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Primary care blog: Why we must learn from the US election

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Primary care expert Lynn Young on the why the US election can be a lesson to us all

Like many other people living in the UK, I am utterly intrigued by the campaign currently being run by the Republican and Democratic parties in the US. By the time you read this the result of the election will be known.

Regardless of the result both Obama the youngster and Mcain the wise elder deserve our congratulations for a wonderful display of sheer guts, energy, tenacity, performance, oratory and theatre. No-one runs an election campaign like the Americans, and this one has been the grandest of shows.

It's been reported that, generally speaking, nurses working in the US support Obama rather then Mcain. While the Clintons failed, for understandable reasons, to develop a state-funded health care system, Obama promises to ensure that the poorest people will receive good health care and that no0one will suffer the anxiety of huge medical bills in the future.

We're a spoilt lot in the UK with our wonderful, though not perfect, state-funded NHS. All of us have reasons to be grateful to the fact that, when faced with a horrible and distressing illness, the last thing on our minds is the cost of our treatment.

Even relatively wealthy people in the states have been impoverished through the high costs of treatment when the limits of the insurance plan have been reached.

I have relished the pantomime attached to the presidential election and the enthusiasm shown by Americans to cast their votes. Something big is happening in America, and millions of ordinary citizens from all walks of life are queuing up for several hours to vote for the president of their choice.

So, across the pond we Brits watch with great interest and some of us will be wondering what enthusiasm we will be showing when it is time for our next election.

Political apathy has crept into all our communities.This is terribly dangerous and could, in time, be a threat to our 'never to be taken for granted’ democracy. I want us to take a leaf from our good friends in the US and embrace their renewed interest in the political system. Complacency is a dreadful thing and we all need a short sharp shock.

I love the energy shown by the Americans during this most exciting of presidential campaigns. Somehow, we need to bottle some of it and transport it to good old blighty. Emeline Pankhurst would be dismayed to learn that a large number of people choose - yes choose - not to exercise their right to vote.

So, when it's time to place our vote for the political party of our choice, take a minute to think of America and the wondrous political engagement that took place between its system and the people. For a mere 30% of Brits to vote in a national election is a disgrace.

This is the pathetic figure from our previous election, and it is critical to the political health of our nation that we strive for a 100% turnout next time.

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