We must revive Attlee’s legacy

Gerry Stonestreet might be right about the proposed reforms to the NHS (Herald letters, September 16).

There appear to be a substantial number of both advocates and dissenters. I find it difficult to make up my own mind.

The general belief in, and indeed gratitude for, the National Health Service could scarcely be in question. To this day it is regarded, and rightly so, a triumph of the Labour government of Clement Attlee.

When one considers the monumental degree of organisation that was required to get it off the ground, nationally and in every area locally, it was a feat of colossal proportions.

The technology for its accomplishment was no higher than a raft of Imperial typewriters, most of them probably battered given the paucity of equipment only three years after the end of an impoverishing world war.

Is it all of that, though, which causes us a measure of complacency? Sixty-three years after its inception, international evidence suggests something is wrong.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has a league table of national health systems around the globe. Top of that list is our neighbour across the sea. Where do we come? A developed country on a par with France must surely put us second, third or possibly fourth. Not so. The WHO places our national health service no higher than 18th in its league.

The mantra we have heard for decades is the NHS is ‘the envy of the world’. It would seem that the good citizens of at least 17 other countries would not agree.

Somewhere along the line, improvement is needed. If Clem Attlee were around today, would he not be the first to concur, and to do something about it?

Edward Thomas

Collington Close