My family were overwhelmed by the wonderful care and consideration shown by the carers and end-of life team in the final days of my 96 year old mother-in law last year; nothing was too much trouble, and everything was done in a way to ensure her final moments at home were peaceful, and her passing was, as Jule Myerson recently wrote, "as good as" we could "imagine a 21st century death to be".
Other readers will, no doubt, have had similar experience, but that is not the impression of the NHS which most of the press and media are keen to give. The truth is, as we have seen over many years, that Tory propaganda concentrates on constant fault-finding in the state-owned institutions like the NHS to justify their privatisation, with the so-called failings often the inevitable result of job and financial cuts made by the government itself! Individual examples of failure are highlighted to give misleading impressions of the institution generally; huge media coverage follows, with the BBC often at the helm, leading to hysterical and alarmist conclusions, empirical evidence ignored, inaccurate data quoted repeatedly, with, of course, the costs to the taxpayer exaggerated. Only recently, the leaders of ten NHS organisations called for a "more measured view of how the NHS performing, only for the next day`s news to be dominated by yet more criticism by the "former GP" and "senior conservative" Liam Fox, whose claims like "detriment to the patients" and "huge amounts of waste" seized the headlines. Remember Tory annoyance with the opening ceremony of the Olympics? The NHS is a main target for privatisation, with the process already started, and the overall aim being further reduction in the size and role of the state, and a mouth-watering pre-election promise of tax reductions to gullible voters.
The people`s love for, and reliance on, the NHS demands it be supported. Let`s hear that support now, and not just from Andy Burnham; the Labour party needs to shout it from the rooftops, before the Tory and Ukip propaganda machines spread even more bile in the build-up to the European elections. As Myerson says, our experiences of NHS care ought to be "known about, appreciated and even celebrated", and now is clearly the time to do it!