While listening to the radio today I heard someone suggest in a very sensible voice that while NHS health care should remain free that perhaps a charge could be made for board and lodging for someone who has to stay in hospital? They said that perhaps a charge of £75 per night would be sensible and affordable. I didn't really hear the rest of the report as my emotions caught up with me so forgive me for not knowing who they were or why they thought that.
You see I was listening to the radio while in the car, while driving away from the hospital having just seen my husband readmitted. Of the last 40 nights he's spent 20 in hospital. Not through choice, through a very serious infection resulting from gallstones. I consider our family to be reasonably well off, my husband has a good job and I make small sporadic amounts from free-lance work (anyone want to buy an article?) But could we have quickly found the £1500 that this illness would have cost us if this charge was to be levied? No. In fact it would probably have questioned whether to readmit him this afternoon really was a good idea. Quite quickly I would have found myself having to choose between my husbands health care and food or heating for my children, and we are not alone. According to another report I heard on the radio sometime back more than 50% of working families are less than 3 missing paychecks away from homelessness and poverty. But I live in a village where more than 25% of the children are living below the poverty line. Every day their parents have to choose between 'eating and heating' and that's not to mention the pensioners. A 'bed and board' charge would certainly bar them from health care they might desperately need.
Food and rest are not 'bed and board' they are nutrition and restoration, they are essential aspects of care and if we forget that then we have lost our compassion and humanity.