In the USA, there’s a raging debate (well, I call it a debate, it’s more like a slanging match in which neither side listens to the other at ever increasing volumes) over healthcare.
Obama wants reform. The Democrats are arguing about how far to go, because they are not quite as left wing as we may think they are. The key committee drafting the bill is made up of Senators who are given millions of dollars in campaign contributions from the healthcare industry. The Republicans, and particularly the idiotic rabble-rouser pundits, are hostile to the very idea and they’ve not got people to protest thinking that if the bill passes it’ll be just like Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and the plot of Soylent Green all rolled into one.
But now the right wing have gone too far. Even though the Obama healthcare plan doesn’t look anything like the NHS, the opposition have started to tell Americans about how terrible things are in the UK.
Sure, they could find some horror stories, some stats that show some conditions are treated in different ways, or that there are some areas with short resources or problems. We know about those, as we are perfectly able to moan about the NHS and it’s shortcomings. What these guys are doing, however, is spreading barefaced lies, such as:
1) If you are over 59 you can’t get heart treatment. LIE – the average age for heart treatment in the UK is about 60, and there’s no cut-off age
2) The NHS send food inspectors round to people’s homes to check for nutrition levels. LIE – they may have people who check on people with easting disorders, or inspect the food provision of care homes with NHS-paid beds, but that’s about it
3) Senator Edward Kennedy would not have had treatment for his brain tumour at the age of 77 if he’d been in the UK. LIE – I know of older people with terminal and non-terminal cancers who are getting treatment on the NHS. Kennedy might not have been given the same level of care in the USA as he got, if he weren’t incredibly rich, of course
4) We have ‘death panels’ which decide how much a person’s life is worth and on that basis whether the cost of treatment is worth it. LIE – individual patient treatments are determined by clinicians with informed patient consent.
5) A genius like Prof Stephen Hawking would not have survived in the UK. LIE LIE LIE – he is British and has asserted that the NHS has enabled him to survive.
I’m not a massive facebook user, but I’ve joined Say NO to republican slights against the NHS, and would ask that others do too.