By Lucette Davies

I wonder how many people now want to avoid using the NHS after Channel 4’s Dispatches programme this week? For those of you who missed it, the programme exposed some horrendous errors and examples of maltreatment in our NHS. It gave viewers no sense of how often care goes catastrophically wrong or why this is happening. This programme may have left some viewers with an exaggerated impression of how dangerous NHS care is. But one thing is certain, avoiding care is riskier.

Our NHS is an enormous institution and it is therefore inevitable that at times care will not be up to standard. But we also know that right now, many more people are experiencing poor or care from our NHS.

Channel 4 made several references to inadequate funding but no explanation as to why it is underfunded. They talked about staffing shortages but made no reference to the decade of pay restraint that NHS staff have been given. They also made no reference to the increasing levels of privatisation or the Government’s atrocious handling of Covid-19.

I have made a formal complaint to Ofcom about this Dispatches programme. Our Government wants us to lose our belief in the NHS. They want us to believe that the country cannot afford the NHS. I can’t help feeling that Channel 4 is now helping them manipulate public opinion to achieve this. I can only hope that I am not alone in making this complaint.

Our country can afford the NHS as a publicly owned and publicly provided healthcare system paid for by taxation. It would obviously help if the likes of Richard Branson actually paid his taxes instead of playing with his space toys. But even if all we did was get rid of the private sector healthcare corporations, like Virgin Healthcare, from the NHS things would get much better. Instead we are facing another top-down reorganisation which will give the likes of Richard Branson a seat at the table and a say in how local services are set up.

The private sector has become involved with healthcare because it provides enormous opportunities for profit making. If they start having a say in local service provision, then local NHS services will be rearranged to maximise their profits.

A publicly owned and provided healthcare system aims to maximise the amount of healthcare for the available funding. It is why, for so many years, our NHS was admired around the world and considered to be the greatest achievement of this country.

Media lies are responsible for so much harm in our society today. People are losing hope and feeling powerless to provoke change. Our despair is a gift-horse for the Government who do not want the population to understand what is happening or feel they will be heard if they speak up. But we do have one thing they can’t take away and that is our ability to talk. And we must do that.

We need to be having conversations, sharing our understanding and knowledge. Because this way we can, between us, increase all our understanding of the politics that dictates every aspect of our lives. This understanding will be vital if we are ever going to be able to see a better style of politics.