"When I last wrote about the NHS four years ago, I received a barrage of criticism from those working within it. Not this time; something significant has changed. The first email was a short, sharp note of congratulation from a Yorkshire GP; in its wake came scores more from doctors, nurses, secretaries, carers, even those loathed managers. All sympathised with my family's plight, engaged with the argument and supported the call for more open debate. 'Like you, I am a fervent admirer of the NHS. That's why we must make it healthier,' said a plastic surgeon."
The article then goes on to run though some of the specific complaints and recommendations made by those NHS professionals. This is crucial. For starters, it underlines the fact that those who call for NHS reform do not necessarily #hatetheNHS. And it adds significant weight to the calls for reform made by those outside the service. Indeed, in my previous job at Reform, I was always struck by the work done by Doctors for Reform: a group of NHS employees who, as their name suggests, push for a reformed health service. The louder such reform-minded NHS insiders speak out, the more likely we are to have the health service debate we deserve.
P.S. Where Birrell mentions writing "about the NHS four years ago" above, I imainge he might be referring to this 2005 article he penned for The Spectator.