Gentrification is the process that occurs when a geographical area goes from being predominantly lower class or impoverished to being an area dominated by upper middle class individuals, stores, and businesses. A common sign of gentrification is the introduction of Starbucks, Co-op’s and boutique cafes to an area. This is then followed by increased living costs and housing costs, which pushes the poor out and lets the rich in.
I recently had an experience with the NHS (National Health Service in the UK) that has made me question whether the UK is attempting a large scale gentrification process. I needed a prescription filled, which the pharmacy was unable to get renewed by my doctor. After a week of confusion, I spent an entire morning driving all over town, calling five different doctors in an attempt to find someone who would print me off a new prescription. I was refused by every single person, despite the fact that medication is something that I depend on to stay alive. Eventually, after crying in the middle of a crowded waiting room, I was given my medication.
Initially, I just attributed this clerical paperwork error to the under-funding that the NHS is currently experiencing. However, upon further thought, I realised that this under-funding to health services only effects one specific group of people, the lower class. It’s lower class individuals who go to the emergency room, and are being left untreated by the lack of staff. Frequently lower class individuals avoid going to the doctor due to work or other conflicts, so they end up in hospital because their illnesses have worsened to the point of an emergency. It is the poor who are stuck in overcrowded waiting rooms, and who are dying in the hallways of hospitals. The middle class and rich are able to either afford private health care, or live a higher quality of life that prevents illness or allows it to be immediately treated.
So, the government is under-funding the NHS, and it mainly effects the lower class of the UK. This doesn’t equate to a removal of these people, does it? No, but then I read that the government is also making huge changed to their car MOT process (this is when a car is tested to be road safe and environmentally legal). The changes will mean that diesel vehicles and older cars are almost guaranteed to fail their MOT’s (and they can no longer be driven). Who drives old cars? The lower class citizens who can’t afford to constantly upgrade or get new leases. When their cars fail, they won’t be able to work, or function.
If you combine the new MOT regulations and the under-funding in health care with the ramifications of Brexit, all signs point to the fact that the UK government is attempted to gentrify the entire nation. They are removing any working class immigrants, and refusing entry to new ones. They are causing the poor to suffer medically. Brexit is only causing housing to increase in price and get worse in upkeep. I used to believe that the UK had great social services, but I can now see that people who take advantages of these services are constantly discriminated against. More so than in the US and many other countries. The UK is trying to cut their social services as well, which only further supports my belief that the UK wants to be a country of only the well off.
Unfortunately, this aspiration is costing the lives of the lower class. They are being forced to live on the streets, die without medical care, or suffer in poverty. The UK is supposed to be a first world country, but I see that it is going down a path that makes the first world benefits only accessible to some. All are not equal in Britain.