The NHS is 75 this 5th July.

Sue Nethercott
4 min readJul 4


That’s older than me!

The New National Health Service Leaflet, 1948
The New National Health Service Leaflet, 1948

It was there for me when I was born, and for all my childhood illnesses, which included pneumonia twice. All for free.

I’m grateful health care does not lead to bankruptcy in the UK.

I didn’t need the NHS much from when I left school until I reached retirement age, though it was good to know it was there. Except for dental treatment. I needed several crowns. Unlike medical treatment, most people have to pay for dental treatment in the UK. At current prices, crowns cost £306.80 (less than $400). In the USA, they cost between $1000 and $3,500.

The NHS cared for my mother, father, grandmother and various aunts and uncles when they all had cancer, and my sister when she had MND (ALS). At no cost to them, so they did not have to sell their homes. In the USA, medical bankruptcy is common, and medical bills cause great hardship to many. I’m glad we do not have to worry about that.

Back in 2018, I was diagnosed with a 4 inch by 6 inch (10 x 15cm) cancerous tumour. It took a total pelvic exenteration to save my life, including a few days in ICU and a total of 2 weeks in hospital. The cost to me? Zero (well, apart from travel to and from the hospital). The actual global cost would have been over $55,000 (around £43,500). In the UK a private pelvic exenteration operation alone would cost at least £17,000. (I didn’t find an example of actual charges in the U.S.). The NHS saved my life for free. American insurers fleece you so much that you wish they hadn’t saved you, sometimes.

Privatisation is already bad for the NHS.

However, the Tory government is working hard to privatise the NHS, to make it more like the American system. This has led to poorer healthcare and more deaths.

This was particularly evident in my sister’s final illness, when she needed care from a variety of professionals, several of whom worked for different private firms. The actual workers were wonderful, but the overhead of co-ordinating them all added considerably to the stress and to delays, and I dare say to the cost to the NHS as well.

In 2014, the NHS was ranked the best healthcare system in the world. By 2021 it was down to 4th. The American system, which Tories are so keen to emulate, came 11th out of 11. A Civitas study ranked the UK even lower.

Evidence that it is the American system that the Tories want for Britain.

Rishi Sunak met private US social care firms to discuss ‘opportunities’ in the UK

American firm Palantir has received a no-bid COVID contract and an NHS data deal.

American health care firms are donating to Tories and getting NHS contracts, for example HCA

The Tories aren’t the only ones. UnitedHealth’s influence began under New Labour’s Tony Blair.

Why more privatisation would be bad for the NHS.

The United States spends almost twice as much on health care as other developed nations, yet around 8.3 percent of people have no health insurance at all. They can go to the A&E for emergencies, but often leave it too late because they have been afraid of the cost.

America does have a Medicare insurance program for seniors, but health insurers trick them into getting their so-called “Medicare Advantage” private insurance instead, which they can offer at a cheaper rate by saving money by denying care or making the patient go through so many hoops that they give up. And it is difficult to get back onto real Medicare once patients realise. They also defraud Medicare, getting more money from Medicare than they are entitled to by saying that patients need more care than they actually do. Health insurers bilked America’s Medicare out of billions, and the same people or their counterparts would operate similar scams here.

UK Private hospitals don’t currently do all that the NHS does. No A&E, for example. They cherry-pick what they do. Most medical staff are NHS-trained.

UK Private hospitals did far less than they were paid for during COVID.

Why the NHS needs some TLC now.

The NHS has suffered a good deal under Tories, being massively underfunded. Money that should have gone to the NHS went instead to private contractors, and in the case of COVID supplies such as PPE, that led to massive fraud and billions have been written off.

As well as shortages of doctors and nurses, many of whom have left because of Tory policies such as giving them less than real term wage increases, the NHS has a shortage of managers.

Polls show a great deal of support for the NHS, despite the strikes, but immense frustration at long waits for ambulances or treatment


Tories and Labour are favouring an American style model of health insurance, whereas the public, sensibly, wants a fully-funded NHS. The deliberate neglect by the Tories has caused a good deal of harm to the NHS, but they have no intention of reversing their policies.

The British people who have paid into the NHS over the past 75 years, investing in it, deserve better than that. Their investment should not be sold off so that the rich can be given tax cuts. So much of Britain has been sold off already, to the detriment of Britain’s future.

Happy birthday, NHS. Here’s hoping for a return to common sense and that you have many more happy returns.



Sue Nethercott

Open University BA, UMIST MSc, OU BSc Environmental Studies. Interests: environment, COVID19. Double #ostomate. Thom Hartmann’s newsletter editor. Views my own.