The Price of Complacency
by Coast Watcher
The British National Health Service (NHS) is rightly regarded as one of the jewels in the crown of public life. British people cherish their NHS service and will go to great lengths to avoid using it "unnecessarily." People have been known to take taxis to hospital when they are perfectly justified in using an ambulance, because they don’t want to "tie up an ambulance when somebody else could use it."
Founded in 1948, the NHS is administered by the government but is owned by the British people. It has provided healthcare for millions—yet its fate now hangs in the balance. The very government which is supposed to look after it on behalf of the nation is busily selling it off by stealth.
Yes. Much like the Republican Party of the United States, the Conservative (Tory) Party of Great Britain has never encountered a public asset it doesn’t want to sell off for private profit.
As someone with experience of healthcare on both sides of the Atlantic I can safely say the NHS is by far and away the better of the two. The first question asked in a British NHS hospital or doctor’s surgery (office) is "Where does it hurt?" and not "How are you paying for this?" There are waiting lists for procedures, but the patients will be treated, unlike the US, where they may be treated—if their insurance company gives the go-ahead.
In Britain ambulance journeys are free. Consultations are free. Decisions as to which treatment should be administered are entirely up to the medical professionals—not a death committee of insurance salespeople. Patients are not charged—let alone astronomical prices—for a single aspirin and boxes of Kleenex. Nobody in the UK goes bankrupt from medical treatment, unlike the US where 60% of all bankruptcies are due to unforeseen healthcare costs.
My elderly parents recently required the NHS to step up for them when my mother became ill with Alzheimer’s Disease. Carers were provided for her three times a day, every day, allowing my father to take a break. A special hospital bed was provided for her comfort and to make helping her easier for my father and the carers. Regular doctor’s visits took place throughout the course of my mother’s illness right to the end. And none of it cost my parents a penny.
Yet all this is slowly, subtly changing as the Tory government poison works its way through the British public healthcare system. There is even a small minority who advocate privatization of the NHS, presumably because they’ve been indoctrinated to think this way or stand to benefit from such an arrangement.
A friend of mine is an anesthetist at a university hospital in Britain. I was aware of his growing frustration at the insidious attack on the service so many Britons hold dear, so I wasn’t surprised when he wrote the following letter after witnessing a BBC attempt to whitewash the growing privatization of the NHS. His letter is as follows:
Dear Nikki Fox (BBC reporter),
I have just watched your feature on the above subject and have to tell you that you failed entirely to focus on the real cause of the massive increase in the NHS waiting times.
The NHS has been systematically underfunded for decades which has left it not only totally unable to deal with a pandemic but in a poor position to give patients the treatment they so desperately need.
While I realise that you have to edit such a feature, to have a Conservative MP say to viewers they have the right to choose their treatment but you did not mention that the voting record of Richard Bacon MP would show you that he has consistently voted against funding the NHS adequately, supported not paying its staff a proper and decent wage for what they do and promoted the government in its privatisation of the NHS.
To have this man, who has voted in such a way, to say it is people's choice in how they get their healthcare is galling considering that it is people like him that has forced members of the public to have to spend their pension and savings to get the treatment that they have already paid their National Insurance and should already expect such treatment.
The lack of funds to the NHS is not only due to inadequate funding but the stealth privatisation of the NHS by successive Conservative Governments has led to private companies making profit from patients suffering and ill health, money which could be better spent on treating patients in the first place.
Consistent poor pay rises, usually under that present rate of inflation, has led to not only some nurses needing to go to food banks, (the growth in the number of and use of food banks is another symptom of consistent Conservative Governments), but nurses and health professionals have left the NHS which has left the health service chronically understaffed and struggling even more to match the demands placed upon it.
The termination of the NHS bursary has also seriously affected recruitment in the NHS and the contract forced on junior doctors just increases the numbers leaving the country to practice in other countries.
Further to this the massive student debt incurred by nurses during their university education leaves them saddled with debt for decades and is not an incentive to enter the profession.
I would like to ask you, Nikki, directly why you do not cover any of these subjects in your features?
I have watched the John Pilger documentary The Dirty War on the NHS Why don't you cover the issues in that?
Simon Stevens, the NHS chief executive has a long history working for massive private healthcare companies, as do many other people in the higher echelons of the NHS. Why do you not voice concerns about this?
NHS GP practices have been quietly sold to a private health care company, 37 NHS GP practices have been sold to a private US health company (Centene) yet little is mentioned of this in the BBC news. Could you report on this please?
I find that the BBC news frequently bashes the NHS but never actually explains the real causes of what is happening in the NHS.
I have not touched on:
The Naylor Report and its effects on the NHS, lack of PPE at the start of the pandemic, the investigation before the pandemic which showed the NHS had inadequate PPE to deal with a pandemic, the many examples of cronyism where the Conservative government gave untendered contracts to individuals and companies which have close contacts with the Conservative party, including having made donations to the party, refusing to increase NHS salaries after real terms pay cuts for a decade, the hypocrisy of clapping for the NHS during the pandemic and refusing proper investment and salary increase, the lack of attendance of the Prime Minister at the initial COBRA meeting, (while he "holidayed" at his residence at Checkers), spending massive amounts of money on an unnecessary refurbishment of the Downing Street press room and 10 Downing Street itself when NHS staff are struggling with debt and visiting food banks, the protection of Dominic Cummings when he broke lockdown rules when the population of this country were suffering the loss of loved ones and abiding by the lockdown rules, ignoring any comparisons to death rates in other countries where despite a denser population their death rates have been far lower than ours, and reporting on the consistent lying of the Prime Minister during his time in Parliament.
I look forward to your reply about these points. The BBC is no longer viewed as impartial in its reporting of the actions of the government, and since the new chief executive of the BBC has close links to the Conservative Party, I do not see it improving.
I do not expect you to read this e mail out in future episodes of Look East however I would appreciate an answer as to why you do not report on such subjects and give them the attention they deserve. After all it is your taxes and the healthcare of you and your relatives that we are talking about. We will all need the help of the NHS during our lives, and this Conservative government is gradually taking it away from us while making profit from its demise for themselves, donors and colleagues.
"I am tired of the abysmal reporting of the BBC news concerning the NHS and really have had enough of listening to such misleading half truths and right wing bias. I doubt they will even bother to answer." --Stephen
Sobering, even sickening reading. The NHS, a much-loved institution is under direct threat from the very government that is supposed to administer it on behalf of the public.
Healthcare services the world over are under incredible strain due to the Covid-19 pandemic, yet publicly-owned healthcare services have shown time and again they are far superior to private systems such as that of the United States.
The people of Britain are in imminent danger of losing their precious public asset because of typical Tory greed and insensitivity. After generations of agitating for a National Health Service, the British people got one in 1948. Please, people of Britain, do not let this wonderful service fall to pieces through your complacency. Stand up and demand the Tory government rescind all privatization measures and restore the service to what it should and must be.
BIO: Coast Watcher hasn't forgotten his fellow countrymen in the UK. He can see what the Tories are up to with their privatization schemes, and he knows how Big Pharma and the for-profit Health Insurance Industry works from his time in the US. His advice: Keep your eyes open. If there's some way for a corporation to make a profit at the public's expense, expect shenanigans. Fight complacency.
The verdict is in: Derek Chauvin is guilty on all charges. We hold George Floyd’s family in our hearts and minds as they wade through the inescapable and seemingly insurmountable challenges this trial has presented. Although Chauvin has been convicted of murder, nothing will bring back George Floyd.
For weeks, we watched Chauvin’s defense lie, victim-blame, and rely on anti-Black tropes — doing everything possible to blame George Floyd for his own murder. It took over 40 witnesses and two weeks of testimony for a jury to prove what we all saw with our own eyes.
We also know that one conviction doesn't end violent policing or keep Black people safe. That's why Color Of Change immediately demanded a Dept. of Justice (DOJ) investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department and other police forces that threaten Black lives. Today, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the DOJ is opening a sweeping investigation into policing practices in Minneapolis.1
We're encouraged by this action, but we know that Minneapolis is not alone. The
state-sanctioned murder of Black people by police must end. This is a
national crisis, and we have to keep fighting to dismantle systems of
oppression that threaten Black lives.
That’s why we’re demanding more. It’s time for an investigation into police forces that threaten the lives of Black people across the country. Because the issue of police violence is MUCH deeper than Derek Chauvin or one police department — it’s systemic.
The Justice Department has the power to investigate police departments across the country for civil rights violations and to examine their pattern and practice of inappropriate use of force, particularly targeting Black people. This is an important step forward to win structural change and defend Black lives.
President Biden has already promised to address the “unbearable human costs of systemic racism,” and to rebuild the Department of Justice with a greater emphasis on racial justice and civil rights. Let’s make one thing clear: That vision must include investigations into systemic racism in policing, and court-monitored consent decrees to end anti-Black violence inflicted by local police departments in Minneapolis and across the country.
The fight for accountability starts with dismantling an entire police system that fails to keep Black people safe. We’re not safe to walk down the street, sit at a traffic stop, sleep in our own beds, go for a jog, or even ride a bike without fear that it might lead to a deadly police encounter. Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict will not change these material conditions for Black folks.
Join us as we make sure President Biden keeps his promise to Black voters by using the power of his administration to defend Black lives — in Minneapolis, in Toledo, and across the country.
We shouldn’t have to wait for the next tragedy for policymakers to enact tangible reforms. Since the Chauvin trial began on March 29, police in the U.S. have killed more than 3 people every single day. Police in Columbus, OH murdered a young Black girl named Ma'Khia Bryant just minutes after the Chauvin verdict was announced.2 That’s unacceptable. We can’t afford to sit silently while people in our communities are dying.
We need your help calling on the Biden administration to act NOW by initiating an investigation into racist police departments across the country.
Until Justice Is Real,
Scott, Rashad, Arisha, Erika, Malachi, Megan, Ernie, Ariel, Madison, Ana, McKayla, Trevor, Palika, and the rest of the Color of Change team
- "Justice Department launches investigation into Minneapolis policing practices." NBC News. https://act.colorofchange.org/
- "Throughout Trial Over George Floyd’s Death, Killings by Police Mount." NY Times. https://act.colorofchange.org/
From Public Citizen:
I think it’s important to remember the initial statement by Minneapolis
police after one of them killed George Floyd on May 25, 2020.
For starters, the statement is titled, absurdly, “Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction.”
Then there’s this line:
“Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress.”
The gruesome death of George Floyd — as a police officer murdered him in broad daylight over a span of more than nine minutes — is reduced to “and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress.”
If not for local residents who bravely stopped and took the cellphone video now seen by the entire world, that official police statement may well have been the final word on the murder of George Floyd by former, and now convicted, police officer Derek Chauvin.
Policing in America is broken — from rampant racial profiling to hyper-militarization to the fact that law enforcement has already killed 319 people this year. (We’re only 111 days into 2021, so that’s almost three police killings a day.)
It is long past time for comprehensive, structural changes to the way policing is conceived and carried out in America. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would take significant steps to combat misconduct, excessive force, and racial bias in law enforcement. Pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Now.
Add your name.
Thanks for taking action.
- Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen