Nye Bevin’s “child”, the NHS, might be facing its biggest challenge when the “Health and Social Care Bill” finds its way through parliament. The academic caution is well advised, because, not having read the Bill, at the time of writing this, ego just doesn’t know. Of course, the reader might ask,” then, why write about it?” Well, not being aware of what is actually “on offer” at the moment and, therefore, of how anything in the Bill would actually change things, the impetus for this post came from a ‘Guardian’ feature “100 NHS voices” and for an insight into the NHS and how this Bill might change things it might be actually be better to look there. However, to get the ball rolling, on what will be a lot of cognitive processing, two of the “voices” will be covered in a little depth in this post and in doing that, a link to a sort of tale of two cities will be made. The first narrative refers to Glasgow in 2009.
Having supped too much coffee in the Café Nero, which is embedded into the old St.Enoch’s Square subway station, a pee was desperately needed. Unfortunately, as is often the case, in the ragged at the edges ‘Blightty the toilets weren’t functioning and,’ on heading for the toilet, ego was told, “thair broken pal, yil huv to use the wans in the shopping centur”. …. and off he went ….. now, this might not be par for the course in that particularly grand shopping temple, but, while the toilets were clean enough, and everything was more or less hunky-dory, why was that guy banging his head on the wall above the urinals? That question was answered in part when, later the same day, outside Tennents Bar on Byres Rd, another character, with a similar “stop the planet I want to get off” look to the first, was seen walking around in a right old trance; there are a lot of people taking something, and it isn’t just alcohol, in Glasgow ……. and so to Liverpool!
Liverpool has always had a lot in common with Glasgow; the Irish element, the working class ethos and identity, and now? …….. well, there was this guy at Lime Street Station bumping his head off of, what looked suspiciously like Lime Street Station and, after Glasgow, ego just knew. Moreover, if there were any doubts they were soon dispelled when he moved into his accommodation on London Road, just opposite ‘The Royal Liverpool University Hospital’. For the next ten weeks there they were, patients and visitors, standing outside, a collection of hospital clothing, flimsy Primark or H&M garb, track suits, and Liverpool FC and Everton FC shirts, with what Glaswegians would call, peely-wally faces, puffing on their cigarettes under the no smoking sign, shouting and arguing, while supping their cans of something and somehow the guy on the train to Manchester made sense when he said that he had his hip operation in Southport hospital. A tale of two cities and a tale of two hospitals, perhaps!
Lord Victor Adebowale, 49, is head of Turning Point in London, which helps people with learning disabilities, mental health problems, and alcohol or drug problems, he is first of our two voices. He says; “If I was to withdraw our needle exchanges in some cities on Monday, for instance, I would guarantee you would notice the difference by Wednesday afternoon.” ….. and the images conjured up of Lime Street Station, St.Enochs Square, London Rd and even Glasgow’s, ever so slightly bourgeoisie, Byres Rd, become harrowing. Are they threatening to withdraw the “needles exchange”?
The second of the two voices is Karenina Bury, 41, who works for NHS City and Hackney in London. However, while she is quite right to say that “you don’t want competition between two hospitals – you want to know that any hospital is going to provide you with the best possible care.”, there might be enough evidence to suggest that, competion or not, there are already “better” and “worse” hospitals. Nevertheless, if she is saying that competition will accentuate and compound an already unacceptable situation, she is probably right. Are hospitals going to be in direct competition with one another ….. and here the picture is of …. “that’s a bad cough you have Mr Jones, right we are going to have to amputate your legs.” “Oh but my Doctor is in philosophy, not medicine.”
Now, ego doesn’t know too much about either the workings of the NHS or how the changes will affect it and, while he was really over the moon when, despite not having not lived in the UK for a long, long, long time, he could see a doctor free of charge the last time he was there, the fact is that he doesn’t even live in ‘Blighty’. Nevertheless, he does believe that the National Health Service is a tremendous institution and that it is one thing that the U.K. can be very proud of. Therefore, while he might not read the Bill itself, he will at least read the other 98 “voices” that the ‘Guardian’ has listed. It might be advisable if, at least, the British readers of this post were to do the same.