On Wednesday of this week, I awoke to the terribly sad news that Professor Stephen Hawking had passed away, a man who I’d found so incredibly inspiring for so many years.
His work was undoubtedly brilliant, and I’m happy to admit that even when he sought to cleverly package it up for the layman by way of his popular television programmes and books, it still presented my mind with a real intellectual workout.
It wasn’t really for his work though that for me he was a hero, it was more his sense of purpose which even the most serious debilitating disease couldn’t extinguish. It was even more remarkable, that despite suffering such severe physical disability, he was still able to arguably make the greatest contribution to science of his generation. As if that wasn’t all enough, he also became one of the leading campaigners for the NHS, and the NHS is something I hold very dear too.
Professor Stephen Hawking had very recently publicly clashed with the current Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt stating, “Hunt had cherry-picked research to justify his argument. For a scientist, cherry-picking evidence is unacceptable.”
He also stated, “The crisis in the health service has been created by politicians who want to privatise it – when public opinion, and the evidence, point in the opposite direction.”
“When politicians and private healthcare industry lobbyists claim that we cannot afford the NHS, this is the exact inversion of the truth. We cannot afford not to have the NHS.”
I like many, believe the NHS is this country’s greatest ever achievement, and clearly Professor Hawking thought so too. As time passes, people will seek to honour one of our country’s greatest sons, and I believe it’s perhaps in the NHS where we have the most appropriate opportunity to do this, by naming after him a Bill and tabling it to Parliament to introduce laws which would protect the NHS in perpetuity.
By the sheer number of people signing the NHS petition I recently organised (231,145 as of today on the 16th March 2018) and from what I see in the reaction across social media, I believe it tells us the public do still highly value the NHS, and also that the tide has turned against the narrative that further privatisation is positive for the NHS.
It’s now the time for MPs on all sides to push together for the introduction of a Hawking NHS Bill, protecting the NHS from further privatisation, funding it adequately, and returning the NHS to its founding principles, and in so doing ensuring it remains free at the point of use for future generations.
I’m entirely confident that any Government that introduced a Hawking NHS Bill to protect and renew the NHS, would receive an unprecedented level of support from the public, and personally I cannot think of a greater tribute from our country to Professor Stephen Hawking.