On a personal level, having been a type 1 diabetic for almost 11 years, the NHS saves me on a daily basis. I don't have to worry about the costs of my life-saving medications, or going without so I can pay my rent or put food on the table. It sounds so simple but in many countries of the world, this just isn't true. Even in the USA, there are people with life-threatening conditions like diabetes going without insulin or blood glucose testing equipment just to make ends meet. I'm also an incredibly clumsy human being, a trait I have in common with my three siblings. Between us we have racked up a huge number of visits to A&E, broken limbs, head injuries, you name it. Not once have my family had to consider whether we could afford to go and get that wrist x-rayed or that wound dressed. We take it for granted. When my brother was a child and had severe asthma, the NHS was there. When my mum had appendicitis, the NHS was there. When my granny fell and broke her hip, the NHS was there. I could go on. Every person and family in this country owes a debt of gratitude to the NHS, and I honestly believe that we as a nation don't take the time to think about what a wonderful institution it is - healthcare for all, regardless of wealth, gender, age, race or any other factors.
In recent years, the NHS has come under a lot of pressure to improve, with some legitimate criticism: after all, after 65 years we can't expect it to work in the same way as it did when so much about our society and lives has changed. But the changes that are happening now are moving the NHS away from it's roots not for the benefit of patients, but for one goal only: to make money. The NHS is being dismantled bit by bit and sold off to the highest bidder, with no regard to it's original aims and the good it has done for so many. And after years of austerity, the British public are too tired and worn down to object. The NHS is like so many of us - it has it's flaws, and sometimes it struggles to carry on under the huge load it is bearing. But like us, the NHS may be battered but it is not beaten. As Nye Bevan so prophetically put it all those years ago: "The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it." That fight is now upon us, and the only question is whether we as a nation still have that faith to stand and defend it.