Peter Hoskin

An essential entry in the NHS debate

An essential entry in the NHS debate
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There will be few more moving entries in the NHS debate than Ian Birrell's article in the Independent today, and I'd urge all CoffeeHousers to read it.  Birrell recounts his attempts to get his disabled daughter treated in the system, and the result is a catalogue of ineptitude, frustration and - even - deception.  One story Birrell tells is of how a doctor assured him a crucial blood-test had been sent for analysis to Germany, when actually it had been "dumped in storage and forgotten".

What makes this all the more powerful is that it comes from someone who doesn't hate the NHS, but who can see the need for extensive waste-cutting measures and reform.  Birrell has his own ideas on that front – which he mentions in the article – but the concluding paragraph gives you the thrust of his argument:

"Like the health secretary, I am an Everton fan. And like Andy Burnham, the national health service and Everton are among the most cherished institutions in my life. My daughter is still alive, for which I give thanks to the support, dedication and friendship of many in the health service. But it is precisely because I am such a fervent admirer that I believe it is so shameful that the NHS is allowed to limp on in its current state. For too many people, especially many of those most in need of its help, it is something of a disaster zone. The NHS is a sick institution, and cheap political point-scoring will do nothing to solve the problems. We need to find a cure."  

There is little more worth adding, apart from to say that this is exactly the kind of informed, considered article that we should be paying attention to.  The spat on Twitter may not have permitted such shades of grey, but perhaps we should be grateful that it's prompted this wider, more meaningful debate.