June Update

Hello my dear, patient readers.

My ankle. Stylish, no?
My ankle. Stylish, no?

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted for quite some time.

I apologise for this. Sometimes life just gets in the way – and sometimes, like this time, it’s a matter of having to battle the serious ill health that occasionally pops up and completely floors me, this time resulting in a change of medication which is currently knocking me out in a most interesting fashion.

And just to make matters worse, I now also have a broken ankle!

My ankle is still very painful and I’m on some rather spacey painkillers too (which is only adding to the fun…), but I have been looked after wonderfully by all the medical staff who have treated me so far (yay for the NHS!), and by my fabulous family and friends, both online and off.

It is frustrating to be pretty immobile and unable to do many of the things I take for granted (including writing), and I’ve turned into a bit of a Dalek when it comes to the stairs – but at least I have a cast-iron excuse to lie on the sofa and binge watch Euro 2016 when it starts later this week!

As a result of all this medical mayhem (ahem) I may not be able to post much over the next few months, but I have put together a selection of bits and pieces that I hope you will enjoy – including some more choice vintage selections from the BFI film archive to be going on with.

I was also thinking that it might be nice to have a few guest posts from a few cool and groovy people while I’m laid up. If you are interested in contributing something, please get in touch (you can leave a comment here or tweet me).


Quote of the Day: The lady who told Andrew Lansley where to stick it

[Lansley is] gutless. He knows he is wrong, but he can’t face the people. If they just had the courage to do a U-turn, just say, ‘I’ve made a bloody big mistake here, we’ve bitten off more than we can chew.’ It is clear to everyone that is what they need to do, but they are not brave enough.

I am sticking up for people like my niece’s husband who has had a brain tumour. He has had fantastic treatment on the NHS which would have cost millions of pounds. His treatment has enabled him to keep on fighting so I will keep fighting for people like him.

What they are doing is immoral. The NHS should be there from cradle to grave and I’m not in my grave yet. The public have not had a say on any of this. It’s our money that pays for the NHS, we should have a ­referendum on it.

The other thing that gets me cross is this talk about choice. I don’t want choice, I want all hospitals to be as good as each other not to have to travel around the place. It’s about trust and I don’t trust them. The Tories don’t like the NHS and they never have…

He told me he wasn’t privatising the NHS. How dare he lie to me like that? It’s in black and white for anyone to see. It started years ago in 1979 under Thatcher. It really upsets me to be honest.

He wanted to go by and turned his back on me. It annoyed me, I was upset, how dare he turn his back on me, he tried to brush me off, like his government is brushing us all off.

I feel really sad for the people who will in the future have the ­misfortune to fall ill or be born with a disability.

June Hautot, you rock. This is the elderly lady who confronted Health Secretary Andrew Lansley over NHS reforms at Downing Street yesterday, rather excellently putting him in a publicly embarrassing position. Her words, quoted above, come from an interview she gave today to The Mirror, in which this feisty lady explains in no uncertain terms exactly why she had to take a stand against the government’s proposed healthcare policy.

You can read the full interview with Mrs Hautot here.

Famous Last Words

I guess we’d all like to think our dying words will be something as witty and pithy as those attributed to Oscar Wilde, who, on his Parisian death bed, is supposed to have commented:

Either that wallpaper goes, or I do

However, some people don’t seem to get this final moment of mordant wit quite right. A classic example of this is the final words allegedly spoken by Pancho Villa (the Mexican revolutionary); seemingly on the very subject of final words – or the lack of them in his case:

Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something.

But some people manage to get it gleefully, wonderfully right – which is why I had to smile this morning while reading the many obituaries published in tribute to the nurse, newspaper agony aunt and NHS campaigner Claire Rayner, who has died at the age of 79. The BBC report on her death says:

She told her relatives she wanted her last words to be: “Tell David Cameron that if he screws up my beloved NHS I’ll come back and bloody haunt him.”

And I should bloody think so too! Considering that this country is still paying the price for the last Tory government’s ‘reforms’ of the NHS (let alone what the last Labour government did to it…), further Conservative fiddling with the health service should strike fear into the hearts of patients and NHS staff alike – and the ghost of Claire Rayner should strike fear into Tory hearts everywhere!

I’d love to think she’ll be as good as her word – so, if reports start filtering out of Downing Street of poltergeist activity and sightings of the ghostly figure of a grey-haired, kind-hearted, slightly bossy nurse-type lady around David Cameron’s office, I think we can safely conclude not only that there is life after death but also (and more importantly!) that Claire Rayner has returned and she’s not very happy with this government….

Say WHAT!? – Reproductive rights and the healthcare debate.

More insanity from the front line of the US health care debate….

Last week, the Senate subcommittee on finance met to discuss the controversial issue of whether the federal government should be allowed to define what sort of health care provision should be included in private insurance coverage – a subject which was always going to bring the Republican dingbats out of the woodwork.

And so it did…

Meet Jon Kyl, the Republican Senator for Arizona, a man who clearly hasn’t quite got his head around his own responsibilities as a father and grandfather. How else can you explain this comment?

“I don’t need maternity care, and so requiring that to be in my insurance policy is something that I don’t need and will make the policy more expensive.”

Well, Senator Kyl, you may not personally need maternity care, but, as Debbie Stabenow, the Democrat Senator for Michigan pointedly interjected:

“I think your mother probably did.”

Yes, Senator Kyl, and your wife, and your daughter, and your daughter-in-law – and probably also eventually your two grand-daughters too. Of course, Senator Kyl doesn’t have to worry his pretty little head about these things himself; as a US Senator, he gets free health care. That’s right, free health care. The stuff that the vast majority of Americans will never, ever get if he and his Republican cronies have their way.

Continue reading “Say WHAT!? – Reproductive rights and the healthcare debate.”

In Defence Of The NHS

This was originally posted last month on my old blog, but due to the continued lies and bullshit being spread about socialised healthcare in America, I felt it was about time I posted it again. Whatever you think about Obama and his policies is immaterial on this one, because no-one should die because they cannot afford healthcare and no-one should go broke because they get sick. It’s as simple as that.

Read, learn and inwardly digest, Americans. Your bitter and twisted Republican politicians are lying to you. This is the truth about socialised healthcare from one who has worked in and received much medical treatment from Britain’s ‘evil’ NHS. Many of you know full well that 99.95% of what the conservative news networks and Republican politicians have been spouting on the subject is simply lies and spin. But such lies and spin should not be left unremarked, especially when they reveal such appalling levels of ignorance and prejudice.

So, Republicans – are you sitting comfortably? Well, you won’t be by the time I’m through here. Time for a history lesson….

Despite its many imperfections, the NHS has managed to survive for more than sixty years without exploding or turning into an ‘evil and Orwellian’ communist/Nazi system (honestly Republicans, what do they teach you in Politics 101?). Prior to World War Two, healthcare provision was actually very different in Britain, and was seen by many as symptomatic of a long-standing and much wider social inequality. In fact, I suspect the current GOP crew would probably approve of the pre-NHS system in Britain, as it was overly complex, provided under a number of different systems and skewed towards those with money – which meant that a very large percentage of the population either could not afford or were not entitled to decent healthcare. Hmmm. Oddly familiar, all that.

Then along came an arrogant and self-obsessed upper class senior civil servant called William Beveridge; perhaps the last person you would expect to advocate universal social security and universal health care. But that is exactly what he did, in the Beveridge Report on Social Insurance and Allied Services of 1942. The Report‘s suggestions extended welfare reforms (like old age pensions) introduced by pre-World War One Liberal governments to their logical conclusions. It also reflected the experience of the de facto nationalization of Britain’s hospitals during the horror of the war on the home front in the early 1940s – a necessary process in order to provide a decent level of healthcare for the huge and increasing numbers of wounded civilians and servicemen and women of all social classes needing treatment. In the words of the historian Arthur Marwick: “only by making the state services open to all could it be ensured that the highest standards would be available to all; only by having a universal service could the stigma be removed from those who had to make use of state services” (1990, p.47).

Despite a great deal of political debate, the fact that post-war Britain was close to bankruptcy (mainly due to the sudden US withdrawal of the Lend-Lease programme), and a spectacular sulk over money and prestige from the British Medical Association which nearly scuppered the whole thing at its inception, the NHS finally came into being on 5th July 1948. Right from the start it wasn’t perfect (and it still isn’t), but it immeasurably improved the lives of millions of British people previously unable to access the treatments they needed. Yes, Republicans, it was indeed eventually introduced by a Labour government (oooh, Socialism, run for the hills!!), and yes, the NHS has always involved a great deal of government expenditure funded by tax payers’ money – but have you looked in the mirror lately?

No, really, you should. You’d be surprised. Didn’t you know that the American government already pays more for healthcare per head per annum than even that evil-NHS-socialised-healthcare-Britain does? A lot more. In fact, in 2007, US government spending on healthcare accounted for 16.2% of GDP – not far off twice the average spend of other OECD countries. Figures from 2004 are even more specific, showing that for every American, the government spends $6,102 on healthcare every year (this figure has probably risen since then), compared to a measly $2,546 per capita spent by the British government.

How do you account for that, Republicans? Oh, I know, it doesn’t fit in with your crazy, delusional worldview, so you’ll probably just ignore it. Or start lying about it, just like you’ve already been telling lies about the NHS. Your ignorance will show through – in fact, it already has. Who, I wonder, failed to fact-check that Investors Business Daily article this week which brazenly announced that: “people such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the UK, where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless”? A quick trawl through Google or Wikipedia would turn up the astounding fact that Stephen Hawking is actually British (shock, horror!) and has gone on record as saying that he, like so many, “wouldn’t be here today if it were not for the NHS”. Just because some random renegade Tory MEP has nailed his colours to the mast in opposition to the NHS, it doesn’t mean it is a failed system which lacks the support of the British people, as you lot seem to assume. Honestly, Republicans, go get yourselves some IT classes and read a few British newspapers, blogs and websites – you’ll soon discover that the NHS is not perfect, but it is still much loved and appreciated by many (even to the extent of crashing Twitter on Wednesday due to the sheer volume of Brits defending the NHS), including a huge number of people who would, like at least fifty million Americans, be unable to afford healthcare if they also lived in the US.

I am exactly this type of low-income individual who would have fallen through the cracks in the American health care system. Recently, I was found to have a large pre-cancerous abnormality on my cervix after a smear test. Within a couple of weeks of the smear test results coming back, I had been referred for further tests at a local hospital – and within less than two months the tests had been taken, I had received treatment, and been given the all-clear. I doubt I’d have been able to afford any of that under the American system, and I’d now be well on my way to… well, dying, actually. Then there’s my dad, in his late sixties and retired, who had serious heart valve surgery two years ago – according to the Republican lies, the NHS doesn’t perform surgery like that on anyone over the age of 59. Then there’s a friend of mine who gave birth to her twin daughters prematurely, with all the risks to mother and babies that entails – her adorable little girls are now four years old and fit and healthy, all thanks to the NHS. Or there’s even another friend of mine who had a heart and lung transplant as a child and is now, in her thirties, one of the longest-surviving transplant patients in the country – again, all because of the NHS and the groundbreaking healthcare they have provided over the last two decades. All of this life-saving surgery and treatment has been carried out according to a need, not a price or a profit – and that is how healthcare should be. And if that requires government intervention and funding, then so be it. What’s so scary about that, Republicans?

I will keep on saying this until I am blue in the face: the NHS saved my life. And I am only one of thousands upon thousands of British people who can say the same thing. Lying about the British health service for Republican political ends won’t change this simple truth; in fact nothing will change in American healthcare until those in power, the disproportionately influential, reactionary conservative forces in American society and the hugely wealthy pharmaceutical industry start to realise that healthcare is about people, not profits. And fifty million uninsured and uncovered Americans deserve a decent and universal ‘socialised’ health system. They deserve better than Republican lies.

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