This week I have, hopefully, reached the end of relatively long eye saga which gives me the perfect opportunity to sing the praises of the NHS, which is currently under massive financial pressure after repeated brutal attacks from the politicians (predominantly the Conservatives). In 1948 Bevan helped the Attlee Labour government established a free health service (the National Health Service (NHS)) for the people of Britain. This is paid for by the UK tax system, but what it means is that if you are ill you get treated properly for free. Almost from the outset different governments have introduced charges for various aspects of the NHS treatment but, when the chips are down, you get treated. I have, unfortunately, had various health problems during my life and each time I have been put back together by the NHS. My latest saga started with a serious retinal tear in Oct 2015, followed by a successful repair and a vitrectomy. This week I had a cataract repair (which is an expected consequence of the vitrectomy). These images sum up what it was like for me in my right eye pre surgery (image on the right (to be honest it was much worse)) and how it is now (on the left), the lower images show why!
If I am honest I was terrified prior to surgery: compared to the retinal surgery this was much simpler, but it could still go wrong, I had to have another anaesthetic (the last one was horrible), there is the fear of the pain (hideous last time) and what if I couldn’t see afterwards? All this was rushing around my brain, particularly the potential risk of blindness in my eye (which is a potential risk) and these fears were what I went through last time after retinal surgery. On the other hand I might be able to see normally with my new lens for the first time since I was 10. Pre surgery the arrow drawn by the surgeon marked the spot. My buddy Edwin passed me in the hospital and insisted on this photo, and its presence either on Facebook or the blog!!!
The cataract surgery is so far fantastic and, so long as there are no complications, it is nothing short of remarkable. It is, for me, life transforming and I now want to rush back to California and look at everything again (any excuse of course!!!!).
All of this treatment has been free, with a couple of general anaesthetics, two rounds of surgery with one of the top surgeons in the world and multiple appointments with phenomenally caring staff. You have to wait a bit, but I have no complaints. What I see in the NHS, though, are staff who are very thinly stretched yet somehow manage to be kind, caring, skilled and compassionate. My care has been fantastic despite people having to work under very difficult conditions.
The NHS is chronically underfunded and the biggest recent problems were due to Andrew Lansley and his reforms under Cameron’s government followed by continual under investment by the conservatives. The Andrew Lansley Rap beautifully sums this up (https://youtu.be/Dl1jPqqTdNo (this is not for those who are offended by swearing)). I have been stunned by how much more difficult things have become for the NHS in the 9 months I was in the USA. We have to put in more money and presumably we will have to have some sort of insurance system similar to France or Holland as the Conservatives refuse to contemplate tax increases. I do often argue with some of my very dear friends who do not understand why I am a socialist (be it champagne or otherwise), but I just don’t understand what is wrong with paying taxes to have a caring compassionate state where health care is free and we have outstanding medical clinicians wanting to work in the NHS. We are already loosing brilliant clinicians, who have left to work elsewhere in the world: is this really what we want to happen? This is why I am a socialist and why I am so sad at the current state of our Labour Party. No one is opposing the Conservatives which can only mean even more problems for the NHS. Irrespective of your political leanings its important to have a strong opposition to keep the government on its toes. Do we really want a private health system where only the rich get treated and the poor are left to die? This used to be the reality for the poor and, pre-Obama care, this is how it was for some people in the USA. Is it really more important to have an extra pound in your pocket (particularly if you have lots of money already), than to pay a bit of extra tax to ensure free health for all?