And THIS is what Britain wants to see in government? Really??

So, apparently the Tories are all set for a landslide victory in the next general election. Both Mori and Yougov, as well as many of the newspapers are predicting a huge turnaround in the political identities of bums on seats at Westminster. I feel very unsettled at the thought of a Conservative government. I have absolutely no faith in any of the potential Conservative ministers, and certainly no confidence in Mr Cameron’s abilities as a leader who could see us through turbulent economic times, not to mention the various conflicts around the world in which we are entangled. Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer today reports that one of Mr Cameron’s fellow shadow cabinet ministers even describes him “as a leader obsessed with “the getting there rather than the being there”.”

I don’t generally write political opinions here. I usually keep my posts about family anecdotes or other more ‘local’ matters. But an article on the BBC news website today has inflamed me to such an extent that I felt the need to write my thoughts down here. Perhaps it will purge some of my ill-feeling towards the ‘centre right’.

Because, according to the BBC, a centre-right think tank posits that we should pay £20 each time we visit our doctor, in an effort to reduce the number of timewasters who clog up surgery appointment schedules. But this WON’T reduce the amount of timewasters to any large degree, it will only discourage the people who can’t afford to pay £20. I believe that it could be dangerous, as it would inevitably increase the amount of self-diagnosis and self-treatment. And also, think of the number of people who could have major illnesses missed as a result of failing to take more minor niggles (which could be danger signs) to their GP. I know I would certainly have hesitated more before going to my GP if I’d been asked to pay for her opinion, and I’ve been referred to hospital for further investigation into illnesses twice in the last eighteen months (luckily both times the problems turned out to be relatively minor and are now all better, in case you were worried!) as well as another issue which involved me being asked by my GP to return for several further consultations with her.

Now, I feel guilty enough about taking up my GP’s time, without the added guilt of spending this money which would be (in my mind) more usefully spent elsewhere within my family.

And the political spectrum from which this think tank originates is precisely the same part of the field from whence will come a Conservative government. Do you see where I’m coming from, now? How many more stupid and dengerous ideas like this would we be subjected to under Tory control? How many more would actually be made into policy? At the moment, the current (Labour) government rejects this idea as against the fundamental principles of the National Health Service. And it is. It was set up to provide healthcare to ALL, regardless of whether one could afford it or not.

And yes, I did notice that the fee wouldn’t apply to children or those on tax credits, but what about those who just miss out on tax credits (as we do) but still would have to take pause before paying out £20?

You shouldn’t have to think twice before visiting your doctor if you have a concern about your health. And yes, maybe a free healthcare system does encourage a small minority of people who waste time and resources, but that is the price you pay for universal healthcare. We have managed to abolish prescription charges in Wales, with Northern Ireland and Scotland following suit soon, so why introduce a penalty in another place? We have been the envy of the world in the past for our all-encompassing and available to all health service. Why would we want to take steps away from that by reversing the trend of progress?


2 Responses

  1. Jenny – thanks for this. As you know, I do more Labour politics than is good for me, and sometimes I think people don’t know or have forgotten that there are bigger issues at stake. The Tories will be a disaster for ordinary people. This post gave me some hope that people do remember.

    Hope all well with you and Rob and the boys. Bx

  2. Hi Bella – good to hear from you! As to the issue in hand – I am genuinely worried about the consequences of a Tory government being elected. People have very short memories if they’ve forgotten about the eighties and early nineties already. And, as my mother pointed out today when we were discussing this post, exactly how much would this cost to implement? How many more civil servants and quangos would it take to keep it going? Are surgery receptionists actually expected to turn people away if they are really sick but can’t afford an appointment? And what about people who need regular follow-ups, such as those suffering blood pressure problems? Ooh, I could go on and on!

    I feel like I need to point out the various Tory stupidities as I hear them though, in an effort to convince those few British voters which pass by my blog that electing in Cameron would be sheer idiocy! I don’t want people who view £250k per year as “chicken feed” to be deciding the level of taxes I should pay!

    OK, I’m going to stop now and drink some alcohol, before I burst a blood vessel!

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