Voices: Rod Stewart paying for medical scans – what’s next? Ant and Dec taking out your appendix?

There’s been a lot of fearmongering around the NHS over the past 10 years or so. People coming out of the woodwork, talking about how if we voted Tory or allowed Brexit to go through then we’d all find ourselves waiting months for routine operations that we’d ultimately end up having to pay for.

Politicians like Jeremy Corbyn banging on about secret Tory documents, filled with insidious plans about privatisation. Scary buzz phrases like “managed decline” and “US-style healthcare” and “letting working class people suffer to pop a stock price” being bandied around by people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Unhinged scare tactics at their finest at a time when the health service is in crisis.

Anyway, Rod Stewart has started paying for people’s medical scans.

No, I’m serious; the situation with the NHS has now deteriorated to such an extent that the guy who wrote “Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?” decided he couldn’t just stand on the sidelines anymore, and has stepped in.

The 78-year-old rock legend phoned into Sky News yesterday, bemoaning the state of the country’s healthcare system and crying out for us to “change the bloody government.” Stewart, who said that he had “been a Tory for a long time now”, argued the situation with the public health system is “ridiculous” when he is able to take advantage of private healthcare at clinics that are virtually “empty”.

He then offered to pay for “10 or 20 scans, or however much it takes”, adding that “people [are] dying because they cannot get scans”. Viewers were told to get in touch with Sky News if they wanted to take advantage of the offer.

Honestly, huge respect to Stewart for stepping up and at least trying to do something (even if, by demonising the Conservative Party’s record on health – yet consistently voting Tory – you could argue that he bears some responsibility for the issue in the first place). Still, this is actual, tangible, passionate philanthropy that doesn’t seem like a cynical ploy for attention.

But it simply isn’t enough. We need real, effective change. We need… more celebrities to pay for our healthcare. It’s the only viable solution. Isn’t it?

We do have a bold history in this country of celebrities wading into politics, with some surprising results: David Bowie did it with the Scottish referendum and his “Scotland, stay with us” remark; Geri Halliwell has never been shy about stumping for Tories, famously declaring Margaret Thatcher “the first Spice Girl”.

So who else have we got? Obviously there are the heavy hitters, like Hugh Grant, Michael Caine, Ian McKellen. Surely they can cobble their finances together and buy us a year’s supply of Covid tests, on the house?

David Tennant’s back in Doctor Who this year, he must be rolling in the cash. Surely he can spare a few quid for a false leg or two?

What about Ant and Dec? I know those guys have money, they’re never off TV. Why don’t they pool their resources and fund a couple of appendectomies?

Then there’s… I don’t know, Paul Mescal? I know he’s technically Irish, but I’ve seen the BBC try to claim him as British since he got that Oscar nod, so he can chip in a little something to earn his keep. Throw a little of that Aftersun money our way, Paul.

Maybe Bob Geldof could get a few friends together and… oh God, I just realised – I’m describing Live Aid, aren’t I? I’ve just invented Live Aid.

Look, we obviously aren’t anywhere near that far gone yet in terms of needing aid and assistance, but the point stands that in a country that already has a perfectly reasonable and working health service you really shouldn’t need Rod the Mod to step in and ease some of the burden. There’s a huge difference between a celebrity taking a political stance, and being a politician. That’s not Rod’s job. His job is making your mum feel “Just Like a Woman”.

Rod Stewart is not an elected official. His service to this country began and ended when he provided us with the second-best rendition of “The First Cut Is The Deepest”, and rightly so. He should be hanging out on a yacht with Tom Jones and reminiscing about the good old days, not saving lives by providing vital medical care. Musicians should not have to step in and compensate for the infrastructure that we pay politicians to maintain for us.

What Stewart is doing is a really nice gesture. It’s just that “Rod Stewart started paying for people’s medical scans” is the kind of sentence you’d expect to see three-quarters of the way through a book titled Why the UK Doesn’t Exist Anymore.

Hopefully, we will get the NHS situation sorted out sooner rather than later. Surely, at this point, even the most committed libertarian can see that allowing a country’s publicly-funded health service to fall into disrepair right after a pandemic and during a cost of living crisis is a bridge too far.

I, for one, don’t want the UK to become the subject of a really solemn Bono documentary – and I definitely don’t want him paying for my knee surgery.