A Song For The NHS

It’s time to sing a(nother) song for Our Blessed NHS

In 2014, we were all instructed to spend Christmas Day tweeting and sharing our fawning adulation of the National Health Service and NHS workers on social media, lest the sensitive government-owned healthcare provider feel unappreciated for even a single second.

Last year, a choir of workers from the Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Trust actually stormed the charts and took the coveted Christmas #1 spot with a very pedestrian and unremarkable Ode to the NHS, after the British public were guilted and emotionally blackmailed into virtue-signalling their support for Our Blessed NHS by purchasing the recording.

At that point, this blog started to sound the alarm bells, even more loudly than usual.

But still it was not enough. Still we are apparently failing to show sufficient love for the National Health Service. Still we wretched sinners fail to give due worship and honour to Britain’s secular, socialist religion.

Step forward NHS Million, an online campaign group which exists solely to spread fawning propaganda about the health service and encourage its worship, with a call for all of us to come up with our own individual hymns of praise to the NHS:

How long, one wonders, until a formal NHS anthem is commissioned, and sung every day in state-run hospitals up and down the land? How long until there is some kind of “NHS Loyalty Oath”, different from the Hippocratic Oath, in which NHS workers are forced to pledge to defend the principle of socialised healthcare over and above all else, rather than simply doing what is best for their patients?

Do these people realise how they look and sound to anyone from outside Britain? Simple-minded adult babies singing childish simple songs for a government they take active pride in depending on 24/7. It would be hilarious if it were not quite so gut-wrenchingly pathetic.

I look forward to trying (again) to explain this national NHS mania to my in-laws and American side of the family when we travel to Texas for Christmas this year. I look forward to the looks of blank incomprehension on their faces when I patiently explain to them that no, it is quite normal for otherwise independent-minded, adult-looking British people to suddenly whip out the guitar and croon a sappy love song to a money-hungry government department. I cannot wait to hear what they say when I suggest that they should follow our lead and found a national movement encouraging American citizens to write songs in praise of the IRS or the US Postal Service.

Fortunately, the one thing for which British people can be relied on even more than reflexively loving the NHS is the way in which we tend to make fun of any effort to make us give due deference to authority. And I am pleased to report that NHS Million received far more snide comments in reply than genuine song contributions.

Here are some of the best:

This inspired person managed four suggestions in one tweet:

Then there were the earnest-but-dim contributions:

And the perennially confused:

While others were a year behind the times:

Fix you? Really? Been there, done that.

Oh, and my own contribution:

Unfortunately, some people did take the request seriously and actually produce a song:

“RIP Our NHS” is a punk/ska-sounding number, only the rebellious element has been lobotomised and everything one would expect from the genre – angry contempt for authority etc. – has been replaced by a petulant, foot-stamping tantrum for more government interference in our healthcare. 80s kids for less freedom and bigger government!

Nobody wants an acute healthcare crisis to unfold in Britain. But if that is what it will take for us to finally stop singing childish ditties to the fifth largest employer in the world, a vast bureaucratic organisation of immense power and with huge vested interests in the form of the NHS Industrial Complex, then what are we waiting for? Bring it on – let’s get the pain over and done with.

For what is the alternative? How many more Christmases must we otherwise spend holding hands and singing plaintive worship songs to Big Government while other nations, unencumbered by 1940s socialist dogma, continue to overtake us in the healthcare outcome league tables?

Enough is enough. NHS Million can take their NHS songs and stick them where the sun don’t shine. The service that they are performing, no matter how well intentioned, is worse than useless – papering over the cracks and encouraging people to unthinkingly support the status quo is actively harmful to the long-term health of the nation.

This is a time for serious people and bold new ideas to end the dark reign of the NHS Industrial Complex, the nostalgic socialist dreamers and the fawning, childish sycophants who unwittingly do their bidding.

 

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The Seven Deadly Sins Of Momentum – NHS Edition

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Catastrophisation, Identity Politics, NIMBYism, Militant Trade Unionism, the NHS Industrial Complex, Ideological Echo Chambers and Socialist Fundamentalism – the Seven Deadly Sins of Britain’s NHS-worshipping Taliban

This charming missive from the Camden Momentum NHS Working Group pinged its way into my mailbox this afternoon, and in an idle moment I thought I would point out all of the things that are wrong with it, and which actively undermine the vital cause of healthcare reform and thwart necessary moves to improve healthcare outcomes for ordinary Britons, all for the sake of rigid adherence to failed socialist dogma.

The email reads in part:

Our NHS is in crisis and under attack, we must stand up and fight for it!

Please come to our Reclaiming the NHS public meeting:
– 30th November 7-9pm
– Council Chambers, Camden Town Hall Judd Street, London WC1H 9JE.

The junior doctors strike has alerted us all that our NHS is being stolen from us. It can only be saved by a massive public campaign. Since Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party by a landslide, we have parliamentary backing to stop and reverse privatisation. Come and hear about:

  • 80% of NHS staff are women. Over 30% are immigrant. Hear what they have to say on the impact privatisation has already had on the NHS and emergency services.
  • Find out which local services are threatened by cuts and privatisation (Sustainability & Transformation Plans – STPs).
  • Plan together what we can do to stop this.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Momentum and assorted other NHS-worshippers that I have identified are as follows:

1. Catastrophisation. Perpetually suggesting that the NHS is on the brink of destruction. Leftists have been making these breathless allegations during Tory administrations going back to the 1950s, including some long spells of Conservative rule, and yet miraculously the NHS survives – and with it, our unthinking devotion to government-provided healthcare. The hysterical alarmism card is really starting to get quite tiresome at this point. The NHS is far more likely to bury all of us (after quite possibly hastening us toward an early demise) than we are to bury the NHS.

2. Identity Politics. There is always time for identity politics now. If NHS acolytes can find an ethnic, gender or sexuality angle to support their argument they will inevitably do so, because they know just how fatal an allegation of institutional racism or sexism can be.

3. NIMBYism. A monolithic, socialised government healthcare delivery organisation must ration and allocate resources across the country in the most efficient way possible if it is to stand a chance of functioning correctly. Yet at every opportunity, NHS worshippers protest reorganisations that would close small and failing departments in favour of building regional centres of excellence because despite living in the age of the car and the air ambulance, these people come out in hives if they are not within five minute’s walk an NHS building at all times.

4. Militant Trade Unionism. Leaked emails revealed months ago that the junior doctors’ strike was nothing more than a tawdry, grubby pay dispute, with BMA chiefs and key junior doctor agitators deliberately hoodwinking the public by pretending that it was a high-minded dispute about public safety or indeed the very future of the NHS. Of course, every grubby public sector strike in history has been defended on the grounds that participants are engaged in a selfless stand for public safety, and in 2016 we really should be capable of seeing through these left-wing political antics.

5. Supporting the NHS Industrial Complex. The UK’s National Health Service is the fifth biggest employer on the face of the Earth, employing nearly as many people as global fast food giant McDonald’s and many more than the Indian railways, all to service a country of just 65 million people. When nearly the entirety of Britain’s healthcare sector is nationalised, there is inevitably a vast ecosystem of suppliers, support businesses, lobbyists and vested interests with every incentive to maintain the status quo so that they can continue milking the system. But such is the reflexive, unquestioning love that many have for the NHS that we never really stop to consider whether it is run for our benefit, or for the benefit of those vested interests. Just as the military-industrial complex has been a very real phenomenon in the United States of America following World War 2, so the NHS-industrial complex is a real phenomenon in modern Britain. We should be less credulous and recognise this fact.

6. Ideological echo chamber. As the UK general election, Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as US president have shown, by living in an hermetically sealed ideological bubble in which people talk only to others of the same political viewpoint, consume only news sources which validate their existing biases and mistake social media “clicktivism” with real activism and change, leftists end up talking to themselves while ignoring the wider country. The NHS cultists can continue to share social media memes and infographics all they like, but they are only preserving the failing status quo and making it impossible for reformers to be heard.

7. Socialist fundamentalism. Nothing reveals the NHS cultists’ devotion to socialist ideology over and above actual healthcare outcomes more than their blind, hysterical insistence that all privatisation must be eliminated and every NHS service brought back in-house as a matter of ideological purity rather than clinical value. These people will only be happy when the government (through our tax pounds) funds and delivers every single aspect of healthcare, from support functions like laundry, catering, cleaning, construction, marketing, staffing and management through to the front-line clinical work. Never mind the fact that no other advanced country in the world successfully operates a healthcare system as completely nationalised as the one which they favour. Forget learning from best practice around the world, or (heaven forbid) trying something new and bold. No, NHS cultists insist that Britain is to be a socialist beacon to the world, and if you or I have to die because of substandard care in order to glorify their vision of socialised healthcare then so be it.

What do you think? Would you change any of these Seven Deadly Sins, or add any others?

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

 

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NHS Heresy, Part 3

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The latest depressing news about Britain’s slide down the healthcare outcome rankings will only lead to more uncritical NHS-worship instead of the frank, rational and dispassionate conversation we need to have about end-of-life care for the ageing, failing National Health Service

The Times’ Tim Shipman reports some awkward facts in Sunday’s “Red Box” briefing:

As many as 46,000 people die each year because NHS treatments for a range of conditions, including cancer, trail behind the best in the world, a new report has found.

The UK ranks near the bottom of a list of developed nations in terms of survival rates for common cancers such as breast, lung, prostate and bowel cancers.

More than 9,000 people who die each year in the UK from lung cancer would survive if they lived in Japan, which has the best survival rate for the disease among the 32 countries studied. The UK ranks 30th.

BUT THE NHS IS THE ENVY OF THE WORLD!

The NHS was perfect until the Evil Tor-ees got their grubby hands on it six years ago!

We just need a new NHS Tax to fund our beloved healthcare system – I for one would be happy to pay five pence more on the pound to show my support for Our NHS!

Cue a million and one leftist responses to these awkward, sobering facts and statistics. Everything other than a measure of introspection, or questioning whether a centralised, statist bureaucracy designed in 1948 – and which perversely ranks as the fifth largest employer on the face of the Earth, bigger than the Indian railways and only just smaller than McDonald’s – is really the best way to deliver healthcare to Britons in 2016.

That healthcare stat about lung cancer survival rates in Japan looks rather good, doesn’t it? And how exactly is it achieved? Well:

The health care [system] in Japan provides healthcare services, including screening examinations, prenatal care and infectious disease control, with the patient accepting responsibility for 30% of these costs while the government pays the remaining 70%. Payment for personal medical services is offered by a universal health care insurance system that provides relative equality of access, with fees set by a government committee.

All residents of Japan are required by the law to have health insurance coverage. People without insurance from employers can participate in a national health insurance programme, administered by local governments. Patients are free to select physicians or facilities of their choice and cannot be denied coverage. Hospitals, by law, must be run as non-profit and be managed by physicians. For-profit corporations are not allowed to own or operate hospitals. Clinics must be owned and operated by physicians.

So in Japan there is some sense that healthcare is an individual’s responsibility – the requirement to cover 30% of costs ensures that this is the case, acting as an incentive to live healthier lifestyles and take personal responsibility for decisions. But universally mandated insurance and a decree that patients cannot be denied coverage ensures that nobody slips through the net.

In other words, this is hardly a libertarian dystopia. Prices are capped by a government committee, while state law dictates that individuals purchase insurance. Hospitals are non-profit, meaning the big, “evil” American corporations don’t get a look-in.

And yet even to suggest that the UK looks to Japan for inspiration in reforming healthcare would be to mark oneself out as a heretic, as a blasphemer against St. Aneurin Bevan of Tredegar and the Perfect System he bequeathed to us. Ordinary citizens would be shunned by their friends while any politician would quickly find themselves labelled an “extremist” and excommunicated from public life.

How much further down the international rankings must we slip before Britain’s army of NHS worshippers (and the NHS Industrial Complex, whose bidding they unwittingly do) finally stop singing hymns of praise to a failing government bureaucracy and demand that we finally do something bold, something different?

On second thoughts, don’t answer that question.

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NHS Heresy, Part 2

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It takes real courage to speak out against the Cult of the NHS, particularly for people on the political left who are expected to be the biggest cheerleaders of all

From a brave commenter at Left Foot Forward, reacting to the same piece of sentimentalist NHS idolatry which prompted my article here:

I am disabled and faced horrendous treatment on the NHS when I unfortunately required help, I never once criticised staff individually but still every time I tried to talk about what I faced I was shouted at, told I hate the NHS, that I want to copy the US… I’ve seen the same thing happen to NHS staff whistleblowers. At this point it seems protecting “our NHS” from any and all criticism (that is not crouched in “don’t get me wrong, I love the NHS”) is more important than the wellbeing of both the patients and the staff and the functioning of the healthcare system.

I have since moved elsewhere in Europe to my husband’s country where the PUBLIC healthcare system (health insurance and private doctors are not a common thing here either), though it has flaws as everywhere does, functions as a healthcare system much better. If you want to change the pressures the NHS is under then it needs to become socially acceptable to talk about the NHS without referring to it as the “envy of the world” constantly or being accused of hating it and the staff working for it.

Heretic! Heretic!

BURN THE WITCH!

This statement takes courage, perhaps particularly from somebody who is clearly on the political left herself, and so is expected to be a particularly enthusiastic priestess of the Cult of the NHS. I admire her bravery – I fear that she (and others like her) will continue to be demonised for daring to acknowledge glaring reality.

 

Postscript: An alternative vision for healthcare in Britain, penned back in 2008 by Professor Karol Sikora, former chief of the World Health Organisation Cancer Program.

 

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Mark Serwotka’s Emotional Blackmail On Behalf Of The NHS Industrial Complex

In a piece for Left Foot Forward, Mark Serwotka plays the “I’m on the waiting list for a heart transplant” card to heap even more uncritical praise on the NHS:

This is something I honestly think Jeremy Hunt and the Tories will never fully grasp, or don’t want to. They don’t have a genuine sense of how the whole NHS is run. Or our other public services, for that matter. They see them as bureaucracies, first to be vilified, the better then to be cut down to size.

I don’t know how long I’m going to be in here before my transplant, but my stay so far really has hardened my resolve to ensuring we defend our NHS with everything we’ve got.

That means defending the services from budget cuts and privatisation. And it means defending the health workers who have been treated appallingly, with their pay and pensions slashed, their contracts ripped up and even hints now that foreign doctors won’t be welcome in the UK in the future.

This last point makes me particularly angry because from day one, when I first started having problems in 2010, I’ve been looked after by fantastic and dedicated doctors and other professionals from all over the world.

We really can’t say it often or loud enough — our NHS is very special. The greatest achievement of a time of political optimism, when national pride meant public investment. Our health service is the envy of the world, and we can’t afford to let the Tories grind it down.

Really, we can’t say it often or loud enough? It certainly seems as though uncritically praising the NHS from dawn to dusk is all that some of us ever do, whether we are childishly painting the NHS logo on our faces, propelling a mediocre song to #1 in the Christmas charts or flaunting our virtuous NHS-love on social media.

The envy of the world? Tell that to the thousands of people whose cancer wasn’t spotted until it was too late or who could not benefit from the latest treatments, the people who died of hospital superbugs or the families of those left to starve in dysfunctional hospital wards run by psychopaths.

Mark Serwotka’s hymn of praise to the NHS mirrors every other piece of leftist propaganda designed to aid the NHS Industrial Complex. The template goes something like this:

  1. Talk about current or past grave illness to elicit sympathy
  2. Praise the “amazing care” received, as though heart transplants or chemotherapy are uniquely British
  3. Wax lyrical about how the unending bureaucracy of state healthcare and the fact that the NHS is the world’s fifth largest employer is actually a good thing, somehow
  4. Historical amnesia, where every other significant or inspiring British contribution to the world is forgotten or diminished while government-run hospitals are put on a pedestal and worshipped
  5. Attack the Evil Tor-ees for being insufficiently devout in their observance of Britain’s new national religion

One certainly wishes Mark Serwotka the very best, that a suitable new donor is available soon and that his upcoming transplant is a success. But as a people, we really need to stop being so gullible and open to emotional manipulation that we allow ourselves to be swept along by these “but the NHS set my broken arm / cured my case of Ebola / saved my premature baby” testimonials.

No, the NHS did not save your life. Doctors, nurses and modern technology saved your life. And guess what? In other countries, the systems that they wrap around those doctors, nurses and technologies often deliver better healthcare outcomes for their people than Our Blessed NHS (genuflect) is able to produce.

But what really damns Mark Serwotka and his NHS-loving amen chorus is the fact that they will not even allow the British people to look at the benefits of other healthcare delivery models. The NHS Industrial Complex has the British Left (and whole swathes of the Right) so wrapped around its fat little finger that to even question whether the NHS model should remain the One True Faith of these islands is to invite potential excommunication from political life.

And all it takes to perpetuate this nauseating Divine Office of praise for the National Health Service is for occasional feel-good stories like this one to make us wipe away a tear, lean back with a smile and know that we benefit from the Best Healthcare System In The World. So good, in fact, that it is replicated by jealous rivals in precisely zero other countries.

A reading from the book of St. Mark Serwotka.

Thanks be to Bevan.

 

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