As we watch the last remaining jewel in Britain’s crown flushed down the toilet of progress, along with the twin dumps of EU Citizenship and Religious Equality, it’s hard to know who to listen to. Rather than having two clear and delineated sides that argue against one another, it would seem that the only thing people can’t agree on is how well the toilet is working.
Depending on who you ask, the NHS has either been walking up a hill of repair or declining slowly for the past few years. If you asked the doctors, they’d tell you major changes were needed for the continued success of the NHS. If you asked Jeremy Hunt, he’d probably smile awkwardly and tell you that most doctors actually only work one day a year. It may have been clear who you should be supporting, but you still had two competing sides.
In the light of figures that have been leaked to the BBC, hospitals are quickly coming to resemble the sort of preamble you see during the moments that set up the story for a zombie movie. There’s actual tangible evidence of how strained parts of the NHS currently are. It’s no longer down to you to explain how hard it was for your Nan when she was left on that cold hard trolley for six hours. Now you’ve got cold hard statistics to back it up, while the media has footage of her with tubes up her nose playing on a loop on a twenty-four hour news channel.
The cadaver is out of the coffin at this point, so the only thing the opposing side can do now is argue, that while the situation is dire, it’s not apocalyptically dire. It’s only a bit dire. While the BMA state that this is yet another example of how the government must make urgent moves if they hope to save the NHS, the Department of Health claims that the data is unverified and that the leaking is irresponsible
Just to clarify, the British Medical Association is a registered trade union for doctors working in the UK that continues to be an important asset in the evolution of the NHS. The Department of Health is a government office that attempts to figure out how best to look after you, once they’ve figured out how to save money while doing it. They put your health second to the economy. The Department of Health is fundamentally compromised by their inability to see you as anything more than a possible drain on this country’s resources, and yet they are the ones making the decisions. Unsurprisingly, the government would rather lose a person than a pound.
So, when the BMA has told us that everything in the leaked data falls in line with what the doctors have been telling them, it seems unlikely that they’re lying. However, when the Department of Health tell us not to read into the facts as they’ve not been verified, this usually means they weren’t given a chance to come up with a statement that pathetically attempts to spin the situation. This means they’ve had to accept that looking at this data is a grim affair that tells us more than we ever wanted to know about how badly the system is being managed. They just want you to ignore that.
In the hope I’d find something a little more divisive, I turned to Jeremy Hunt. Surely that man, of all people, would be able to spin this into being the doctor’s fault, or at the very least argue that the numbers were actually an indication that the five-year plan that has been set in place is working. But no! Even Hunt believes that the leak shows performance is “completely unacceptable” in parts and that there is “no excuse.” Who knew that it would only take human beings having to wait for twelve hours, after either an accident or an emergency, to get him to admit there are problems in the NHS? It’s refreshing in a way.
Where do we go from here then? One of the easier things about being a liberal in your twenties is that you can be pretty much guaranteed you know who to move with. Who do we believe now that there’s an entirely unprecedented agreement that parts of the NHS are, for all intents and purposes, fucked?
I imagine that we’ll just go on siding with the people that we always have done. I’ll continue to listen to the World Health Organisation, the BMA, actual healthcare professionals and institutions that have proven their trustworthiness in the past. Others will watch the ship sink, listening to Jeremy Hunt stutter and stumble over his words as it goes down. Don’t worry though, as there’s another boat on its way from America that is definitely fit for purpose. It was built by big companies on various forms of unstable finance, and they’re more than willing to let you on as long as you pay the toll.
All artwork was created by Stephanie Hamer. You can take a look at her other work here.