For most of us the answer is no. Average incomes have fallen by 5.5% since 2010 – only three countries in Europe have fallen by more than this. Over 900,000 people have lost their jobs since 2008. Many jobs do not pay enough for people to live on. Wages have fallen or have been frozen while the price of essentials – rents, energy, transport etc have continued to rise. Young couples can no longer afford to buy a house and rents are becoming equally unaffordable. Food Banks are appearing to help deal with the worst effects of poverty. Food banks in Britain in the 21st century – we should be ashamed.
Yet I read today that the 1000 richest people on the Sunday Times Rich List have seen their wealth increase by £190 billion. Does this not strike you as strange?
This is my own personal story.
I have a lifelong, genetic condition that, left untreated, would have been very serious. Throughout my whole life the NHS has been there and helped at so many steps along the way.
Detection: every baby born in the UK has a heel prick test, thanks to the NHS. This test looks for a range of conditions, mine being one of them. Without this test, I never would have known I had PKU.
Prevention: untreated PKUs’ brains never really develop beyond baby hood, although their bodies become fully adult. I – and my sister – would be burdens on our parents and the state, with round the clock care. At absolute best, we would live in sheltered housing, never able to truly support ourselves, with severe learning difficulties.
Treatment: the treatment is a restricted diet and prescription dietary supplements (on the NHS). I hate to think how expensive this medication is. My parents could never have afforded it, and neither can many other PKU parents, I imagine.
Life: as it is, I have a degree from a good university and a job, paying my NI contributions and tax. I have appointments with consultants once or twice a year for check ups. I think you’ll agree that this outcome is better for everyone – including the state.
A little story from a member to get us rolling; a reminder of why the NHS was created.
This member’s father was born long before the NHS. At the age of twelve, he was working in a mill, a working class boy. His appendix burst. His family couldn’t afford a doctor to treat what is now a fairly common problem – as a result, the member’s father nearly died.
He went on to live, thankfully – but people like him are why the NHS is necessary. Imagine someone working a minimum wage job today. Would they be able to afford an operation to remove an appendix? A quick Google search has given me several answers to what it currently costs in America: between $15,000 and $40,000. I don’t think people on the minimum wage have upwards of £10,000 to spend on an appendix, do you?
Recently, Beverley has become another place in the country feeling the pain of Tory cuts to our NHS. There has been so much negativity in the national press recently, not to mention the CQC report in the last post, that the blog will have a new feature; we will publish our positive stories from the NHS to remind us all what it is that needs saving, and what we might lose if the privatisation by stealth goes ahead.
Send us your stories, big or small. Minor injuries, chronic conditions, anything. Tweet us, or Facebook us, or email us at facility dot hazelnut at gmail dot com, all in the strictest confidence. I will post your story anonymously by default, please let me know if you would be happy to share your name.