Mystery Jets’ Blaine Harrison on how privatisation fears inspired ‘Hospital Radio’ – their “ode to the NHS”

"It's not until there's the threat of something being taken away from you that you really value the importance of it."


Mystery Jets singer Blaine Harrison has explained how their new track ‘Hospital Radio’ is an “ode to the NHS”, while also reflecting the growing fear of privatisation in the UK.

Harrison, who was born with Spina Bifida, has spent large sections of his life relying on the National Health Service for ongoing treatment and says that the song reflects the huge role it has played in society since being established in 1948.

“‘Hospital Radio’ is an ode to the NHS that pays huge gratitude. It plays lip service to the role it has played in my life, having spent so much time on wards growing up,” Harrison told NME.

But as fears of privatisation continue to grow, the song also strikes a cautionary note – with Harrison warning that “it’s not until there’s the threat of something being taken away from you that you really value the importance of it.”

“Certainly travelling abroad, I’ve spent time in hospitals in other countries and it just further amplifies my appreciation of the NHS. It comes from a place of fear and gratitude, but also from an anxiety from what a future would look like without it,” he said.

The inspiration for the track came last month, during Harrison’s latest stay in hospital. He admits to “recoiling in horror” as he watched Donald Trump’s state visit on television – where the US president warned that the NHS could become part of post-Brexit trade deals between the UK and the US.

“This realisation came quite recently during Trump’s visit to the UK. I was in Homerton Hospital watching Trump address the British media from my hospital bed and he started talking about how NHS contracts could be part of future UK-US trade deals,” he said.

“Like a lot of people, I recoiled in horror and really that was a case of looking around me. In a hospital, you’re surrounded by people who are there for all types of reasons, but I noticed the amount of elderly people and it hit home – the realisation of what a future would look like without the NHS for the people who need it the most.”

Disabled musicians

Mystery Jets’ Blaine Harrison

As for the title of the track, Harrison says that it was inspired by the survival of hospital radio stations in the age of austerity and their role in providing a window to the outside world for thousands of patients in the UK.

“Whenever I’ve been in hospital, I’ve always tuned into the radio stations. Music is the ultimate medicine we have and in a way, it can lift you out of whatever predicament you’re in. Nowhere is that needed as much as in hospital and often I’ve tuned in late at night,” said Harrison.

“Even if you might be the only person listening, it really feels like that voice is talking to you. It’s a voice coming down the line and I think in the age that we’re living in, the information age, where we can find our music and our news, it’s astounding that they have survived under austerity.

“That’s why I chose the title of the song, hospital radio feels like it should have been the first thing to go in the age of cuts.

“But they have weathered the storms of austerity and it’s almost like there is something fragile – it’s a butterfly that has survived under such dire conditions since the recession.”

Hospital Radio is out now.