According to the Guardian, it’s possible that at least 26,000 patients may have been affected by today’s “go-slow” industrial action by doctors. The BMA will meet to decide whether or not to do another day.
It’s a difficult situation—most doctors make decent salaries compared to many but at the same time the Government’s mucking about with their pensions just doesn’t seem right. However, I shan’t be dipping my toes in the tidal wave of that argument tonight. Surely this Government, with its abundance of fresh new ideas, will be able to propose a satisfying solution, yes?
However, there is something that we the people can do to help ease the financial costs of the NHS. My first recommendation is to be glad it’s around. I’m not saying that everything in the National Health Service is tip-top nor am I saying that we shouldn’t speak up against the problems. I myself have personally left over 53 cards in the suggestion box at the Royal Infirmary in the last twelve months. However, even as I was carefully writing out my complaint about the Matron’s disdainful look when I suggested my friend might prefer a north-facing bed, I did so gratefully for we are lucky to have the NHS and we mustn’t forget that.
Of course, I come from a country where health care for all means socialism and socialism is as evil as cursing children, kicking puppies and burying your grandma alive as soon as she’s got a little cough. Many Americans’ belief in individualism leads to a rather self-centred approach: I do for me, you do for you and ne’er the two shall meet (unless, of course, I need you to come put out my house fire, fix the pothole on my road, or stop this murderer from murdering me).
I don’t personally subscribe to this belief. I pay my taxes to benefit my community. I just don’t have the time to run school systems, police stations, libraries, etc. Though officials from all these institutions continue to contact me for input, I just can’t squeeze them into my tightly booked schedule. So instead, I throw some money their way. Does this mean I am always happy with how the money is spent? No. So I speak out: by voting or striking or filling suggestion boxes or hissing loudly whenever George Osborne comes on the telly.
It’s all about perspective really: one way of looking at it is that I pay my taxes to keep the NHS running so that when I am sick or hurt I can get help. Most things that benefit my community benefit me as well. However, even if I look at it as I am paying for someone else’s health care, then surely it must work both ways—someone else is paying for my health care.
Unfortunately, many Americans have a third perspective. They imagine that health care for all means that at the end of a long day of work, sweat dripping from their brow, they’ll be approached by a poor, toothless Jerry-Springer-reject sauntering up and demanding their hard-earned money to get a boob job for his common law wife (who is also his cousin). And they’ll be forced to hand over their wallets because that’s how socialized medicine works in their world.
However, it’s not just enough to be grateful to the NHS, we can also be mindful. Just because we have doctors available to us doesn’t mean that we should get stupid about using NHS resources. It’s not always necessary for us to go to the doctor. For example, even though some surgeries had fewer patients today, no one died (except for the people who did obviously). A lot of the times we book appointments when what’s really needed is not medical expertise, but common sense. Say you’ve got snuffly nose and a bit of a headache, you probably just need a good meal, hot bath and hard sleep. On the other hand, if you’ve just been shot in the eye with a staple gun, a trip to A&E would be appropriate. It’s about being sensible.
Sadly I’ll be unable to attend any meetings between the BMA and Andrew Lansley in the next few weeks, so fingers crossed, a compromise can be reached without me. We do live in frightful times, finance-wise, but we mustn’t let these difficulties hurt our country’s most valuable asset: the NHS and/or Jimmy Carr’s career.
*Don’t worry, you’re just too tense.