I got sent an email yesterday. Woo yeah, big man huh? Getting an email like a flashy show off yeah? Yes, I realise its a moot first sentence, as I get emails everyday (more showing off) and the large majority of them have little to no relevance to your lives, let alone mine.
Though occasionally its nice to think that Etta James did actually email me before she died saying I was the only benefactor of all her cash because of my kind hearted ways (genuine spam I received. Yes. Seriously). This email yesterday though was worth noting as it was all about Max Pemberton's article in the Telegraph about the privatisation of the NHS. I had already read the rather brilliant article exposing the lack of choice given about healthcare providers since the passing of the reform, and the scary way that Surrey will now be having its community services provided for by Virgin Care, another of Branson's many enterprises.
You know Branson, the one that looks suspiciously like Usain Bolt with a moustache. I'm not by any means saying that Branson's company will be bad at this, and we may well find that Virgin excel in healthcare way more than they do in plane food and rail services, but that's not the point. The fact is, it's still, for the time being, known as the National Health Service. If you live in the UK, you are part of the 'National'. That's a small 't' on 'the' just incase the indie rock band get worried about splitting their PRS fees over 62 million ways. So that means the people receiving treatment on the NHS, should have some say on where that's coming from if its being sold off to private companies. Simple as.
Yes, yes, I know the term 'national' has been thrown about carelessly by the government for some years now like a hyperbole filled hackysack. The idea that Northern Rock or the Royal Bank of Scotland were ever nationalised banks is a hilarious joke at the best of times, not least when the former was sold off to, er, Virgin Money, without much recompense to the public, let alone those who'd suffered by being the bank's customers in the first place. Oh, Virgin again? How odd. Hmm. Well fact is, a nationalised bank should at least have been offered to a few of us first. We could've scraped a few pennies together and all worked three hours a week on a till. No? In all seriousness though, nationalised should mean its the country's to use and have a say in. Like the National Rail Service. Or the National Grid. Oh. I see. Hmm.
Well hoping none of those are examples to go by, if the privatisation of the NHS is going to happen, and it will happen rapidly since the passing of the bill, you'd think we'd get some choice in the matter. Not that choice really should come into it of course. What we should have is the best healthcare possible for those that need it. Sadly though it appears its either the healthcare that pays the government the most or you have to go private, possibly with exactly the same company. A choice not dissimilar to when kids at school would say 'Do you want a smack in face or a kick in the stomach?' giving that odd sense of control in a situation where either way, you'd end up crying all the way home.
Anyway, Max Pemberton says all this much better than me and the fact the Telegraph printed such an article in what appears to be an otherwise alleged media blackout on the NHS situation, is a brilliant thing and testimony to the freedom of the press and otherwise seemingly dead investigative journalism. Then I got that email. Yep the one I mentioned before. That one. And that email, from a very reliable healthcare professional and that for some reason was thrust into my mostly irresponsible hands, alleged (second use of that word and expect many more throughout this to avoid any sort of troubles) that Branson was threatening to sue the Telegraph and Max Pemberton for his article as well as demanding the right to reply. Now, I should add, that Branson has publicly denied this on his Twitter feed and Virgin have made the statement that they are not 'currently' planning to sue. A lovely use of the word 'currently' there. But before seeing that I quickly put the email up on Twitter, as several others did and word spread round like spreadable hot cakes.
So luckily, its not going to happen, but the mere idea of it and the fact that such threats may have possibly been made in the first place are both increasingly worrying. Is this an indication that the companies with the right money will be in charge of our health care and have the power to stop us finding out about the choices we didn't have? I've never disagreed with the idea that ignorance is bliss, but this feels more like sticking blinkers on those that are happy to be less than blissful. And let's be honest, a blissful Britain would eventually find a way to moan about such bliss. Personally if this country is going to be completely thrown to the dogs, I'd like to know exactly which dogs they are and if any have cute names or can do tricks before they tear my legs off. So I hope it was all just a dirty rumour, and we'll have to see how Virgin - and all the other companies that are no doubt signing deals as I type - fare as care providers. Otherwise I feel the dictionary definition of 'national' will need to change somewhat to something more along the lines of 'forced upon an entire nation of people without their consent'. And I'll be looking into how to join the indie rock band to claim my six millionth percentage of their PRS in order to afford private healthcare.