John Mann

John Mann MP (w110610-3c)
John Mann MP (w110610-3c)

Some politicians, in Westminster and in the town halls, like to think that they are the most knowledgeable about everything, and in many cases they are wrong.

They are certainly wrong when it comes to health. If I have a health problem, I would want to go and see a doctor at their surgery, not an MP or a councillor.

Recently the decision has been made to privatise treatment of drug and alcohol addictions. One local councillor has explained that this is so that treatment can be provided “on the streets” as opposed to in doctors’ surgeries. Therein lies the problem.

Alcoholics on the streets are not the ones receiving NHS treatment, they are the ones refusing treatment. So we will have a private organisation, called Crime Reduction Initiatives, going round the streets seeking out these street alcoholics. Meanwhile others in the community with alcohol problems will no longer be able to see their doctor for help. Decent, law abiding people who have nothing whatsoever to do with crime or crime reduction.

I have found that a good percentage of these law-abiding people are ex-army. Let me tell you about one. His name was James Mann, a lifelong soldier, a sergeant and in his later years a bit too fond of his whisky. There was no GP treatment available in Scotland and he ended up incapable of living in his council flat in Edinburgh and had to move into a hostel for old soldiers. He was my grandfather and I visited him there, seeing him in his bunk bed alongside lots of other old soldiers who could not manage anymore on their own. Does anyone seriously think that James Mann, proud lifelong soldier, would seek help from a ‘crime reduction organisation’ that is chasing drug addicts around the streets?

Of course he wouldn’t and neither will hundreds of other decent, law abiding people in our community who get brilliant help, discretely, in their own doctor’s surgery.

We have come to a crossroads with the NHS. More parts of it are planned for privatisation – first help to quit smoking, and then we will see more and then more. Privatisation is cutting the quality of the NHS.

Our NHS should be run by those professionals working in it and it should be accountable to the local community. MPs and councillors need to keep their sticky mitts off our NHS and stop handing it over to fancily named money making amateurs. Aneurin Bevin said the NHS will survive as long as there are people prepared to fight for it. Now is the time to stand up and be counted.