Private health insurance junk mail, it could have been from any of the providers. But this one from Aviva happened to catch my eye this weekend. Just as the fate of the National Health Service (NHS) hangs in the balance, a siren call goes out - as I suppose it does regularly - from those in the business of exploiting our understandable preoccupations with our health and wellbeing.
It prompted me to ask on Twitter,
Time for #Labour campaigning responses to Private Health Insurance 'junk mail'?
I don't want or expect any retweets (RT). But I hope that our policymakers and NHS providers will wake up to the extent to which the electorate is bombarded with messages such as those in this corrosive item of junk mail. Just look at the headings:
You deserve private medical treatment.
Did you know it's available at the BMI The Harbour Hospital?
No, ifs. You deserve it, and it's available locally.
That's good news, isn't it?
In just a few words, we'd like to show you how you can benefit from fast treatment, excellent care and comfortable surroundings.
Well I have no wish to find myself questioning the good name of either the insurer or the provider. But the words used to reinforce that last message above could IMHO have been used to describe the local NHS hospital service if the reforms under the last Labour government had been continued.
The invitation goes on:
Even greater cover, that fits you - and your pocket
What was it that recent international study said about the National Health Service?
Then the coup de grace:
We've enhanced our extensive cancer cover
I don't know about you. But I had a health scare in my nether regions just before Christmas. I was seen by my GP the same day, refered for a scan, given an appointment at Barts' the next day and, I'm happy to say, given the all clear on the spot after a thorough examination.
But the message to the electorate from the private health insurers is completely different. It questions the speed, competences and 'hotel' provisions of NHS hospitals and their staff. In government, Labour, to the best of my knowledge, was aware of the impact of this type of advertising on public perceptions, but failed to develop a comprehensive approach to reducing, if not eliminating the need for private sector provision. As part of our Save the NHS strategy, I'd like to see our campaigning including challenges to these insidious appeals to our fears about our wellbeing. Whenever I have a chance I talk up my experiences of the NHS, which are generally genuinely good. If they are not, I know who to complain to, and it is never the person sitting next to me on the bus or in the pub.
The private sector can never compete successfully with a genuinely National Health Service. That is why the current Tory government is trying to break it up.
As they say on Twitter :