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.