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Twitter Users Share Their Best Stories Of the British NHS (National Health Service)

By Petr Knava | Social Media | September 16, 2021 |

By Petr Knava | Social Media | September 16, 2021 |


It’s a day ending in ‘y’ which means there must be a negative campaign against the NHS (National Health Service) in England’s media. Birthed in 1948 by an actual left-leaning Labour government and against vicious Tory opposition, the NHS is one of the UK’s most beloved institutions. In a largely secular country, it can at times feel like something akin to a national religion. During the height of the first waves of the Covid pandemic, people in the UK willingly undertook a nightly nationwide window/balcony clapping ritual to show their support for the NHS. The touching nature of this spectacle was somewhat undermined by the fact that it was loudly supported by a Tory government that has been eviscerating the NHS for more than a decade, deliberately underfunding it to bring it to its knees while opening up huge swathes of it to the corporate sector as part of a long term plan to privatise the nation’s healthcare.

As beloved as the NHS, it is also under siege. This isn’t a siege that began with the Tories—though their 2012 Health And Social Care Act did accelerate the move towards privatisation greatly. It was in fact Tony Blair’s centrist melt Labour government that introduced the disastrous PFIs (private finance initiatives), bringing the private sector into many elements of the UK’s public infrastructure, including the NHS. This has only accelerated under successive governments, with billions pounds worth of healthcare contracts now regularly going to private providers and GP surgeries being subsumed en masse by American for-profit healthcare interests.

Ministers of all stripes know that to attack the NHS directly is foolhardy. The public are simply too fond of it. So the attacks have to come sideways. Chronic underfunding is the main offense. This leads to catastrophic staff shortages, low morale, and a worsening of services as incredibly overworked and underpaid staff struggle to cope with ever-increasing demand. Then, the pliant organs of the mainstream media pile in and begin to lob the usual calumnies at the NHS. The propaganda machine is a well-oiled one. As my friend, doctor and activist Youssef El-Gingihy, put it:

Now a new bill is being put to Parliament that will open up the NHS even further to the predatory capitalist vultures that have been circling it for decades. Prior to the general election in 2019 Jeremy Corbyn tried to warn the public that this is what would happen if the Tories came into power, but in response to this he was—in line with his overall treatment by the press and the right wing of his party—destroyed for telling the truth. Now, the Tories campaign to destroy, dismantle, and sell-off the NHS continues apace. In August, The Guardian reported that the NHS had dropped from its prestigious spot on top of the global rankings of national healthcare providers. The mainstream corporate press will seize on any weakness and will use this to further damage the NHS. This cycle will continue until the privatisation agenda is complete. The NHS is far from perfect by any means. Like most similar organs it’s affected by institutional racism, sexism, and transphobia, and many other structural prejudices. It’s not beyond reproach. Far from it. Yet as we are currently in the grip of a particularly virulent media campaign against the NHS—aimed at GP surgeries ostensibly not providing enough care to patients despite having just gone through a 15 month cycle of absolute hell while still managing to deliver services to a high standard—it’s important to provide a corrective against the propaganda bile in order to counter the agenda for that most barbarous of models, healthcare for profit.

To that end, Twitter users were sharing their best experiences of the NHS in response to a prompt by user RebeKah:

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Petr is a staff contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.

Header Image Source: Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images