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Sacrificing Alfie for British National Pride

04-25-2018
ANALYSIS
 
The British battle over the life of little Alfie Evans is shocking the world. Many Americans simply can't understand why this is happening – AGAIN. Having covered the Charlie Gard story as an American reporter in London last year, I saw firsthand that Britain's National Health Service (NHS) is a patriotic issue for Brits.
 
It is also an issue that foreigners, especially Americans, better not touch. 
 
In the park next to Great Ormand Street Hospital where Charlie Gard lay dying, I spoke with an American Christian leader who had come to London to help Charlie's parents.  The person privately expressed their surprise at the kinds of questions they were getting from British reporters. It had never dawned on them that taking Charlie out of the UK and to another country for better medical care would be seen by British journalists as basically an affront to British honor.
 
The British press wanted an American to answer on the record whether sending Charlie abroad for medical care was because NHS care was not good enough.
CBN News reporter Dale Hurd with Charlie Gard's father, Chris, in London in 2017.
 
That pride has been demonstrated on the global stage. Perhaps you remember watching the lavish opening to the 2012 London Olympics showing the history of Britain and remember laughing at the sight of nurses dancing as they pushed patients around in hospital beds, medical drips flying this way and that. And perhaps you remember wondering if it was the beginning of some kind of comedy gag.
 
Olympic ceremony organizers were very serious. To the British, the creation of the NHS is an important milestone in their history.
 
The NHS was formed in 1948 and today is one of the largest organizations in the world. With 1.7 million employees, it's large enough to be the fifth largest corporation in the world.
 
The hypocrisy in the way the British treat the NHS is worth noting but really isn't surprising.  Internally, the Brits rip it up one side and down the other for its shortcomings, which are many. It is, after all, socialized medicine, and it works in some ways and not in others.  But criticizing the NHS is off-limits to foreigners and even to British Prime Ministers.
 
When President Trump took a shot at the NHS earlier this year, saying it was "going broke and not working," which is a factually defensible statement, British news personality Piers Morgan shouted back across the pond, "Wrong, Mr. President. Our NHS is a wonderful, albeit imperfect, health system - and the envy of the world. By comparison, the US healthcare system is a sick joke & the envy of no one."
 
Stand up in most public spaces in Britain and repeat Piers Morgan's words to a crowd that the "NHS is wonderful" and you'll get a mixture of puzzled looks and laughter.  The NHS is not wonderful.  It's more like a nightmare for people who have to wait months or years for many kinds of medical treatment.
 
But in the name of "patriotism," this "wonderful" health system is poised to allow another innocent child to die. 
 
The British establishment has shown that it is willing to sacrifice Alfie Evans on the altar of the NHS.
 

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