Dan Hannan’s still off on his badmouthing-the-NHS-around-the-world tour, this time telling the Army & Navy Club in Washington that free healthcare (like what we’ve got) represents a ‘huge power grab by the state machine’. Someone give the boy a biscuit.
Hannan obviously departed this planet for MiltonFreedmanWorld long ago. Making sick people better, for no cost at the point of need, means ‘squeezing the private sector’? Forgive me if I don’t care.
He’s also, of course, lying. ‘In Great Britain, he explained, “It is not uncommon to wait six, 10, even 12 months for a knee operation.”‘ OK, let’s have a look at the figures, shall we…
‘The number of patients, for whom English commissioners are responsible, waiting over the 26 weeks standard at the end of June 2009 was 23’ – NHS inpatient and outpatient waiting times figures, 30 June 2009. That’s twenty-three people in England waiting more than six months for treatment. Twenty-three. In the whole of England.
Does Hannan really believe that American-style ‘give me insurance or give me death’ is a better system? Americans don’t. Watch ‘Sicko‘ if you’ve got time. If you haven’t, watch that episode of Friends where Joey has to audition for a new job while he has a hernia. Or if you’re really in a hurry, why not just enjoy this instructive cartoon. (Dr. Hand is ‘the invisible hand of the free market’, don’t you see.)
Having wilfully misrepresented both our system and the American lack of a system, Hannan went on to insult NHS staff. In his Washington speech he trotted out the old line about the NHS being the world’s third-largest employer (as though it was a bad thing to keep 1.4 million people in work during a recession) – and then on Fox News he described our NHS staff as the ‘electoral bloc’ that makes the NHS impossible to get rid of.
Who can tell whether Dan Hannan really believes this? That the NHS is a Marxist invention; that our medical staff are holding the country to ransom and that, if only they were forbidden to vote, the rest of the UK would be crying out for the Tories to put us out of our misery and send us begging to our employers for medical insurance?
And hey – who cares, right? We know that America doesn’t have the best healthcare system in the world, as the Washington Times outrageously claims. We know that title belongs to…well, probably somewhere in Scandinavia. But we’re proud of our health service because we know that – especially under a Labour government – we will never have to go without vital treatment because we are unemployed; we will never have to pay the full price for medication; if we are poor or with a long-term health condition we will not have to pay for it at all. This is the health service that has saved the lives of my grandparents, my mother, my little sister and me. We know it. And that’s why Dan Hannan is a celebrity in America and a national joke in the UK. Right?
Well…sort of. The thing is, since Obama’s made clear what he thinks of Cameron, you can hardly blame the Tories for wanting to be a bit more popular in America. They love it when Hannan slags off 1.4 million of our hardworking NHS staff on Fox News. They watch it on YouTube. Last time he did it, don’t forget, they rewarded him with a speaking slot at Tory Spring Conference. He’s like that ‘Between The Lines‘ game on Mock The Week, except there’s no need for Hugh Dennis because Hannan says what David Cameron is really thinking.
We cannot trust our National Health Service to these people. Whatever they pretend, they do not believe in it. They think our grandmothers would be better off with BUPA (like theirs are) and our nurses would be better off on the dole.
If you work in the health service – one of those 1.4 million trapping us in this Marxist hell – or if you’re related to someone who does; or if you or your family have ever relied, as most of us do, on our GPs, our hospitals, our paramedics or NHS Direct; I’d say to you: the Tories want to charge £20 for you to see your GP. They want to hand your medical records over to Google. And Hannan wants to sack you. If you’re an electoral bloc, I’d suggest you act like one. And I don’t suggest you vote for that.
ETA – Ellie has drawn my attention to the White House’s ‘Healthcare Reform Reality Check ‘ site, where myths about Obama’s healthcare reforms are busted. Worth a read if you’re on that side of the pond.