SEVERAL years ago, I was taken ill in France. I was rushed into hospital as my family feared I would die. It was just another episode in a long illness that had radically changed my life.
Having been admitted to various hospitals in Britain, I was surprised by the lack of care I received. The nurses were professional but lacked any bedside manner. The man in the next cubicle faced the fury of one nurse when he soiled the bed.
When I was discharged, I was then presented with a large bill.
In Britain, we all take a free health service for granted. It is part of our culture, our heritage and admired around the world. Everyone is treated equally and no one is turned away.
It is not without its problems and mistakes are often made, but it is free and it belongs to you and me. Well... parts of it still do, but not for long.
There seems to be an compulsion amongst politicians to completely privatise the NHS. To have it run for profit by various private organisations sharing a building once called a hospital.
Food, cleaning and medical services would all be farmed out and like any private company, the rules of the free market economy would be in place.
This obsession appears to be driven by the desire of government to offload as many organisations as possible from public ownership.
It is a policy that is bound to fail as you cannot and should not be allowed to make money out of the treatment of sick people.
In some countries the dilemma is faced that it is often cheaper to let someone die than to treat their condition. That could soon be happening here if politicians get their own way. The rich will live and the poor will end up in the morgue quicker than expected. Assisted deaths will become a matter of profit rather than a quality of life.
Treatment would not be a matter of right but a matter of the financial ability for each one of us to pay for it.
This type of politics hits at the very heart of what it is to be British.
The NHS is seen as an integral part of our community and no political party should be allowed to take that from us.
We in Britain have a desire to be cared for by the state and to have a safety net should all fail. There is nothing wrong with that. It is the dream we have been sold since the end of the last war.
Politicians need to understand that by selling off the NHS they are undermining the communal confidence of the country.
Even the Labour Party seem to have abandoned the principles on which they were founded and sound like closet Tories when it comes to care of the sick and elderly.
I have grown up with the knowledge that I had the right to free medical care and free education. I felt that the government of the day actually cared about me.
It wasn’t a love of a nanny state but I felt supported and looked after.
In later life my parents got the pensions they had worked for all their lives and had a health service that supported them until their deaths. The dream I once had is being slowly dismantled.
When will politicians realise that you cannot trust private companies to run former public corporations?
Surely, hasn’t the fiasco of de-nationalisation shown us that once a private company is involved then the only thing that matters isn’t the care of the individual but the pursuit of profit?
We now have power companies that charge the earth even though oil prices plummet and railway companies that charge hyper fares. Some even advocate that we do not even have the right to water.
The next Government has to understand that there is nothing wrong with having something owned by the state.
It is ludicrous that the Government should bail out the banks, get them back into profit and then sell them off. Why can’t they be kept in state ownership with the profits going to pay off the deficit?
East Coast trains have been a great success with government involvement, so why sell off the franchise?
Surely now is the time for the next government to set up UK plc? I would certainly vote for a party that offered to have a nationalised bank, railway, power company and postal service.
I would be happy that the profits from these companies would go to the state rather than into the hands of the same fat cats whose names crop up on The Sunday Times rich list year after year.
The NHS has to be protected from being sold off. It is the most precious facility we have.
Nurses and doctors cannot be thrown into the hands of practitioners of the free market economy. More importantly, the lives of ordinary people cannot be manipulated to balance the books of immoral private enterprise.
GP Taylor is a writer, and broadcaster, a former police office and vicar and can be followed on twitter @gptaylorauthor