I have topped this blog with a familiar image of NHS staff in a crowded ICU tending to very sick coronavirus patients. It’s a sight we are all familiar with because it appears on the news so often. What doesn’t appear on the news and isn’t mentioned is that these hardworking men and women have been poorly equipped and very badly paid throughout this epidemic and have struggled on despite everything, to do the very best they can for their patients, which is and always has been the ethos of our National Health Service.
But yesterday I saw and felt something I never thought I would see and feel again after 1948. I went for an appointment at an eye clinic in my local hospital, where the patients sat at the prescribed distance from one another and everybody in the unit wore masks and the staff were under impossible pressure. And the longer I sat and watched, the more strongly I felt that what I was seeing and experiencing was the collapse of the system. The specialist I should have seen was plainly overworked and running well behind time – I had to leave before I could see her – but it wasn’t just that that sent my senses into alert and sitting in my study now away from it all it shocks me to remember it, but it was there just the same. It was the feeling you got in the old clinics that were run for people who couldn’t afford expensive doctors, before the NHS. And it wasn’t just me, the lady who sat on my right hand side at the prescribed distance felt it too. And said so. ‘He’s going to privatise it, isn’t he?’ she said.
And god help us, I’m afraid she was right.
The Prime Mendacitor can tell us whatever lie he likes, confident in the knowledge that nobody in Parliament or the media will ever call him out for it. So corrupt and venal is our system. I can’t bear to see him or listen to him now, but I’ll leave you with this image of him, clapping the NHS on the steps of Number 10. The Great British Trump.
I’m sorry to be so glum and I’ll find a cheerful topic for you next time. But this has to be said.