"You may say that I am a dreamer/But I am not the only one" John Lennon: "Imagine"

"So come brothers and sisters/For the struggle carries on" Billy Bragg: "The Internationale"

Elizannie has a reading room at 'Clarice's Book Page' http://www.villiersroad.blogspot.com/

Friday 3 February 2012

Thank you, NHS and Welfare State

I haven't been around much lately, although my alter ego/twin sister Clarice did do 'a bit of blogging' in my stead.

Once more I have had reason to give very grateful thanks to the NHS for the great care it has given to one of my family - and this is the reason for my dilatoriness with regards to the world wide web in general and my blog in particular, just lately.

I have been one of the many campaigning to save the NHS from cuts and 're-organisations' from this dreadful coalition government. The NHS is not perfect - no large organisation can ever sit back and think it is - and the addition of lots of money would help it operate [yes pun alert!] and fulfil its duty to its 'clients' so much more - but do not let any of us think that this is the reason for the bills which the government is trying to force through Parliament at the moment.
Do you ever sit and play that game 'If I had been born 150 [or 100] years ago, I wouldn't still be alive because.....'? Some of us - and our mothers' - wouldn't have made it past the birthing bed. Looking at old census returns one often sees ancestors' reaching quite surprising old ages, but also realises how in the ten years between sucessive returns younger relatives too often inexplicably disappear. And if their death certificates are retrieved it is again too often shocking to read of the relatively minor illnessess from which these poor [usually in the financial sense] ancestors died: appendicitis, and of course psitis the 'proper word' for tuberculosis.

One heartbreaking death certificate shows how a six week old baby in 1845 died of 'marasmus'- which is really another name for malnourishment, probably since birth. Since two of his siblings survived and knowing the family medical history I have often wondered if he was a victim of either of the two relatively mild inherited conditions from which some of my own children and grandchildren have suffered and which were put right thanks to quick medical intervention.

The latest family medical problem concerns Eldest Son who contracted a viral illness which decided that instead of running its normal course it would take a different, rarer course and try to shut down some rather vital body functions. Cutting out all the 'the doctor said this, and the consultant said that' and the ride in the amubulance etc etc, it is suffice to say that the NHS pulled out all the stops. Whilst it will be a long time before he is back to normal mobility it is great to have him home and heartfelt thanks to the continuing support from the medical profession. Physiotherapists are home visiting and now it is down to time, medication and following the exercise routine. BTW the hospital stay also provided a great source of amusement to eldest Grandson [aged six] when he realised for what purpose the plastic bottle on the side was intended. It certainly enlivened 'newstime' at his school on the following Monday morning....

But again, what would have happened if Eldest Son had contracted this illness, say, seventy years ago? In our station in life it is doubtful if he could have paid for much more than a cursory medical appointment. Maybe if had held a comparable job his employers may have had a medical scheme - but then looking at our station in life would Eldest Son have had the University Education seventy years ago that would have enabled him to have had a comparable job? Certainly coming from our sort of class backgrounds, Other Half and I would not have had the University Educations which we have, which in turn would have meant that we would not have been able to help our children with their educational costs to gain their University Educations. And those costs were a lot, even before the current fees hike.

So if Eldest Son had survived the illness by good luck, rather than good medical care, there would not have been any money or time for physiotherapy. He will not be able to work for months yet. Using my example of seventy years ago, there would not have been an awful lot of state help then although if he had been in a union there might have been a little bit of help there. Mostly it would have been down to any family to help. His children might have had to go into orphanages/children's homes if he couldn't provide a financially proper family life. And if this had happened parents were generally speaking not allowed to visit their children as this was thought to be 'disruptive' to their care.

The parents, if their marriage survived, would be reduced to living in the cheapest accomodation they could find, if there were no relatives able to take them in. The prospects of anyone who had been really ill recovering full strength without money for nourishing food and warm, dry housing would not have been good. Social housing was mostly a dream and landlords guarded their profits rather than repair inadequate housing.

Look back at the lottery which was life before the NHS and the Welfare State. If you have any elderly relatives who can tell you about the times, ask them. Read a book about those times and the times leading to them:
Round About a Pound a Week by Maud Pember Reeves
Rothschild Buildings: Life in an East-End Tenement Block, 1887-1920 by Jerry White
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell

Read this blog which will show how the cuts so far are turning the current welfare system into one with too many inadequacies already - which must be reversed and not extended:

And campaign against this awful government who are slowly turning away from all the good things that have been implemented in the past seventy years:

The picture above says 'Thank You' in sign language [BSL]