Letters: A very personal plea - don’t privatise the NHS

These letters appear in the October 20 edition of The Independent

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I have read with interest your many articles about the NHS. Having received a great deal of treatment from the NHS over the past three years, I thought it was about time I gave my thoughts and experiences.

I live in Worcestershire and have access primarily to a superb GP. We have been with this practice for many years and have built up an excellent relationship with all the staff, GPs, practice nurses and ancillary staff.

In 2010 I finally decided that problems with arthritis were severely hampering what I could do. Having gone through preliminary procedures we – the GP and I – decided that an operation was needed.

My GP was happy to refer me to my hospital of choice: the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham. Over the next 12 months I had two procedures: a right ankle fusion and 12 months later a left knee replacement.

During both of these procedures my experience was one of total satisfaction, both with the outcomes of the operations and the care administered by the staff.

I am now, thanks to dedicated, committed and highly skilled NHS staff, totally pain-free.

I thought that I had done at that point and felt very grateful to a superb health service. I was wrong. I was diagnosed shortly afterwards with bowel cancer. Once again I received first-rate treatment from doctors and surgeons.

I am now recovering and, throughout all my experiences of four separate NHS trusts covering six hospitals, I can honestly say that I was treated with kindness, care, respect and some of the most skilful surgery and radiotherapy you could wish for. 

I have had treatment from the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust, Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire, and community support services, as well as the Royal Orthopaedic  Hospital and my GP at St John’s Surgery in Bromsgrove.

My final point is this: stop knocking the NHS. Yes, there may well be problems; it’s an enormous organisation which is strapped for cash. My abiding memories are of dedicated, skilled individuals who are committed to the very best of care and treatment they can offer. The best part, by far, of the NHS is the people.

I genuinely hope that current and subsequent governments keep their hands off a service which was and should still be one of the best there is.

I would not choose to have private healthcare. I have been treated to some of the best surgery I could wish for and all delivered free. The NHS was groundbreaking at its inception and still maintains those ideals, when it is allowed to do its work unfettered by interference.

Don’t privatise the NHS.

Peter Garnett
Bromsgrove, Worcestershire


Could there be anything more chilling than the unnamed Government source’s comment in your report “Tens of thousands of patients at risk from NHS outsourcing” (17 October) about “the need to minimise regulatory burdens on business”?

In other words, safeguards put in place to protect patient safety must be lowered in order to allow the private sector to extract more profit out of patient sickness.

Christopher Anton


If the Germans had taken Stonehenge...

It’s 1956 and the Third Reich is well established over the whole of Europe. His Excellency Herman Schmidt, Governor of occupied England, grants permission for a German aristocrat to remove the stones of Stonehenge to a site in Berlin where they are re-erected in a museum to the ancient world.

It cost the German aristocrat a lot of money to transport them over to Berlin, so the then German superstate bought the stones off him in recompense.

Let’s skip forward a couple of hundred years and, supported by the US, the people of Britain, in a decade-long war, have reclaimed their land. Seeking to restore their cultural history, they apply to a now chastened Germany for the return of Stonehenge on the grounds that it is stolen goods.

How is this any different to our unlawful possession of the Elgin Marbles? The Greek people have an absolute right to the return of stolen goods. 

G Barlow
Greasby, Wirral


Egg freezing gives women choice

Media and public alike have been too quick to criticise the move by Facebook and Apple to pay female workers to freeze their eggs.

These companies are being progressive, acknowledging that many of their female employees wish to have children later in life and enabling them to do so. It’s not such a sinister move as is being portrayed. These companies are incredibly supportive of parenting and offer a whole arsenal of benefits to support women if they choose to have children, from bonuses to surrogacy subsidies. 

Many women working in tech are young. They don’t want to put their careers on hold to have children, but neither do they have the funds to stop their biological clocks. Allowing women to freeze their eggs makes this choice accessible, providing further flexibility about how they want to play out their careers. View it as a radical perk or a chain to the office; ultimately it provides a choice – and one that women aren’t forced to take. 

Hayley Fisher
London SW1


Let’s have a new generation of hope

When I was growing up in the 1960s, the dominant mood was one of hope for the future. Around us were many events – including the Cuban missile crisis, the Vietnam war, challenges to the established order, and many diseases that had tragic outcomes for individuals – but hope was the sentiment that led to progress. Despite the many failures in the latter half of the 20th century, progress has been driven by people and politicians fuelled by this sentiment.

Contrast that period with our current situation. Following the lead of the US, our politicians are attempting to exploit fear to generate votes; our 24-hour rolling news searches for disasters, tragedies and crimes to energise its output; and the tabloid press produces headlines to shock rather than inform.

Ebola, Isis, economic instability and the funding of the NHS are all matters that need solutions, and mankind’s resilience and innovation can find answers, but not if paralysed by fear.

I implore our political leaders in the future election campaign to give the people of this country a vision of hope. If they do not, fear will lead to despair, and my concern is for the effect on the young generation growing up in such an inward-looking, insecure society.

John Dillon
Northfield, Birmingham


False benefit of restricting migrants

Our Prime Minister has it in mind to restrict immigration from the EU of the unskilled and, no doubt, of the handicapped too. We are to attract only the skilled and gifted. “Johnny Foreigner” must be kept away as much as possible.

European countries would then take the exactly reciprocal course. They will want our finest and to return our unskilled.

The original idea of freeing up European labour markets was so that swings in labour need would be self-correcting, as, to a large extent, they are.

Kenneth J Moss


David Cameron is hinting at applying a brake on immigration from mainland Europe. If he and George Osborne were to reverse their policy of playing up our economic recovery, then the UK would appear less attractive to foreign nationals. But of course this might lower further their chances of a Tory majority next May.

Peter Erridge
East Grinstead, West Sussex


On a day that saw more damaging rhetoric from David Cameron on Europe, giving it “one last go” at negotiations, you reported on the ongoing resistance of the bankers, backed by George Osborne, to new European rules on bonuses.

Where are the politicians brave enough to insist that it is the greedy banks and global corporations that should be in the last chance saloon, and that political unions – both the UK and the EU – offer the best defence for their citizens against the negative side of globalisation?

Andrew Gardner
London NW3


Islam and the treatment of women

No. Mr Beswick, Islam does not “forbid rape” (letter, 16 October). The Koran, chapter 4, verse 24 lists the categories of women that are forbidden to Muslim men, among them “married women, except those whom you own as slaves”.

The Koranic commentator Sayyid Maududi interprets this as meaning that it is lawful for Muslim “holy warriors” to marry women prisoners of war even when their husbands are still alive. Maududi didn’t live in some brutish century of the past. He died in 1979.

This is the justification that Isis is using for its barbarous treatment of enslaved Yazidi women and girls.

David Crawford
Bromley, Kent