If you're old, if you're sick, if you're inarticulate or incapacitated, if you haven't got a sharp-elbowed champion to protect you from the NHS, then avoid hospital admission like Ebola. An NHS where consultants are the new GPs and the average junior doctor has about as much knowledge of medicine as a PC World salesboy has of motherboards, where nursing staff have never been so highly paid or so poorly vocationally committed, where staff have to be coerced to wash their hands, and where basic human dignity has little place. If you're inconvenient, a nuisance or they simply can't make a diagnosis, you risk being placed on the Liverpool Death Pathway, deprived of food and water and drugged to the point of unconsciousness until you die. It's less offensive than the method used by the T4 clinics to euthanise patients - an exhaust hose from a truck - but none the less effective.
More and more frequently one hears from friends, relatives and colleagues or reads in papers of all flavours of the deaths of relatives or spouses from lack of care at the hands of the NHS. Even as I write, hundreds of older people, many who served this nation in the last war, are being shepherded towards institutional death. How many would have fared better at home, cared for by relatives, with visits from a wise GP? How many would have recovered, won another decade of quality life? Of course there are few wise GPs left.
We've lost our way on healthcare. We've spent too long defending the 'Carry On' NHS of competent and caring SRNs, stern Matrons, erudite consultants and clean linen, spent too long defending the NHS of the 1960s, and all the while the real NHS has changed out of all recognition. Nurses with 'tramp stamp' tattoos, binge hangovers and Chlamydia more interested in their mobile phones than their patients, timid and self-doubting Bengali housemen, consultants swamped with trivial referrals from GPs who simply can't be arsed any more, indolent contract cleaners and a stifling bureaucracy isolated from the shit and pus behind walls of Powerpoint presentations and performance indicators. The NHS is sick. More money isn't the answer.