Stephen Fry, the magnificent lefty liberal giant, once wrote an article about The Hate List. Particularly the one abhorrence that, were it to be introduced, would precipitate his emigration from good ole Blighty. His choice was the Death Penalty. Don't get me wrong, I am no advocate of state sponsored murder but recent events have placed something different at the top of my list. The one disgrace that would force me to pack my bags and scuttle away to morally sunnier climes is the Privatisation of the NHS.
I have been very lucky in my life. Bar a couple of visits to A&E I had only every been in hospital once, namely when I arrived prematurely kicking and screaming into the world.
But a week or so ago that situation changed. I don't want to bore you all with the finer details. Suffice to say that I was referred by my GP to a consultant at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. An appointment was duly booked and I undertook a short procedure leading to an instant diagnosis and a future appointment to discuss treatment.
But this is the amazing thing - the thing that we should constantly remind ourselves - the humbling fact that still blows my bits away - this is all fcuking free people*. Pardon my French but let me repeat this for those of you that are hard of hearing - fcuking** free.
Not only that but this all happened pretty quickly and efficiently. From the local medical practice to the hospital everyone I have met has been, at the very least, efficient and courteous, and at most, bloody near angelic. Special mention must go to the nurses at the hospital. A gentle hand on the shoulder when this particular patient was apprehensive and fidgety is a flipping godsend. This type of attention isn't taught. These people were born to care.
Some bigoted knobs would be disgusted at the range of accents heard on the ward but why on earth would this ever detract from the care that was given? I fear that the impending divorce from our European cousins may endanger our access to these dedicated carers in the future but that is another issue and may be discussed at another time. (Check out this article to get some more figures and thoughts on migrant workers in the NHS).
Oh shut up Richard I hear you cry, you really can't be this unswervingly positive? It can't all be this rosy?
Well no. Obviously. My contact with this monolith is hardly regular but I can only take it as I find it. No doubt there are jobsworths, pen pushers and downright arseholes. No doubt also that there are unnecessary delays, misdiagnosis and penny pinching that cause untold suffering and delays.
But for my part, my fleeting dabble with this national monolith has been faultless and that fills my little pot of pride right up. Veritably brimming with pride I am - proud to be British and proud to call the NHS my own. And while it is owned by us all my bags shall remain unpacked and I shall stay on this rather remarkable island until that is taken away from me.
* - to those that have deliberately misinterpreted this, I obviously mean free at the point of delivery. I know that these services are payed for from taxation. Oh and congratulations on spectacularly missing the point.
** - to those that don't like the expletives. FCUCK OFF.