The NHS

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You could spend a lot of time going round in circles over what's happening with the NHS - this post sets out exactly what's at stake without juggling statistics or dodging the realities.

Bridget was kind enough to leave these comments and they slam home the realities of destroying the NHS to help fill the pockets of Tory and Blairite politicians paid by private health care companies.

What these characters call for and are already quite a long way down the line in delivering is no money, no treatment . . . go right ahead and die. Before the NHS that often meant dying without painkillers. Here's what Bridget wrote:

"In doing family history research I learned a great deal about the life and working conditions of many of my ancestors, particularly those who emigrated to Scotland from Ireland, before and after the famine. During the nineteenth and into the early part of the 20th century, before the establishment of the welfare state, the only option for the poor or the sick was an application for relief to the parish. This could involve either outdoor or indoor relief. Indoor relief meant the poorhouse, or as it is more commonly known in England, Wales and Ireland, the workhouse. My great grandfather James Cassidy, a plasterer to trade, claimed poor relief only once, in 1887, two years before his death from exhaustion. The reason given for his application was bronchial catarah which left him wholly incapacitated and unable to work. There was no sick pay, if you didn't work, you didn't eat, so you claimed the parish and you hung your head in shame. 

The working classes of the nineteenth century, lived in cramped, insanitary conditions and worked long hours for very little pay. According to the 1861 census of Scotland at least 64% of families lived in one or two roomed houses with 1% living in accommodation with no windows. The "Butt n Ben" and "Single End" were for most working class families the normal living environment. In many of these little apartments furniture would be sparse or even non-existent. The rooms would often be riddled with vermin such as rats and cockroaches. Men, women and children huddled together at night on whatever bits of rags or straw they could find. In these conditions there was no such thing as privacy, no space to play, think, relax or just escape from the tensions of family life. There was no sewage or waste disposal, add to this a severe shortage of clean water and you have the perfect conditions in which diseases such as cholera and typhus flourished. Neither central nor local government would take responsibility for the provision of adequate housing.

Considering the poor housing and insanitary conditions coupled with no proper medical care it is little wonder that child mortality was extremely high. Dr. J. B. Russell, an eminent Glasgow Medical Health Officer in the 1850's, made this heartbreaking and harrowing observation. "Their little bodies are laid on a table or dresser so as to be somewhat out of the way of their brothers and sisters who play, sleep and eat in their ghastly company. From beginning to rapid ending the lives of these children are short. One in five of all who are born never see the end of their first year".

We have what we have now, because people fought and died to achieve it. Our better health, living and working conditions are a direct result of decades of struggle by ordinary working class people who wanted a fairer society. Nothing we have was given to us by the elites or the so called 1% and what we do have is being attacked and eroded by them. Their grand project is a return to nineteenth century economics, our grand project should be to thwart them at every turn!"

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