Last weekend marked the start of 2017’s NHS ‘Winter Crisis’ – an annual ritual in which the Labour Party claim the Tories have wantonly and irreversibly destroyed the Health Service. Proceedings began after Red Cross volunteers were drafted in to assist besieged Accident & Emergency staff, amid reports that three patients had been left unattended and died at Worcestershire hospital.
Now, I don’t for one second deny that the NHS is struggling. In fact, I’d be surprised if it wasn’t: It is an outdated, unsustainable, Marxist model of ‘healthcare’ that is not fit to cater for our growing and ageing population. It was inevitable that – sometime down the line – we would be forced to rely on charities for additional support.
Naturally, the Labour Party don’t agree: they always blame the Tories when the NHS goes awry, and they have always hated the idea that private charities work alongside public services. David Lammy called the latest example an “absolute scandal in one of the world’s wealthiest countries”; Jonathan Ashworth said it “should be a badge of shame for the Tories”; and Jeremy Corbyn was far from complimentary during his BBC interview on the subject.
Labour apply the exact same logic to decry the recent rise in food bank usage. Apparently, it is an appalling state of affairs that Britons are donating goods to assist their compatriots in their hour of need. If it were up to Labour, these folks would be still be dependent on the welfare state, and we’d be forced to raise taxes, borrow more money, or perhaps even do both.
I will never understand that mentality. Nor will I understand why, as a people, we feel better about ourselves if our sick and impoverished are relying on the government rather than charity. What difference does it make? Why is one more dignified than the other? Every society has those that need help, and surely we should be celebrating our sense of comradeship, not condemning it?
Long term, we have to to pull the plug on the NHS. Like the rest of the developed world, we must explore a more efficient, humane, market-based system of healthcare. But we require some quick fixes too, and if the third sector can provide frontline services for the time being, then all the better for it. Our only regret should be that we didn’t call on them sooner.
Charlie Richards is a political blogger
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty