In this time of unprecedented uncertainty and crisis it is easy to get swept up into the atmosphere of solidarity and altruism, to feel like we are doing our part. Is it a mere act to make us feel better? Have we really to stopped to think exactly what our altruism is serving, whether it was really needed, and who asked for it in the first place?
Why has the burden fallen on us, as ordinary people, to “save lives, and protect the NHS”, this seems so paradoxical to me. This was not and is not OUR responsibility- how have the government got away with this shift of blame?
We must not forget that the NHS is in fact a public service. Of course, we recognise the people of the NHS as heroic workers, giving up their own time to help the lives of others, this is altruism, there is no denying that, and in this time of burden and stress for them, it is an amazing act that we do congratulate them. But the NHS is meant to be, and is run on public funds that we already pay; a universal service that is there to protect our lives at any point, be it crisis or not.
It has taken a global pandemic to shed light on the amazing work of the people of the NHS, why has this not been done before? Because if attention is drawn to the long hours and poor pay that the NHS workers receive for the amazing job they do, there would be huge pressure on the government to better their working standards and pay.
Ironically, now, despite huge attention being drawn towards the workers, the government is not being pressurised to add extra funds, and this seems absurd. For some reason, the “burden” has fallen on to the people of the United Kingdom, to fundraise… for a public service…, a complete paradox. It seems almost cunning that the government have almost “got away with” this huge underspending and state that they left the NHS in. Ordinary people are overwhelmed with the amazing acts of the workers that they want to help, (an image that the government actually exploits in their press briefings and advertisements), that it is easy to forget who is to blame.
For example, the amazing work of Captain John Moore, the run for heroes campaign, and clap for NHS workers, are plastered across every media outlet. Everyone has done an amazing job and this of course cannot be denied, but the efforts should have been redirected, and this altruism is misused by the government to engage other people and increase philanthropy, turning away people from the fact that fundraising for the NHS is NOT necessary.
Interestingly, I do not remember a clear point where anyone from the government or the NHS has actually asked the public to donate as much as they can to the NHS. This is the most ingenious part for me since it is so subtle, but the government has managed to turn away from their fault, and in the process gain more money; they must be rubbing their hands together behind the scenes. We must question how this discourse has arisen so subtly but so widespread, that it is easy to forget that the NHS is the government’s responsibility.
Now, is there any evidence to see where this money has actually gone? There does not seem to be much, and with the lack of concrete evidence of the “success” of charitable spending being demonstrated in the media, there is no reason for us to stop, as it seems the problem is never-ending.
The NHS trusts have, for many years, have had charities attached to them. But rather than money going to the charities, due to the lack of spending on the part of the government, this money has been funnelled into vital spending for essential services within the NHS, and this fundamentally does not seem right. There needs to be a clear division between what the charities are for, and what the state run NHS is for. The government cannot get away with this almost “underground” manipulation.
In fact, under law, charitable efforts for the NHS can NOT be used to spend on PPE. Although, the NHS is desperately short of this, and this imagery is exploited in their attracting fundraisers. PPE is a lifesaving tool and it should not be funded out of the generosity of ordinary people. It should have been properly planned and budgeted to accommodate any eventuality the NHS must face.
Of course, the NHS is a public run service, and we all use it and therefore should pay our fair share, perhaps for some people donating is just part of this. But it just does not seem right that our taxes aren’t being properly used on this, they are being redirected, and we are having to put in extra of our own money to reimburse what should have been spent in the first place.
I think everyone has some form of altruism in them, and we all want to do our part. Please think about what you are going to devote your energy to and whether this is the best route to help people in the best way, for those who do not have any other option. Donating of course is not going to do any harm, but maybe think about the places that really need that money, and where it will be best spent. We must remember, at the end of the day, that people are only suffering, because other people are prospering.