Check your own garden before you criticise our roses, Potus
In 2010, we had a longer-than-planned family holiday in Florida - thanks, Eyjafjallajokull.
While in a Naples health store buying gluten-free bread, I had an interesting and enlightening conversation with the owner.
“Hey, are you from the UK?”
“Yes, from England.”
“I love your accent.”
“Thanks. Yours is very nice too [it wasn’t].”
“It must be awful living in England.”
“Er, no. Why do you say that?”
“Well, I’ve heard about your NHS, with people dying on the streets. It sounds like the Third World.”
“Actually, the NHS is the reason that I’m alive, my mum is alive and my dad is alive. It’s amazing.”
There followed an awkward silence, the exchange of money and a polite “have a nice day”, which I interpreted as “I hope you choke on the crumbs.”
What I wanted to say was that she should stop watching Fox News, engage her brain and have a look at the healthcare system in her own totally maladjusted country.
I wanted to tell her how my knee was skilfully rebuilt by a surgeon, Dad had life-saving skin cancer and heart treatment, Mum was helped to full recovery from a stroke, rapid intervention saved my leg (and possibly more) when I got blood poisoning, one of our sons was getting tremendous ongoing support for diabetes and coeliac’s, etc, etc.
The American idiocy continues. This week, Donald Trump shocked nobody by saying something inaccurate and downright stupid.
He said that in the UK people were marching to protest against the NHS.
No, you buffoon, they were marching - and millions of us are with them in solidarity - to save the NHS as it struggles to cope with underfunding, overwork and the threat of privatisation.
That’s because everybody in this country has a story to tell about how this system of universal, free-at-the-point-of-need care has helped them or a loved one.
Even Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt tweeted back at Mr Trump, pointing out that 28 million Americans have no access to free health care, compared to zero people in the UK.
This is the man who protesters were vilifying for the chronic underfunding and creeping privatisation. Even he can see the holes in Trump’s Emmental-esque argument.
Locally, we have highlighted some truly appalling incidents recently, including a man who froze to death during a 13-hour wait for an ambulance.
If The Donald read the stories, he’d no doubt tweet something like: “People are freezing to death on the streets of Britain. Very bad. NHS NOT GOOD!”
But we don’t highlight these incidents to vilify the system, we do it to highlight the tragedies occurring as the NHS is being stretched thinner than cling film.
We do it because we care about and support the NHS, and want it to get the treatment it needs to extend its life.
Meanwhile, for every tragedy, for every error, there are thousands of examples of great work. Most of the examples are mundane but valued: a GP appointment for a cough; a blood test; ear syringing; physiotherapy; counselling.
There is no doubt that we are in the midst of a frantic period of CPR on the heart of the NHS.
I believe we will succeed because it is so valuable to every one of us. More than that, we must succeed: life without the NHS would be considerably bleaker than with it.
But the struggle isn’t helped by ignorant comments from across the pond.
They feed the lie, giving ballast to the numbskulls who oppose it.
Here’s my message: “Wow! MAJOR LOZER @realDonaldTrump. Says NHS bad. Check your own garden before you criticise our roses, Potus. NOT GOOD!!