NHS general practice turns 68 today, which is a cause for celebration and a time to reflect on its place in the family of national institutions. But it feels like the mood of Government has turned from looking at general practice as a wise and valued guide through life, to seeing it as a burdensome hanger-on from a past age.
The plan is to privatise the NHS. Blinded by the trillions of dollars the health industry generates for the USA and the subsequent donations private healthcare providers would quite possibly give to their party as a thank you, they are clear that the blight of the state-provided NHS to the free markets must go...
Maybe there really is just a sense of futility about the whole thing. Maybe it would be easier to sit back and let the powers that be take control and dismantle our health service, transforming it into whatever they feel is the best for the British public. My issue with this argument is that it is not for the government to decide for us. As many of the fantastic speakers at Crash Call reminded us, this is OUR NHS. We pay for it and we use it, so we should have a say in its future.
I was asked this week why the NHS doesn't fund all the new technologies available for patients, particularly those with cancer. And when I instantly replied "Because we can't afford to", I surprised myself. Because no-one seems to say that when they talk about the NHS. And the NHS doesn't like to say no.
With the General Election campaign now considered to have officially started, the parties are already mapping out their territory. There are few surprises and are unlikely to be any over the coming months but for Labour the challenge is particularly acute. The party knows that the NHS could be a winning issue for it but can it move beyond the NHS and onto other issues?