Why does the right hate the NHS?
I think this is a valid question; over at Liberal Conspiracy I posted an edited version of my earlier post on here regarding Nurses for Reform. A barrage of comments ensued arguing in favour of market-led reform. Meanwhile, Conservative Home carries a piece arguing that the ‘NHS must change’. It’s telling that leading these calls for change we often have prominent business figures; healthcare being a lucrative business and, of course, if the NHS was broken-up it would provide many a profit-making opportunity.
A clue to the answer to the question I posed is found in the first paragraph of the Conservative Home piece;
No wonder we Brits have so much affection for the NHS: whether you are rich or poor, if you have something wrong with you, you can get it checked out and get world-class treatment. Because we all share the payment for healthcare through taxes, we don’t have to worry about being able to afford it.
However, the author continues;
The problem is that if we are not careful, we might end up paying for that loyalty ten or twenty years down the line.
The praise heaped on the NHS initially is thus cast as blind, unthinking loyalty; the kind one might have to a treasured comfort blanket. The author is thus damming the NHS with faint and false praise. In other words it is the fundamental underpinning principle that is hated; the principle that the NHS will be there in times of need. It goes against everything the right hates about the left, as it is seen it rewards bad behaviour and indolence and apathy because that is what poor people are. Because we live in a ‘perfected’ meritocracy; if people haven’t made it or have less money than others then essentially that is their fault.
Why then should a rich man who has worked hard for his wealth subsidise this is the implicit question. Of course, it would be largely untenable to say this explicitly so it gets sugar-coated and the interests of the rich are presented as societies best interests;
We should see the rich taking private insurance as a socially useful saving of public resources.
Don’t mention the differential standard of care improving life chances or the fact that ‘innovations’ that take place will first be available to the rich because that would spoil the point. Authors like this also try to co-opt Nye Bevan to their cause however as was pointed out in reply;
Bevan did not see the NHS as a safety net he saw it as an ideal that healthcare should be free at the point of need.
This is something that the right in its unfettered market-worship hates and shows how unsafe the NHS is in its hands.