Private Eye had a nice piece in its latest edition setting out a number of times we have been told by those 'on the left' that we have 'days to save the NHS'. Here are the highlights:
"There are 14 days to save the NHS." Tony 'you can trust me' Blair, 17 April 1997
"We have only 24 hours to save the National Health Service." Him again, 30 April 1997
"WE HAVE 48 HOURS TO SAVE OUR NHS." The Mirror, 10 October 2011
"We have just three months to save the NHS." Ed Miliband, 4 February 2012
"12 DAYS TO SAVE THE NHS." The Mirror, 26 February 2012
"We have just 13 days to save the NHS." Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey, 7 March 2012
"ONLY 24 HOURS TO SAVE THE NHS." The Mirror, 20 March 2012
"You have five days to save the NHS." Lord Reid, 14 September 2014
"Four months to save the NHS." The Mirror, 4 January 2015
"We only have 100 days to save the NHS as we know it." Ed Miliband, 27 January 2015
"JUST 52 HOURS TO SAVE OUR NHS" The Mirror, 5 May 2015
Either they're lying or just dim. I know what I think.
Perhaps just dim, as they seem very keen to forget the 'preferred provider' privatisation debacle under New Labour or the scandal of PFI deals which continue to hobble hospitals up and down the country with crippling debts - all in the interest of keeping costs of investment in the health service - which Labour bangs on about endlessly now - off the books to shore up Gordon Brown's short-sighted economics.
If only someone had the wit and the courage to admit the truth: that
the NHS is actually doing okay, daily providing a high quality service across the country but that it needs a sensible, fundamental non-political review
to bring it into the 21st century and ensure it remains the leading
health service in the world for decades to come.
There isn't a 'crisis'. We don't need to 'save' the NHS. We just need to bring it up to date and that requires courage and long-term thinking, which is so clearly lacking.
I'd quite like to see the Lib Dems - newly freed from the chains of working with the Tories - saying this perhaps a bit more bluntly. Norman Lamb was a wonderful advocate for health and social care and I hope he continues that in this Parliament. I'd like to think that others would listen to him...but what hope?
So, much will be uncertain in 2020 but we can doubtless all be clear that the 'debate' about the NHS will be just as tired and unproductive then as it is now. I wonder how many days we will have to 'save the NHS' then...