The UK’s NHS Turned 70

I know in the UK we are very lucky to have the NHS. It saves lives that would be unsavable if the payment system was different. It’s funded by the taxpayer and the government allots a certain amount of the yearly budget to it. There is a downside to this. Because they view it as ‘free,’ which it isn’t (unless you are on benefits and don’t pay tax), the general public has used it and abused it and broken it. What the NHS was set up for 70 years ago is not how it is used today.

There is also the problem of people living longer, often using an array of medications – a study found that almost half of people over 65 in the UK are on an average of at least 5 different medications a day!1  And the general public’s health is so much worse because of obesity, lifestyle-induced illness, etc., which has caused the most monumental financial strain on it. And then there are chronically ill people like me. I hate how much I cost the NHS year in, year out. I wish I didn’t have to take the meds that I do. I wish I wasn’t a burden to the taxpayer (of which I am one). But I am.

NHS and my family

Recently, the NHS turned 70 and social media was full of stories of how amazing it is and without it, they wouldn’t be alive, or family members wouldn’t be here. And for me, this is true. My father had a heart bypass at 35 in 1986, which meant full on open heart surgery. Today, it’s a very different procedure. Yes, he had private medical insurance, but the NHS played a part in his survival. My sister was 7 weeks early and was in an incubator for 3 weeks. Once again, my parents had private health insurance then. But the NHS played a part.

And me. Well, where do I begin? 11 years of treatment and all that entails. I dread to think how much it has cost so far. And I’m an NHS patient. I didn’t have private healthcare, and if I had it now, my policy would be at least 3 times as much as my peers. So the NHS has saved me, without a doubt. Without treatment, I would have died but I don’t have the feeling of gratefulness that others seem to have. Maybe it’s because I’m exhausted. Because treatment is never-ending. Because my life is not what it could be. Should be? Yes. My life is not what it should be.

Immune to death

Maybe because I was never going to die I can be this glib about it. I don’t know that I am happy the NHS has saved me. Ungrateful? Probably. I have friends who have died. I have become too immune to death. I have had to deal with too much for someone of my age.

But then again. I’m still here. I don’t have to worry about my leukemia killing me. So I can sit in this lofty tower of I don’t know what. Hubris probably.

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