Stephen Hawking: Guardian of Public Health Care

Stephen Hawking, world renowned Theoretical Physicist and author of best-seller A Brief History of Time, is also a guardian of public health care. Stephen Hawking credits UK’s public health care system, the National Health Service (NHS) with saving his life:

“I have had a lot of experience of the NHS and the care I received has enabled me to live my life as I want and to contribute to major advances in our understanding of the universe” 

Now the NHS faces severe budget cuts and further privatization. Hawking is concerned that this will lead to a decrease in the quality of care and an increase in the cost of services:

“The more profit is extracted from the system, the more private monopolies grow and the more expensive healthcare becomes. The NHS must be preserved from commercial interests and protected from those who want to privatise it,” he said.

Canadians should pay close attention to what’s happening to the UK’s NHS. Their experiment in privatization has led to 5 billion pounds diverted from their public health care system to the private system (2003-2014), a rise in lawsuits by a multiple of 8,  and increased demand on public intensive care units after botched jobs at private clinics which do not offer emergency or intensive care.

While the UK government has argued that private clinics provide extra capacity and staff, the NHS has closed 23,000 beds in England and many NHS clinics staff have gone to the private sector, leaving the public system understaffed and facing chronic bed shortages.

Stephen Hawking argues that proponents of the private system and Jeremy Hunt, Britain’s Health Minister, are cherry-picking studies to back their pro-privatization policies but ignoring the mass of evidence that for-profit health care does not lead to more or better care.

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