The 2019 UK Election Result Is Making Me Afraid for My Health Care
When it was announced we would be called to the polls in the United Kingdom once more, this time on December 12, I felt the usual irritation about an unplanned election being called. Still, I realized the importance of this election. It was certainly the most important election in my lifetime so far.
The next thing to cross my mind was that this election was four years to the day since my experience of sexual assault that left me with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There was the dread. Historically, this date has been one of trauma for me. Was it possible that four years after being assaulted, I would witness the electorate handing a majority of seats to a party that seemingly wants to destroy the service I rely on to help me manage my PTSD and other mental health conditions?
Suddenly, I was terrified for our National Health Service (NHS).
Along came December 12. I voted for the only party my conscience would allow me to vote for. I cautiously hoped for change. I was aware of the dangers of living in an echo chamber, so while I was hoping for change, I refused to rely on it.
When 10 p.m. rolled around, I hesitantly turned on the news. The polls had closed. Ballot boxes were being taken to count centers. The exit polls had been announced, and they weren’t looking good. The race was on.
As constituencies began to declare, I dared to feel a glimmer of hope. Maybe change stood a chance, after all?
It was 4 a.m. before my constituency was declared. I’d seen Northern Ireland’s largest party lose seats, and in other constituencies, their majority had shrunk considerably. Was it possible? Was our MP of 22 years about to be given his marching orders?
No. He wasn’t. And yet, my constituency had still shown its capability to change — his majority had shrunk to roughly 6,000 votes. At this point, I took myself to bed. This country I call home, that I’d believed was incapable of change, was indeed changing.
And then the notification came through. The notification that brought me crashing back to earth, and filled me with fear. The Conservatives had their majority. The NHS wasn’t safe.
While Northern Ireland had made great strides forward, England had receded several years. Suddenly, Northern Ireland looked progressive. I cried.
I’m currently on a two-year waiting list for dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) following a new diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD). A diagnosis I’d fought for six years to get, long enough that treatment was no longer readily available through our rapidly collapsing NHS.
Now, I have to brace myself for the possibility that I might get to the end of the two-year wait only to be told I can no longer get DBT on the NHS at all. I have to start planning for what I’ll do if we find ourselves with American-style healthcare. If insurers consider mental illness a preexisting condition, that renders people uninsurable.
A party who by no means has a good track record of caring for those with disabilities or living in poverty now holds a majority, and those of us who were already fighting to stay alive are preparing for battle. It could be five years or more before the country has the chance to rectify this.
We are scared.
Photo by Jernej Graj on Unsplash