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The NHS is dead, long live the NHS

The NHS is dead, long live the NHS

Dr Shaba Nabi turns to verse to lament the decline of the NHS

Gather all ye round, for I will tell you a story,
A story to make you proud of mankind.
It outlines the miraculous birth of the NHS,
When Britain thought with one mind.

In the 19th century, a shopfront display, 
Bottles in brown, frosted glass.
The apothecaries would mix up their potions,
That they learned when they took on a class.

By 1815, they were training for five years,
And were open for all to see.
Performing surgery and delivering babies, 
They were no longer just a pharmacy.

But the poor couldn’t afford them, 
And when sick, their work did not pay.
With bad health and no income coming in, 
All that was left for them was to pray.

So along came David Lloyd George,
A liberal who gave us our notes.
With the National Insurance Act of 1911,
He succeeded in bringing in votes.

It gave workers sick pay when ill,
And panel GPs they were able to access.
It partly came from the state,
And was the forerunner to the NHS.

Back in 1911, he was just a boy,
Living in the valleys of Wales.
But Aneurin Bevan had some dreams of his own,
To equalise health at larger scales.

Inspired by Tredegar Medical Aid,
Medical care free at the point of need.
But the challenges came mainly from doctors,
And he knew he had to succeed.

He needed doctors onside at the final hour, 
And what he had to do was bold.
By retaining private care and independence,
He stuffed their mouths with gold.

Now GPs were seeing more than just workers,
There were women, the young and the old.
It was all free at the point of access,
And challenging to keep under control.

In 1952 came the introduction of charges,
With a system under considerable strain.
Charges for prescriptions, and teeth, and eyes,
And to the public Bevan had to campaign.

The NHS must be used prudently, intelligently, morally,
And not just used because free.
No reason people should abuse this opportunity’,
He had to get people to agree. 

Governments come and go, the NHS goes on,
Like an unwavering beacon of light.
To many born after 1948,
It’s part of our heritage; our birth right.

With a country divided, in more ways than one,
With class and power and wealth.
There was one constant, an equaliser,
And that was our precious health.

But the light is fading, we are no longer equal,
As the queues snake far and wide.
The NHS is dying, it’s lost its way,
It is no longer our national pride.

With ambulance queues outside hospitals,
Bodies lie for hours on the floor.
The workers are demoralised and striking,
And emergency rooms resemble a war.

As we approach a New Year,
Is it the end in sight?
Is the burnout too strong,
And have we lost our fight?

Long live the NHS,
For the NHS is dead.
Long live the NHS, 
And not a tear will be shed.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Kevlar Cardie 20 December, 2022 1:59 pm

My most recent comment has been taken down.

I would like to apologise

I in no way meant to harm the reputations of the noble callings of sex workers, money traffickers, drug dealers, organised criminals and the current occupants of the London Zoo Reptile house by perhaps drawing a too close comparison to Conservative Party MPs.

Patrufini Duffy 21 December, 2022 5:23 pm

It needs a new name.
It’s not really that national. More postcode. It isn’t really healthy. More medicalised and sick and may leave you in a bed, endless waiting or trolley to decline. And it isn’t really giving great service. More like a plaster for that momentary health anxiety and media scare. It was great one day ago, it’s trying – you’re trying – but it is dying a slow painful death. A decade of cover-up, silencing whistleblowers and shaming and scapegoating of carers, whilst budgets were siphoned off by top management and regulators tightened everyone’s necks. I don’t know, something like The SHN? The Slow, hopeful, neglect.

Mark Howson 23 December, 2022 12:27 pm

The NHS has been here before during the last Tory majority under Thatcher when it was starved of funds. Two year waiting lists. 12 hour A&E waits. We came to accept that was how it would always be. Then it had 10 years under Labour of its most effective time ad worked well with funding rapidly increased to the European average. Now we have had the worst funding in real times since it began. It is recoverable but not with the Tories in power. But it is in a knife edge. The worry is the alternative if it fails before we can get rid of the Tories will be much worse.

Simon Gilbert 25 December, 2022 12:41 pm

“The worry is the alternative if it fails before we can get rid of the Tories will be much worse.”

Why the worry? OECD shows you are more likely to die in the uk from many conditions compared to European alternatives.

Universal coverage and shorter waiting times with funding that can increase without the ‘correct’ government and economic environment is possible.

Kevlar Cardie 7 January, 2023 1:57 am

I’m not sure that I agree with everything this chap says, but worth a watch.
You may want to share.

David Banner 4 March, 2023 11:57 am

The NHS is like The Simpsons, brilliant in the 20th Century but effectively dead in the 21st, yet it staggers on in Zombie form year after year, seemingly forever, despite the fact that everyone knows it hasn’t been fit for purpose for decades.