Coronavirus News Asia

NHS: An open sore on Britain’s stiff upper lip

Amid the Covid-19 crisis, the United Kingdom is swooning. The entire country, it seems, has fallen madly, deeply in love.

The subject of this tsunami of affection? The National Health Service.

Britons have poured onto streets or stood in windows and doorways in nationwide “clap for carers” shows of appreciation. Flags — and even graffiti supporting the NHS — are appearing. Queen (the rump rock band, not the aging monarch) is re-releasing one of its greatest hits, “We are the Champions” with a lyric change to “You are the Champions” , dedicated to the NHS.

And a 100-year-old war veteran, Tom Moore has raised GBP32 million by walking laps of his garden, aided by a walking frame, to thank the NHS for its “magnificent job”. Moore’s epic efforts have won saturation media coverage and plaudits from the Queen (the monarch) and the prime minister.

Not since the death 0f Princess Diana in 1997 have Brits loosened their upper lips to unleash such emotion.

Just some of the 125,000 birthday cards sent to 100-year-old war veteran and voluntary NHS fund-raiser, Tom Moore. Photo; AFP

The United Kingdom did not invent universal health care, but the NHS was the UK’s gift to itself after its Pyrrhic victory in World War II.  Financially ruined and with its empire fading into the sunset, Britain’s global status dwindled, but after 1948 no Briton, however dire his or her financial circumstances, would henceforth lack medical care.

In the years since, the NHS has won near-sacred status. It is the institution of which Britons are most proud, according to a 2018 study.

Today, the NHS frontline staff are risking their own lives to treat others affected by Covid-19. “Greater love hath no man than this…”

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