At Your Service #6
The NHS belongs to the people. It is there to improve our health and well being, supporting us to keep mentally and physically well, to get better when we are ill and, when we cannot fully recover, to stay as well as we can to the end of our lives. It works at the limits of science – bringing the highest levels of human knowledge and skill to save lives and improve health. It touches our lives at times of basic human need, when care and compassion are what matter most. (mission statement taken from the NHS constitution July 2015)
In the latest revised version of the NHS constitution (July 2015) the words 'You Have The Right' appear 35 times.
In this fabulous little video : ECHR - European Convention on Human Rights (English Version) that starts with the words The Convention Belongs to You, the words 'You Have The Right' are spelled out 12 times and although clearly explained, it still leaves plenty of room for re-interpretation.
'Belonging' and 'having rights' go hand in hand or so it seems. Both the NHS and ECHR are noble in their attempt to include 'us all' and yet we know that this isn't true. It is not all of us, it is some of us, it is those of us who belong and belonging is not a feeling. That so called 'sense' of belonging gives you a false sense of security. The European Union hasn't adopted the ECHR in any of its Treaties but in the latest one, the Treaty of Lisbon , it does say that all EU countries should ‘accede’ to this. The word accede can be open to interpretation, as well as to agree and consent it can mean to concur with and defer to. Such vague and diplomatic language seems very English in a way, and seems to full short of a binding commitment.
Before the referendum I never questioned that sense of belonging. It seemed to me to relate to a feeling of connection and acceptance rather than being intimately bound up with having rights. I felt at home here in the UK. Most of my friends, my closest family member and the person I have chosen to be with are all here. Despite my not having been born here, I had a sense of belonging.
Recently, European nationals residing in the UK have been told that none of our rights will be affected although we might need to apply for permanent residence. The whole Brexit thing has made a really good job of making some of us feel we don’t belong here. By agreeing to get permanent residency people will receive the right to belong.
To belong or not to belong. Before the referendum there was a lot of talk of regaining ‘control’, but nothing about rights. There was a lot of talk about protecting ‘our’ NHS and funding it better (£350m per day remember?!). There was little mention all the people who work for the NHS and are not British and how they care, carry out their duties and deliver the service. The least we can do is give them the right to belong?