This is what it looks like when a country labors for years under the weight of nationalized healthcare, realizes that it’s financially unsustainable, and then tries to implement meaningful reforms.
Many of those on the receiving end of “free” healthcare won’t like it. Not one bit. Just ask Britain’s Health Secretary Andrew Lansley who, in the words of the Daily Mail, was “ambushed by a Left-wing activist” early Monday morning.
Protesters “jostled” Lansley as he arrived for the 10 Downing Street meeting. One particularly outspoken protester, June Hautot, 75, accused Lansley of trying to privatize the state-funded National Health Service.
“I’m not getting out of the way!” an agitated Hautot yelled at Lansley. “The waiting lists are going to go up, so you can wait!”
“I promise you, waiting times in the NHS are coming down,” Lansley tried to reassure her, “it will not go private. The NHS is not for sale, there will be no privatisation.”
Oh, wait. Surprise, surprise! Hautot is an ex-Unison trade union representative.
After trying to speak a few words to the ex-union “firebrand,” Lansley’s entrance was momentarily blocked as he was booed and called a “traitor.”
See the ITN News brief:
Why are these protesters and ex-union reps so hostile towards Lansley?
To answer that question, it’s important to understand that there are two very different groups involved in this story.
The first group believes that, in regards to nationalized healthcare, there is no such thing as “free.” In the long run, someone must pay for it. Therefore, this group has proposed reforms that would remove bureaucracy, give doctors more control, and trim spending by 80 billion pounds ($127 billion) by 2015.
And then there is the second group. This group believes top-down, government controls, such as the ones necessary for nationalized healthcare, are economically feasible, and that we can only know one thing about “the long run” (we die). This group also claims that the NHS reforms will “give private companies a bigger share of heath care and undermine the system’s universality,” according to the Associated Press.
Which group do you think momentarily blocked Lansley from getting to his 10 Downing Street meeting?
The Associated Press contributed to this report.