the perils of privatisation .

Let’s get started with a subject close to my heart: healthcare. In the context of this introductory anecdote: trans healthcare. Later on: alternative dimensions.

In the UK, we are pretty fortunate in that tax-funded healthcare is available to most. That we don’t need health insurance etc. Or at least, at the moment. As the NHS is used as a symbol of national pride, however, it may yet survive in some form. But the situation is still far from perfect.

Back to the anecdote, though. As a trans person in the UK, to access medical transition I have to take one of the following routes:

The first, and most ideal, would be to go through the NHS-funded Gender Identity Clinic (GIC), though few exist & I am still waiting for that first appointment, six-and-a-bit years after the initial referral. The second is accessing private healthcare and the third self-medicating online.

So, I opted for the second route, at least, temporarily. Private healthcare. Until the GIC finally got back to me, anyway. Which, given the gradual defunding of the NHS and COVID, will not be anytime soon.

I’m privileged enough to have a network of close friends who, when I was eighteen, helped me to raise money towards covering consultation fees to access hormone replacement therapy (HRT) privately, which for that stage, was around £1000 if we include train fares, etc. Compared with many, my medical transition was relatively early, maximising its effectiveness. Something that I am thankful and privileged about.

Though I tackled the initial financial hurdle with assistance, the £600-per-year for follow-ups and prescriptions was mine to face alone. With hourly fees for appointments anywhere up to £300/hour, a salary 35 times that of the UK minimum wage as of 2021, that is pretty tricky to afford for someone living off student loans. Especially when, at the end of last year, I found out that the appointment cost of my follow-ups had increased by 50%. Which is the main point of my anecdote, really. That for an appointment where your blood pressure and weight are taken, it’s so much money. No student discount, either!

That is one example within an insurmountable pile of others. In other countries across the globe, privatisation means that folk have to pay for something as small as an appointment with a GP, or cancer screening, or for access to HIV medication that could extend their life for years.

I amongst many argue that healthcare should be nationalised everywhere; something that anyone can access to improve their wellbeing. Even if it means a minority of rich folk have to pay more taxes each year. That someone living in social housing has just as much right as a millionaire to access life-saving treatments such as chemotherapy. If not more so. Little solace for someone who has spent their entire life being oppressed by a cruel, uncompromising system.

Not to mention that nationalisation of other industries; transport and the marketplace to name a few examples, have extensive benefits to the majority. Whether that is avoiding price hikes or ending corporate monopolising. Smoothing out the ever-widening financial inequalities between the elite and lumpenproletariat. Making a better society, even if radical measures are needed to achieve that.

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