Congratulations on the special NHS supplement in issue 1233, and on the reporting and analysis in the Socialist over the years.
In celebrating the 75 years of the National Health Service, I wish it was the same NHS which probably saved my life in Liverpool during my youth, and gave me my 87 years to date.
Prior to the NHS, the doctor told my mother that, due to my chronic asthma, she should be prepared for me to die young. She had to pay him on every visit for this sort of consoling advice. All the regular medicines cost more than working-class parents could afford. However, I made it to the age of 12, having missed over a third of my schooling.
The introduction of the NHS totally changed all that. Families could change doctors, I was put onto an expensive cumbersome inhaler, but one which I could keep with me, as I do with my small inhaler today. This, with the pills, was all free, as were the visits to the doctor.
The last two years of my schooling were ideal. I could participate in all sports, even getting into a school team, and started a job on New Year’s Day 1950.
I am sure my experience was not unique. But I think it is an example of how much the establishment of the NHS meant to the lives of millions of working-class families, why it is so treasured today, and why this feeling has been passed down through the generations.
It contrasts clearly with the way this Tory government is privatising today, as explained by Jon Dale in the NHS75 supplement, and the current experiences of everyone including myself.
Having waited ‘only’ three weeks for an appointment to get a new mould for my hearing aid, I was then told the doctor could not proceed due to packed wax in my ear. He was untrained to clear it, as other doctors have in the past, and the Audiology Department no longer do it. I was told I would have to go to Boots or Specsavers to get it done, for around £55.
Keith Dickinson, West London Socialist Party