick up the tab for them, or will they simply be thrown to the kerb the way the government has enjoyed getting rid of awkward disability allowances?

This year we had ultrasound scans by an obstetrician at the foetal medicine unit every two weeks. I've looked into the costs of this procedure, on top of the blood tests, urine tests, placenta tests etc.

If we had not had the NHS, I would be bankrupt. I would have had to sell the house and leave my job to contract indefinitely.

The chilling fact is that we were not an unusual case.

Sadly this is a series of events that is all too common. If there really is a lack of funds, raise taxes. Bring back the 50p tax or whatever it takes. Next time it could happen to you.


The opinions expressed here are my own and not those of my employer.