Wednesday, 5 September 2012

A worried NHS fan, as young as his heart but older than his lungs

It’s not the cough what carries you off, runs the Cockney saying, it’s the coffin they carry you off in.

My cough, with accompanying wheezing, has lasted on and off for the whole summer. I use the word ‘summer’ here in the calendar sense. A cough that lasts two weeks is neither here nor there, really, and that’s the summer we’ve had by the weather. But I’ve had this recurring irritation pretty well since June.

So today I decided it was time to follow my wife’s advice and visit my GP. Or rather not the GP, but the nurse practitioner, a wonderful institution: people with great wisdom rather than learning who can deal with the minor conditions effectively, efficiently and with great affability.

I got tests galore. From my height and weight to my lung capacity. Over a couple of visits it must have taken two to three hours. And apart from the kindness and professionalism I met, one of the striking features of the whole experience was that it was all free. No-one asked me to produce an insurance document. No-one asked me to provide evidence that anything had been pre-approved by some bureaucrat somewhere. Above all, no-one asked me for a credit card.

It always amazes me when friends or colleagues look at the States, where healthcare costs twice as much, and tell me how much better things are over there. Yeah, right.

Not that things over here are all that safe. The poor old NHS has been put through the wringer over the last couple of years by Andrew Lansley, one of the most inept Health Secretaries it’s been my misfortune to come across. He’d had five years as Opposition spokesman beforehand, which suggested he might know what he was talking about, but it was obvious as soon as he got into office that he didn’t have the faintest idea.

We’ve just had a cabinet reshuffle, the opportunity for a competent prime minister to replace dead wood by fine new brains. Unfortunately, instead of a competent prime minister we have David Cameron. I couldn’t think of anyone who might make a worse Health Secretary than Lansley, but Cameron is unbeatable: he’s found just the man.

I’d forgotten about Jeremy Hunt, Culture Secretary, who gave a lamentable performance before the Leveson enquiry into press standards (for which read lack of standards). He’d revealed himself to be entirely a pawn of the Murdoch family interests, with no control of either his department or his advisers. Basically a walking disaster area. I’d written him off as a man whose career was over and who would be returned to the back benches at the first opportunity.

That was to reckon without Cameron. Step forward our new Health Secretary: Jeremy Hunt. If you want an accurate assessment of the man, just remember that Cockneys like to use rhyming slang.

However, if things don’t look too good for the NHS, so far the results of my own tests have been encouraging, to the point that I’m beginning to be concerned that the condition will turn out to be mostly psychosomatic, a kind of man-wheeze, if that’s the pulmonary equivalent of man-flu.

The best finding was that produced by some little testing machine (so it must be true) that I have the lungs of a 55-year old. If you’re not impressed by that, well it’s because you’re too young. From where I’m sitting, that’s satisfactory news.

Except that I’m worried about the 55-year old. Whose lungs has he got?

Great if they're in good shape. But whose are they?
And it must be time my mother came clean with me. She never mentioned the double-lung transplant I had at four. I think I should be told.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've beeb trying to find words to describe the farcical promotion of Jeremy Hunt (and failed), but you got it in one.
As fro your throat irritation, try HALL'S; after India I had the same problem and they helped