The first time I got hustled I was three years old and recovering from Meningitis. A couple of weeks before that I was running a temperature and my mother took me down the road to our GP (yes,I did say down the road, a five minute walk). The doctor examined me graced my mother with a look of stark alarm and said,
“Thank goodness Mrs Edusei-Mensah that you brought her to me! Any later and goodness knows what would have happened! I think she has Meningitis!”.
Hence my lengthy stay in the NHS funded hospital, and hence the first time I got hustled. I have always been keen on my food and the patient in the room next to mine had a jam sandwich I liked, and which I purchased with my mechanised (and newly purchased) spinning top. I had a room all to myself (just like on a private ward), and so it was some time before the nurse and my mother discovered what had happened to my mechanised spinning top. Of course my mother was less than pleased and having eaten the jam sandwich I got my toy back.
The second time I got hustled was when I attempted to register with a doctor’s surgery in London. I could not believed the ‘Victorian’ arrangement I walked into. A range of stalls set up within a waiting room, manned by half a dozen different receptionists for half a dozen different doctors. Gone was the tranquillity infused waiting room of the mature, sensible and dependable doctor. In its place was this frenetic, pauper ethos infused, ‘be grateful if I can see you for ten minutes’ mentality. I must have been to that doctor’s surgery all of two times in the three years they had my paperwork, going there was so off-putting. Especially since I knew I’d paid my National Insurance contributions for some sort of medical service and was pretty certain that this wasn’t it.
David Cameron promised at the Conservative party conference to ‘ring-fence’ the NHS budget. My response to that is thank god, because we appear to have slipped from the service that saved my life as a child, to one where, where you are when the ambulance picks you up, determines whether you’re dead before you reach the only A&Es this government hasn’t closed down. I can remember the pin-point accuracy of the doctor who saved my life, just as I can remember the errors that led to my friend’s mother being misdiagnosed repeatedly, until her Cancer was too far gone for her life to be saved.
Mr Cameron maintains that you can only have a strong NHS if you have a strong economy, well sir, a strong economy requires healthy, strong-limbed people. And also, sir, the NHS’s employees need encouragement and inspiration to help provide those services which create healthy, strong-limbed people. In view of this, it might be a very good idea to provide those workers (I don’t wish to sound too socialist), with a credible pay rise, sir.