OPINION: WHAT CLAUSE 17 MEANS FOR DYSPRAXIA & THE NHS
Considering the fact that the House Of Commons twitter account deleted their tweet relating to Clause 17, you may be wondering what it even is. In their own words, this is what it is:
“The New Clause intended to protect the NHS and publicly funded health and care services in other parts of the UK from any form of control from outside the UK.”
Sounds good right? Apparently not to our conservative majority government who stampeded to vote against Clause 17 leaving our NHS unprotected from the hands of ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave’.
I am sure that each and every person reading this article from the UK has benefited from the NHS in some way within their life or at the very least knows someone who has. As the UK’s biggest employer, there is a strong chance that if you do not work for them, you know someone who does. The outcomes of this vote opens the door for those outside the UK to buy off parts of our beloved institution. Essentially this means our NHS could become fully privatised taking universal healthcare off the table. All this comes after a recent election in which our current government promised categorically that the NHS was not for sale.
It seems this government is all mouth and no trousers when it comes to the NHS. Those who voted for the tories feel lied to, those that voted against feel betrayed. Of course, the possible consequences of the result from the House Of Commons is heartbreaking for many of us, and the impact will be felt across the nation. What I am here to discuss, is how it will impact dyspraxic people.
Currently due to a combination of a lack of awareness as well as the NHS being grossly underfunded, diagnosis for adult dyspraxics are not available on the NHS. Across the nation as little as two NHS trusts in the entire UK are thought to be offering that service. This is problematic as it means adults cannot access the support they need and also means that those who are still undiagnosed have had unequal educational opportunities and now unequal employment opportunities. Dyspraxia is a disability which can make certain aspects of life much more difficult at the best of times.
Because of all this, many dyspraxics have been pushing for the NHS to fund the diagnosis of dyspraxia in adults. They have written to MP’s, contacted national charities and more recently have had contact with the APPG for Dyspraxia to flag this issue. Before proceeding, I should clarify for those who do not know, that an APPG stands for ‘All Party Parliamentary Group’. These are groups of MPs from across all political parties that are formed to hold investigations and gather research and evidence to inform their debate – ultimately acting as a body that can make valuable and well-evidenced recommendations regarding specific issues to the government and governmental bodies.
Considering all the above, what appears to me to be a legitimate cause for concern is that fact one of the MPs who is actually a member of the APPG for Dyspraxia chose to vote against Article 17. In doing so they have helped create a situation where the NHS as we know it is at risk. Adding to the picture that this MP is also dyspraxic, I would hope that they are mindful of the issues surrounding the NHS and issues around accessing a diagnosis in adulthood. The right to vote either way is paramount to our democratic process and needs to be respected but the vote begs questions of this individual MP. Questions regarding the lack of NHS diagnosis for adults. Will this situation be addressed with a mind’s eye on a potential privatised NHS system or be approached with a desire to see the NHS remain the public, free-at-the-point-of-use institution we love and cherish so much.
If the answer is no, we have reason to be concerned. If the answer is yes, how will they ensure this is possible if the NHS itself is no longer protected? These are questions that need to be asked, and hopefully will be answered next time the APPG meets. For now though it seems our fight is bigger than simply dyspraxia.
Until we can ensure our NHS is protected, the reality is that we cannot ensure that diagnosis for dyspraxic adults will ever be funded by the NHS. Our fight now stretches beyond our community. The need to save our NHS is vital and as a community we must be a part of that effort if our needs are to ever be met. In the immediate future we must hold all MP’s who voted against Clause 17 accountable for this, especially those from our own community. I for one am eager to see how the APPG will respond to this news. For now, this is all I have to say. Please see the links below for more information.