Today, it was announced that Captain Tom Moore is to be knighted for his efforts in raising more than £33 million for walking in support of NHS charities.
We’re steering off the sustainability path with this blog, unless we think of the National Health Service as something that will have to pick up the pieces for the consequences of extreme weather caused by the climate emergency, for example excessive summer temperatures or pneumonia from excessively cold winters or the effects of flooding. Or perhaps if we are taking the sustainability principle as a hollistic whole and that it should focus its benefits on society’s more needy. The climate emergency is already making refugees of many, through making swathes of the planet uninhabitable.
So this will be short: it was a surprise to many that the money was not going directly to the NHS, but on closer reading destined for “NHS charities”. It was also a surprise to many that JustGiving, the platform on which he raised the funds, was due a substantial cut (as they are with any such fundraising). This is because people don’t read small print.
But mostly it was a surprise to many that the NHS itself was a charity (and could be the beneficiary of fundraising in this way).
That’s because it isn’t. It’s paid through via taxes. It’s just that our NHS is in particular focus at the moment, which is no bad thing. It was one of the few specific items to improve, in the Conservatives’ election manifesto last autumn, after decades of under-funding by, well, Conservative governments in particular.
None of those new hospitals that were promised have materialised yet, as the satirical news review show on Channel 4 on a Friday night, The Last Leg, has keenly pointed out via its own charts, regularly.
At the turn of the year, the BBC spelt out 11 charts detailing the problems faced by the NHS, including the proportion of the budget spent by successive Government on health services in England.
The amount raised by valiant Sir Tom, the nation’s new darling, is a fraction of the annual £134 billion current spent by Government on the NHS, even if – as the news bulletins suggest – he has inspired many others to do their own fundraisers as a result of walking around his garden many hundreds of times. What those who laud him and financially support Sir Tom’s cause now need to do is back every petition going that supports our NHS and hold the Government to account on its promises.
If everyone who Clapped for Carers or who had donated money to Sir Tom’s caused also wrote to their MP, this country might begin to get the funding for the NHS it needs and deserves.