Adopt A Peer
So that whole thing of the Commons passing the massively ill conceived and misguided and unwanted Health and Social Care Bill, that never happened, right? RONG.
It was even suggested by some cynial types that the whole Dorries kerfuffle that got commented on and liveblogged was some kind of diversion, a smokescreen for the real damage they were about to inflict on the NHS, while our attention was diverted with some incredibly dangerous bit of nonsense they had no intention of going through with. I don't know.
But maybe this piece of news is so awful that it's just not possible to process it. Maybe it's disbelief. They can't. They won't. They promised they wouldn't. Maybe people who have grown up with the NHS have got so used to it, they can't even imagine how awful it could be without it.
Someone in my tweetstream suggested that they'd seen more support for the Save BBC4 campaign than any Save the NHS campaign. Maybe most people, healthy people just use BBC4 more, on a daily basis than the NHS we all just kind of take for granted.
Well, there's this: http://goingtowork.org.uk/peers/
It hasn't got through the House of Lords yet, so there's a chance... maybe they won't. I mean, they can't, right? Maybe people have faith that they can't really sell off the NHS.
I wrote a letter. I wrote an actual physical, stick-it-in-the-post letter. I can't tell you the last time I did that, I've got to used to signing petitions, on paper and online, and watching them do absolutely no good at all. What extra harm could writing a letter to a Lord or Lady do. I have to do *something* beyond all that clicking and signing.
Anyway, here's the text of what I wrote:
I am writing to you as part of a campaign to urge the Peers to change or reject the Health and Social Care Bill, in order to stop the NHS being broken up or having parts of it sold off. But instead of sending the form letter they suggested, I’m going to tell you some of my experiences, and why the future of the NHS is so important to me.
I was born in England, but when I was 9, my family moved to the States, and I spent my teens and my early 20s there. In my late 20s, I returned to the UK, expecting to stay only a few years, but instead I have resettled here permanently and remained here for over 12 years. Apart from the expected family and cultural connections, my single greatest reason for making the UK my home again was the NHS.
You see, I have a long-term health issue. I am bipolar. It is a treatable condition. With regular access to proper medical care, I am able to live a normal life. I work full-time (I have a good job, as a computer programmer.) I pay taxes, I support myself, pay my mortgage, and contribute to the UK economy. Thanks to the excellent care I receive, from the NHS, I am able to be a fully functioning member of society.
In the US, my "pre-existing condition" made me uninsurable. Despite the fact that my condition is controllable, the amount of care they thought I required made it almost impossible for insurance companies to make a profit off me, so I was denied insurance. I was unable to pay, not just for my long-term condition - making my mental health so unstable that I was sometimes not able to even hold a job - but for other simple, basic healthcare, such as broken bones and ear infections.
Running health care on a principle which puts profit before people means that people like me, who are capable of living normal, productive lives, are denied the chance to do so, because we are not profitable. If the NHS is changed, to echo the American system of "competition" and "profit-making" it is people like me who will suffer.
I urge you, in your debate and vote on this bill, to resist the unnecessary changes this bill would bring.
I recognise this is probably not non-problematic. I speak only for myself. I can't help thinking that maybe I'm being a bit harsh by referring to myself as only being a "productive member of society" when I am able to work, as if people who are too sick to work are somehow not? I don't mean that, I mean, working - or not working, so much as the *ability* to work, the ability to be sane and healthy enough to BE ABLE TO work is so damned important to me that I'm terrified that US-style profitmongering would strip me of it.
I had a bit of a wakeup call two weeks ago. I don't want to get into too many details, but I experienced some online bullying which pushed me into what felt like the start of another ... episode. I had some disturbing and quite frankly terrifying symptoms, which in the past have been precursors to a breakdown, even hospitalisation. This time, I recognised the symptoms. Crying and shaking, I went to my doctor. Who saw me immediately, and packed me in a cab (they kindly offered me an ambulance, but I didn't think I needed one yet) to the emergency room, with a letter to the psychiatric crisis response team. I was seen, evaluated and treated within hours. Timely intervention meant that expected breakdown did not have to occur. I was back at work within 3 days. But this is the kind of shit that reminds me sometimes, how thin the line between "functioning", "sanity", "coping" and nonfunctioning, madness, breakdown can be for me. This is when the NHS seems most real, to me, most important. Remembering what it was like, back in the States, being uninsured, when those kinds of symptoms meant a breakdown, meant getting sacked from another job, months of my life (not to mention the people around me) getting turned upside down.
I guess there's more at stake for people like me. But I don't know what I can even do.