Letter – Healthcare & Partition

It is often said that to know how things work you need to live that experience. Over the last number of years, be it on my holidays in the occupied Six Counties or listening to friends and family, I have heard so many stories of a system that isn’t working for its people.

Local people in Newcastle, Co. Down, are constantly complaining of how when you ring the local health practice you can wait up to two hours before getting through. You then have to share your personal details with a receptionist, and from there it is decided whether you will get a consultation with your GP.

Unfortunately the doctors are otherwise occupied, as they act like mercenaries, working in private practice within our public health system. (This seems so familiar to us who live in the 26 Counties.)

During the long war in the North it was so easy for politicians, from whatever persuasion, to get their supporters onto the streets in their thousands to defend Unionist or Republican ideology with passion and vigour. It is almost impossible to get people onto the streets to protest about the privatisation of the National Health Service. These class issues are not being discussed, be it workers’ rights, the NHS, or elderly care. The mainstream media control the narrative, and most journalists, being middle class, are remote from the lives of the working class.

I know of one young man who is waiting for an operation on his arm. The symptoms were neglected for months, and the infection got worse. The bone needs to be removed, which involves another operation, taking bone from his leg. The surgeons and doctors are so tied up in their private work they cannot agree a time to operate. It has been postponed yet again, and this time he has been told there could be an amputation.

The NHS isn’t given enough resources. The bean-counters have taken over and are allowing the privatisation agenda into the mainstream, at the expense of providing public-service quality care. Health care should be based on people’s needs, on socialist principles. We should not be afraid to talk about socialism and medical care. We see all around us the public services that work so well for everyone. Just look at our public libraries, fire service, forestry, and public work programmes.

It cannot be allowed for the Six Counties health system to be a mirror image of the failed medical care system in the 26 Counties, whereby you are afraid to call your doctor or go to your local A&E department, as you cannot afford the expense of doing so, and you linger on, hoping the pain will go away.

What we really need is an all-Ireland health service, free to all, based on socialist principles.

Paul Doran