Friday, August 14, 2009

Cameron and Hawking defend the NHS

David Cameron and Professor Stephen Hawking are among those who have defended the NHS from ludicrous and inaccurate criticisms made in America. David Cameron sent an email to supporters saying that he and his family had been grateful for the work of the NHS.

The most absurd of the attacks made by US critics of the NHS was the claim in an American newspaper that 'People such as Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the UK, where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.'

Professor Hawking himself, while in Washington to receive America's highest civilian honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, hit back at these attacks on the British health service, saying 'I wouldn't be here today if it were not for the NHS. I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment, without which I would not have survived.'

A British woman, Kate Spall, who was quoted in adverts for an American group calling themselves 'Conservatives for Patients' Rights (CPR) opposing the President's health legislation, said that she had been misrepresented and felt duped by these adverts.

She told the Times: "It has been a bit of a nightmare. It was a real test of my naivety. I am a very trusting person and for me it has been a big lesson. I feel I was duped."

No organisation should be above constructive criticism, but some of the attacks on the NHS in the USA have been disgraceful and inaccurate.

I mostly reserve party political comment for my main blog rather than this one, but I will make an exception by quoting David Cameron's email here to confirm that the Conservative Party is totally committed to the NHS: an effective National Health Service which is free at the point of delivery is one of the things we wish to conserve.

David Cameron writes:

"I've been enjoying the sun and touring my beautiful constituency of Witney today. But it goes without saying that just because I and most other politicians are not in Westminster at the moment, politics isn't somehow put on hold.

People still care about the issues they care about, and thanks to the internet they can voice their concerns whenever they want. Just look at all the support which the NHS has received on Twitter over the last couple of days. It is a reminder - if one were needed - of how proud we in Britain are of the NHS.

Millions of people are grateful for the care they have received from the NHS - including my own family. One of the wonderful things about living in this country is that the moment you're injured or fall ill - no matter who you are, where you are from, or how much money you've got - you know that the NHS will look after you.

That's why we as a Party are so committed not just to the principles behind the NHS, but to doing all we can to improve the way it works in practice. So yes, we will spend more on the NHS, but we will also improve it so that it is more efficient and responsive to patients. People working on the frontline will actually be able get on with the job they signed up for, without getting tied up in a web of targets. And we will put more power in the hands of patients by giving them better information about the care they can expect to receive.

Underlying these reforms, and our whole approach to the NHS, will be one big ambition - that future generations will be even prouder of the NHS than we are today."