A personal plea to the undecideds

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By Sinclair Macleod
 
This is an unashamedly emotional post. On Tuesday 9th October 2007 our son, Calum, went to bed, tired but happy.  He awoke at around three o’clock on the Wednesday morning with a severe headache, and by half past six he was on a ventilator in Yorkhill Hospital diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.

Over the next day and a half the doctors and nurses worked tirelessly to save his life but on the Thursday afternoon we were told there was nothing they could do for him.

By Sinclair Macleod
 
This is an unashamedly emotional post. On Tuesday 9th October 2007 our son, Calum, went to bed, tired but happy.  He awoke at around three o’clock on the Wednesday morning with a severe headache, and by half past six he was on a ventilator in Yorkhill Hospital diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.

Over the next day and a half the doctors and nurses worked tirelessly to save his life but on the Thursday afternoon we were told there was nothing they could do for him.

My wife and I were then asked to think about his organs being used to help save others and after thinking long and hard, we decided that was what Calum would have wanted, and gave our permission.  He was kept alive for one more day while the arrangements for the transplants were made.  His organs saved the lives of people across the UK and gave us a little comfort in the darkest of days. (Gordon Brown’s lies about the transplant services are for me has been the low point of an abysmal No campaign.)

The loss of our bright, happy intelligent boy was truly the worst thing that has ever happened to us but it could have been even worse.  After the trauma of Calum’s death and the pain of organising his funeral we could have had a bill dropping through our door.

In the United States we would have had a bill that included the GP in the out of hours clinic, the services of the nurses and doctors in A&E; the tests which included three MRI scans; the services of the ICU staff who were constantly by his side, the neurologists and paediatricians whose expertise was called upon; the cost of the numerous drugs that were administered; the cost of his room in ICU and probably the room where family and friends gathered to support us.

If we had the same cruel healthcare system as the US, that bill would have amounted to tens of thousands of pounds.  Not only would we have lost our son, we would be either thousands of pounds in debt or maybe even have lost our home.

The NHS is the single greatest achievement of any government this country has ever had.  In a recent survey of healthcare systems the NHS ranked the best in the world.  It was rated the most efficient, the best value for money and the best for results.  All that has been achieved within the NHS is now at risk as the coalition has begun to privatise the service to allow American healthcare companies to profit from the sick people of England.

This is obviously an important issue in the referendum debate and the No side have protested that the NHS in Scotland is safe but are they telling the truth?  If we vote no, cuts to Scottish Government funding will have an impact on the service but the threat is far greater than purely funding.

Andy Burnham, the Shadow Health Secretary is telling the English electorate that the pace of the coalition’s changes is too fast (there is no pledge to reverse the changes) while indicating that he thinks separate health services might not be the best way to organise a service that has been separate since its inception.

The Tories hate the health service with a passion and they will do all that they can to destroy the principle of free at point of need.  A Tory victory in May’s election will be the final nail in the coffin of the NHS and as Mr Burnham has already planted the seed, the Tories will have no problem removing the Scottish Government’s control over the service.  Add to that the very real threat of the disgusting TTIP trade deal and you have the perfect storm of ‘greed before people’ about to crash down on the NHS in Scotland.

If you think this is scaremongering, just consider how many in the House of Commons and the House of Lords have shares in private healthcare firms and then ask yourself whose interests are they going to put first their own or ours?

The vast majority of the people of Scotland understand the great job the NHS does, as do the majority of people in England and Wales; the difference is we can do something to protect ours.  With a Yes vote we can write the NHS into the constitution, we can guarantee that the people of Scotland will have care, free at the point of need as long as they will it.

I don’t want to live in a country where families are devastated by sickness or death only to have further pain inflicted as they lose their home.  I don’t want to live in a country where a mother puts off taking her child to see a GP because she can’t afford it.  Meningitis is just one disease where quick diagnosis can save a life and the thought that someone may lose a child because some corporation wants greater profits is abhorrent to me and I’m sure to the majority of you.

I am reaching out to those who remain undecided.  Sickness is not something people should be punished for.  If you are looking for one reason to sway your decision between Yes and No, think of Calum.

I know which choice he would have made.

 
This article first appeared on the Wee Ginger Dug blog