The NHS is one of the most politically contentious issues in the U.K.
Every election politicians promise to do all manner of things to the NHS, to please the electorate and get those votes.
The NHS is underfunded, its workers are underpaid, it faces increasing demands from an ageing population and foreigners who just keep having more babies (that was sarcasm by the way!)
There are currently long waiting lists for specialist treatments, and long waiting times at A&E (Accident & Emergency or the E.R for our American friends) There are plenty of patients but it seems that the bed spaces for them are few.
It has been argued all over that our Tory government is secretly trying to privatise the NHS under the façade of making it more efficient! I believe this to be true; so here is my plea to the Tories and their private company friends: Please don’t privatise the NHS, it saves lives that otherwise may be lost or crippled by debt if we had a USA style insurance system imposed on us.
I have had to use NHS maternity services twice; my pregnancies have been straightforward, I’ve always been in good health; but when I went into labour the second-time round, things didn’t go as planned. My baby inexplicably became distressed and opened her bowels tainting the amniotic fluid. She then inhaled this tainted fluid into her lungs which clogged them. Her heart rate dramatically decreased- it took an ultrasound scan to determine that her heart was still beating. I was rushed into theatre for an emergency c section. My baby needed to be placed into an incubator immediately. I couldn’t hold her. Her father couldn’t hold her.
Following her birth my baby spent:
- 9 days in intensive care
- 8 days in high dependency unit
- 8 days in special care unit
Here is why private health insurance and a large private sector in healthcare is so bad:
According to Vox, the private sector in America makes health care expensive. The price of healthcare for people receiving state funded healthcare is lower than those funding their health care via insurance companies. This is because the government (public health sector) and private companies negotiate with doctors and hospitals on behalf of the ordinary citizen to lower prices of health treatment. So people are bound to be charged different prices for the same procedure depending on who is doing the negotiating for them (absurd right?)
And again Vox (yes I kinda like their videos) conducted research on the cost of giving birth. A labour without any complications and a 2 day stay in the hospital cost $16,848 (£12,445) and after insurance did their bit (negotiating to lower the bill and covering 90% of the the bill) the family had to pay $841 (£621)
If we lived in the USA, we would have had to pay for our 25-day hospital stay. We would have had to pay for the room I was provided with to stay close to my sick new-born once I had been discharged from midwifery care. We would have had to pay for the MRI scan, chest and abdominal x-rays, numerous blood tests and medications which included morphine, surfactant to help inflate her lungs, anti-biotics and adrenaline (amongst others)
When my baby was discharged she was sent home requiring oxygen 24 hours a day. This meant 5 large oxygen cylinders had to be installed at home and three portable ones for travel. We also required nasal cannulas, tubing extension to be able to move around house, whilst our baby was attached to the oxygen. We also needed plasters to keep the cannulas in place and weekly follow up appointments from the neo-natal nurses. We would have had to pay for this had we been anywhere else and I imagine my family would be in the process of paying off serious debts for the foreseeable future because of the cost of saving our baby’s life. Some babies don’t make it and families elsewhere are faced with their hospital bills on top of their grief.
I imagine that the solution to the problems facing the NHS are not simple ones, but moving toward privatisation would mean that working class families would be crippled by debt following a complicated labour- or any other medical emergency.
Now I really know how the NHS save lives. To the doctors, nurses, health care workers who were involved in my daughter’s care: Thank you.
To whatever government that will be in charge of health legislation, the NHS has to remain a priority, fund it properly, pay workers accordingly, enable the NHS to continue doing great work; because fundamentally good health and access to treatment should be available to everyone.
N.B post has been edited since being originally published on 17/12/17