Attending the funeral of Margaret Thatcher in April, the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, was much impressed by the bit in the sermon by the Bishop of London about how Mrs Thatcher had replied personally to so many letters.
He went back to his department, and asked it to give him each day one letter from a member of the public which recounted particularly shocking problems in the Health Service. He now uses these letters to dive into the problems that patients experience. It is a good idea, but how alarming that it is a novel one. The Department of Health receives more letters than any other part of government except 10 Downing Street. Is it really the case that up till now, officials have never troubled the Secretary of State with the woes of the public?
For more than 60 years, we have been bullied into thinking that the NHS works for us. At last, because so many — especially the old — have cruelly experienced the opposite, we want to make our feelings known. Mr Hunt’s one letter a day is a tiny drop in the ocean of misery which must eventually sweep the current system away.