Britain once traded an expensive empire for a National Health Service… Today–? – News Block

When I was growing up in England in the 1950s and 1960s, we were all very proud of the NHS. It really did go a long way to defining ‘Britishness’ at a time when the Empire that had done that for generations before was being unceremoniously stripped away. At least our generation could be quietly proud that, thanks to Britain’s post-WWII Labor government, we had a healthcare system that was the envy of the world!

The NHS was very early dependent on large numbers of skilled and unskilled workers recruited from some of the far reaches of the empire. And it really delivered! There was a weekly mother and baby clinic at the clubhouse in the public park right across from our house. There were regular checkups and shots and for many years there were no out of pocket expenses at all. The NHS was funded with central government funds, essentially diverting funds for this basic human need from those saved by not having to run a vast and well-armed empire. (My late friend and mentor Mike McCGwire once estimated that empires, which until the late 19th century were hugely profitable for the European states that ran them, turned into a net loss of revenue around 1919. The Jallianwallah Bagh massacre, etc. …)

In the 1980s my US born spouse and I were on tour in Scotland and he got a little sick. We went into a local general practitioner’s office and after a short wait he obtained a prescription for antibiotics. The whole thing cost him just £2.

And today?

My niece is a senior Accident and Emergency doctor at a hospital in the South West of England. I learned over the weekend that her A&E department is so completely overwhelmed and clogged that she has had to treat patients while they are in the ambulances lined up outside the front doors.

The accounts of what is happening in the NHS today, after the last 15 years of great Conservative misrule, are truly shocking. Take, for example, this account by NHS consultant doctor Peter Neville, which I compiled from his Twitter account. Here are some quick excerpts:

You can find many other similar accounts on social media and other media coming from the UK…

Meanwhile, what has this government been spending money on? You guessed it! Military expenses. In what looks like a desperate attempt to become the “global Britain” that Boris Johnson promised would emerge after the country’s exit from the EU, military spending is skyrocketing.

Part of this relates to London’s staunch support for the war in the Ukraine: £7.4bn has already been pledged there and no doubt more to come. Some are likely to be related to London’s support for the “AUKUS” military alliance in the Pacific. And a staggering £58.8 billion has been budgeted over the next ten years for acquisitions of the UK’s nuclear arsenal. (Because????)

The architects of the once pioneering NHS must be turning in their graves. (Where they will be joined, in the weeks and months to come, by tens of thousands of Brits of all ages who are now unable to access decent basic medical services. Dear living God.)

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