Living Life to the Fullest community research partner, DMD Pathfinders, has recently been on ITV News saying a big thank you to the NHS for the treatment and care its members have received throughout their lives. Significantly, the gesture was to mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS – first launched by Labour Minister for Health, Aneurin Bevan, on 5 July 1948. You can watch the ITV News report here.
DMD Pathfinders is a user-led charity (reg. no. 1155884) that promotes choice and control and quality of life for teenagers and adults with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in the UK. It campaigns for improved standards of health and social care and provides advice, guidance and support to teenagers and adults with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy on issues such as independent living, housing, employment and welfare rights.
The NHS is under threat. Critically, the keys principles of the NHS are i) that it meet the needs of everyone; ii) that it be free at the point of delivery; and iii) that it be based on clinical need, not the ability to pay. Without doubt, the NHS is life-saving for many. In our project Living Life to the Fullest, young people with impairments categorised as ‘life-limiting’ and ‘life-threatening’ are telling us that access to good quality medical treatment, technologies and interventions are vital to, erm, living life to the fullest. Notably, the funding of and advancements to medical technologies has seen life expectancies for some forms of Muscular Dystrophy significantly increase over the last 20 years.
Currently, the NHS is critically underfunded by Theresa May’s Conservative Government; parts of it are also being readily privatised. Of course, this is not a new state-of-affairs: a (now) decade-long austerity ideology has imposed relentless budget cuts to the health service, which are now routinely putting people’s lives at risk and making NHS staff suffer greatly. As Patients4NHS (2018) argue, ‘we are now experiencing the biggest sustained fall in NHS spending in any period since 1951’. Inevitably, this is exacerbated by the many other material conditions of austerity: increasing poverty and vulnerability; an increasing need for services; the knock-on effects for the NHS of £4.6 billion cuts to local authority social care budgets (since 2011); and over £3 billion of funds clawed back by the Treasury (between 2010-2013 alone): a very Tory story – you can read more of Patients4NHS’s analysis here.