Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 50 Number 25, July 4, 2020 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE
72nd Anniversary of the NHS:

Taking Forward the Vision of Health Care As a Right

When the NHS Was Founded It Was Inspired by the Possibility of a New Direction for Society.
Let Us Take Up This Vision and Inspiration. It Can Be Done, It Must Be Done!

This weekend people will be marking the 72nd anniversary of the NHS with many events highlighting the the huge contribution made by health and care workers in the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, those campaigns that have been involved in the fight to save hospital and health care services, those involved in trade unions, and staff associations that have been fighting to defend health workers during the crisis are also organising events to continue their fight.

The question that has been brought into sharp relief by the coronavirus pandemic is what is needed for a modern health service which provides health care as of right to all sections of the population at the highest level without discrimination. This right exists because we are human and has nothing to do with our status as a citizen, or any other consideration that government tries to impose such as their criminal policy of making "immigrants" and visitors pay for health care as a path to introduce payment of health care more and more for all.

It should be a sine qua non of any modern society worthy of the name that there is never any question of "under-funding" or "balancing the books" in meeting all these needs for health care. There should be investment in the health service without quibble. One way is to stop the spending on military projects. Another way is for the monopolies to pay for the value crystallised in a healthy workforce. At present the monopolies pay nothing for the value that health and care workers create in bringing their workforces into the world and keeping them healthy throughout their life and in old age. Instead the monopolies consume this as their profits and are provided with a healthy work force paid for by people themselves! The government's talks of "build, build, build" at present to get the economy out of the crisis allegedly caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Yet it is the opposite - the pandemic has actually laid bare and exposed the fault lines in the economy, fault lines which stem from the control of the economy by vested private interests, which go to paying the rich at ever-exorbitant rates, while the public economy is starved of funds and investments.

The reality is that a vibrant and funded health service is the pre-requisite of a healthy economy. The government is recklessly ignoring this fundamental truth, handing over billions of pounds to monopolies and financial consultants, who fail to meet even World Health Organisation standards in providing protective equipment for health and care workers, carrying out testing, and implementing tracking and tracing needed to fight the pandemic. In the course of this, tens of thousands of lives have been lost. The hypocrisy of those in power clapping the NHS and front-line workers is sickening to behold. By their works shall ye know them!

The sentiment of the people is at odds with this, and their hearts are with the NHS and its self-sacrificing workers. This includes care workers and all who care for the physical, mental and social health and well-being of the population. It includes focusing on preventative health care, on eliminating the social inequalities which give rise to health problems, and providing the health service with a vision which comes from health workers, professionals and concerned people being in control of decision-making.

Local campaigns are resisting the uncaring acts of those in authority which by-pass the concerns of the people. All power to these campaigns! They point the way to the future, to a new direction for society. All of them fight shoulder to shoulder in the sense that their cause is to ensure that the people's concerns are listened to and acted on. Their converging point is a health service taken away from the grip of those in authority who espouse the old perspective of paying the rich. The chronic and serious problems exposed by the coronavirus pandemic must be overcome in the new situation.

When the NHS was founded in the aftermath of WWII, the working class and people were inspired by the possibilities of a new direction for society. In marking the anniversary of the NHS, let us take up this vision and inspiration. It can be done, it must be done!


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