First steps

My first ‘post’ in this brand new blog! I have rambled on about why the blog exists on the ‘About’ page so I won’t repeat it here. One thing pushed me here today and, sadly, I think many will recognise it. My father has a cataract in one eye. He is quite elderly, has several health issues and reading and doing the crossword are a very big part of his life. He has been told that he will have to wait until he can’t see before it can be treated. That could be another year or more.

The media have talked about other people in similar situations, many with more pressing need than my father. Age-related macular degeneration is another condition that the health service seem happy to leave untreated until people are effectively blind. Hip and knee replacements are no longer offered to many. People needing expensive drugs are being told they can’t have them, even if the results could mean them keeping jobs or living active lives.

We all know that times are hard and that the British health service isn’t immune to that. But we seem to have suddenly arrived at a point where basic and humane care seems to have become dispensable in the rush to keep the books balanced and give private companies a profit. I’m afraid this is where I am going to mention politics because I believe our government is directly responsible for many of the uncaring things that are happening ever more frequently. A once great health service seems to have been sold out from under our noses by a party that didn’t even have health service reform in its manifesto. And yet here we are – sudenly in a world where Virgin and others are being handed our hospitals.

I know I’m overly optimistic and tend to think the best of people – my father is convinced I live my life in rose-tinted spectacles – but I’m sure we can do better for the sick and vulnerable people in our society than hand them over to the profit-seeking likes of Mr Branson. If things were really that bad – and I haven’t met a single healthcare employee who thinks they were – shouldn’t we, the voters and consumers, have been given a say in the best way forward?

Personally, as someone earning a fair wage, I would have happily given an extra penny or two in the pound to help fund an equitable and people-owned health service. But no one asked me. Even my Tory friends assure me they would not have voted Tory if they had known what was going to happen to our world-renowned National Health Service. As for the Liberal Democrats – they have plenty to be ashamed of, but this surely must be the crowning glory on the betrayal of their supporters. As a lifelong liberal supporter, I’m ashamed for them and of them!

The changes – in our healthcare provision and our benefits system – are only just beginning to impact on the people reliant on them. But I already know that I don’t like what I see. I have tried to persuade my father to pay privately to get his eye sorted out – after all he may not live long enough to see it happen on the NHS. But he doesn’t feel he should pay to leap the queue when others, who may be more in need than he, would have to wait longer. I am humbled by his thoughtfulness! I just wish our government would act with such thoughtfulness, rather than ploughing their ideolgocal furrows regardless of all but the wealthy.