By Lucette Davies

The biggest drawback to those of us fighting for our NHS is the general lack of understanding in our population. Our political parties are all guilty of misleading us if they feel it would help them win an election. And, many of our newspapers distort the truth in order to maintain the status quo.

But people are losing faith in their NHS. So many of us are simply struggling to get by each day and put food on the table. Care is often nowhere near the standard we once got from the NHS. Some of us are on NHS waiting lists, or expected to pay for services we once received for free.

But if we give up now we have so much to lose. Our healthcare services are being constantly rearranged and the entire system now looks very similar to the US system. If we don’t act and our Government introduces an insurance based system, we only have to look across the Atlantic to see what that would mean.

· America spent $3.8 trillion nationally on health expenditure in 2019

· American people spend on average $5,000 a year on out of pocket health care costs

· The average cost for hospitalized Covid-19 patients is $73,300

· 60% of US adults have had medical debt at some point in their lives

· 70% of Americans with medical bills have had to cut their food expenses to avoid bankruptcy. And mostly these are the people who thought they were fully covered by health insurance until they tried to claim.

· Two-thirds of all personal bankruptcies are due to medical bills

· 20% of medical bankruptcy filers are in the 55+ age group

· 39% of Americans are more worried about medical bills than Covid-19

· Tens of thousands of US citizens die from prescription opioid overdoses each year. But Harvard University found opioid manufacturers are paying physicians huge sums of money to prescribe their drugs. At least in the NHS our doctors are paid a salary and have no financial incentive to offer any one particular treatment

We also need to think about what was happening in the UK before we had a NHS. Even our own Government was unable to estimate just how much sickness there was in the country. But when the NHS was started people started queueing down the streets to get treatment for ailments they may have lived with for years. Even though they had health insurance from their workplace.

By setting up the NHS our Government increased the health of the population which in turn made our country more productive and was instrumental in rebuilding Britain after the war. They now estimate that for every £1 spent on increasing the health of our population there is a £2-4 increase in the economy.

To summarise, we cannot afford to lose our NHS, but we are dangerously close to doing so. We also can’t rely on the political parties to save the day. It is down to us and we need to understand what is happening first.

If you want to know more, please come along to the Gather in the Beacon shopping centre on 22 August between 11am to 2pm. We will be there with displays about what is happening to our NHS and flyers you can take home. The Gather space is opposite Holland and Barrett.