I’m sure it’s unintentional, and doubtless the parallel isn’t yet exact, but the NHS is rapidly approaching the moral – or rather moralising – standards set by Nazi medicine. Thus obese patients and smokers are routinely denied treatment, including surgery.
Now, considering that 26 per cent of all adults are classed as obese, and 18 per cent smoke, and assuming some overlap between the two groups, possibly a third of us aren’t seen as fit for the NHS’s tender mercies.
This reconfirms the immutable law: a government that does a lot for the people will always do a lot to them. Whenever the state oversteps the boundaries of its legitimate mandate, it becomes tyrannical, and the NHS is a prime example.
Whatever their declared purpose, all state Leviathans ultimately serve to extend state power. The NHS is no exception.
That nationalised medicine can be used for this purpose was demonstrated by the Nazis, whose fanatical anti-smoking campaign would be the envy of today’s NHS. Also, chemical additives and preservatives were roundly castigated by the Nazis, wholemeal bread was depicted as morally superior to breads made from blanched white flour, and preventive medicine was elevated to a religious status.
Like today’s bureaucrats, the Nazis promoted vegetarianism (practised by Hitler, Hess and many others) and attacked medical experiments on animals (unlike us, they had no shortage of enthusiastic human volunteers).
Of course, doctors in Nazi Germany were involved not only in preventive medicine but, most of them eagerly, in such less benign pastimes as enforced euthanasia. It’s comforting to observe how medicine in today’s Britain is inching in the same direction.
One can’t open the papers these days without reading a thinly veiled lament about the burden placed on the fragile shoulders of the NHS by an ageing population. And euthanasia is steadily moving towards the forefront of potential remedies.
Now, I realise that this may sound as a heresy to a modern ear, but the role of medicine isn’t to pass moral judgement and sort people out into ethical categories. It’s to treat those in need of treatment – even if the need is self-inflicted.
In any case, why reduce the number of disqualifying habits to smoking and overeating? A man breaking his leg playing football has only himself to blame. Ditto, a hypertensive who never exercises. Ditto, a heavy drinker suffering from liver disease. Ditto, an avid consumer of junk food who’s a health wreck. Ditto… well, the possibilities are endless.
How long before patients are ordered to submit their food and liquor bills before getting a quadruple bypass? This may sound ludicrous, but no more so than denying treatment to someone who lights up occasionally or prefers chips to sprouts.
We must remember that the NHS, Europe’s only fully nationalised health service, isn’t just about medicine. It’s about extending state power. And funding shortages are routinely cited as an excuse for implementing that inner imperative.
Using this justification, British hospitals everywhere cut the number of hospital beds and reduce their frontline medical staffs, while creating whole new layers of administrative jobs, all those directors of diversity, optimisers of facilitation and facilitators of optimisation.
Doctors, nurses and beds aren’t really needed for the NHS to perform its real function, while administrators are indispensable. This madness is accompanied by Goebbelsian propaganda so successful that most Britons worship the NHS in lieu of God.
The NHS, claim those poor brainwashed souls, is the envy of Europe. If so, one has to compliment those envious continentals for the courage with which they fight off the temptation to follow suit: all major European countries have mixed state-private healthcare.
Many Britons seem to think that before 1948, when the country was blessed with the arrival of nationalised medicine, people had been dying in the streets without any medical help on offer. This is nonsense.
More hospitals were built in the 1930s, hardly the most prosperous decade in British history, than in the 68 years of the NHS. Rather than being burdened with administrators outnumbering the medical staff, those hospitals were run by two people: head doctor and matron, with a bookkeeper clicking his abacus somewhere in the back room.
In those backward times, hospitals were spanking clean, and hospital-acquired infections, like those killing thousands in NHS hospitals every year, didn’t exist. A matron would run a finger over every surface, and woe betide any nurse responsible for a single speck of dust.
It wasn’t just secondary care either. Before progress arrived, patients didn’t have to wait three weeks for a GP appointment, as they do today. And they’d see the same GP every time, one familiar with their condition, rather than whomever they drew like a lottery ticket.
Moreover, doctors wouldn’t hector patients on their habits, nor – how reactionary can you get? – refuse treatment if said habits didn’t pass muster.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s not only a doctor’s right but indeed duty to give lifestyle advice when it’s needed. A patient, however, remains free to follow the advice or not.
If he chooses wrong, it’s a mistake. But refusing to treat him as a result is a crime – committed by a tyrannical state acting in loco parentis.