Where there's a Willesden there's a way

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Dear Daily Mail...

Yesterday I was sitting in a team meeting when I was overcome by a terrifying feeling of falling through the floor. After checking that we hadn't had to hold the meeting in the lift (again) I realised I might be coming down with an ear infection and might need some antibiotics.

At 1 I called my GP, who said they couldn't see me until first thing this morning. I'd barely sat down when the doctor buzzed me in, and 5 minutes later I was on my way in to work with a prescription for antibiotics, a gentle reminder not to stick things in my ears, and some bonus eardrops.

What does this say about the state of the NHS today?

Actually, as anyone who debates on a grown-up level knows, anecdotal evidence is worth fuck-all. But, hey, we live in a society that bases rightness on who can tell the most shocking story the loudest. Try to put forward any argument that the NHS might be alright as they go and you can expect a response like "HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT? I read in the paper that a 93-year-old granny was left on a trolley for EIGHT HOURS! It's a bloody disgrace." Quote some independent statistic from say, the 93-year-old granny trolley index, which shows the number of 93-year-old grannys left on trolleys is down to 1 this year compared with 5 last year, and they'll say "You can prove anything like that."

Add this facile level of debate to a government that's pathologically incapable of arguing with an implacably hostile right-wing press, preferring instead to validate their delusions with yet more promises to "get tough", and apply this to everything from crime to schools, and it's no surprise that so many people think this country's going to hell in a handcart when all the evidence points to the contrary.

So it's about time someone told a good, if worthless, NHS story.

Now, if you don't mind, I'm late for my job in the NHS. It's a bloody disgrace.


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