While caring for the minds and bodies of 65million people and with net immigration at more than a third of a million a year, the NHS is bound to generate some dissatisfied patients.
I am not one of them because my treatment at the hands of the NHS recently was flawless, no it was a pleasure.
As a habitual octogenarian golfer with double hip replacements and bestowed with more enthusiasm than talent, my view is that remaining injury free is likely to win me more matches than my swing. But calamity struck! I had a terrible fall on my beloved golf course damaging my right hip and left shoulder resulting in me being helped from the course. After a sleepless night and fearing that my injuries at least required an X-ray I dialled 111 to be prompted by machine, which immediately put me in touch with a bright and pleasant controller who agreed that I should receive attention, and offered a non urgent ambulance. I refused the ambulance and undertook to attend Sunderland A&E under my own steam.
It was simple to find a parking space and even limping very badly with a walking stick I reached a comfortable seat in the waiting room within four minutes. Before long a very smart and cheerful nurse was taking my blood pressure and recording details of the accident.
A second equally charming but more qualified nurse examined me and there being no porter available, she actually pushed me on the trolley to the X-ray department. More bright pleasant attention ensued, this time from the radiographers, who carefully and efficiently went about their work. Within half an hour the qualified nurse was discussing the X-rays and further treatment with me.
All told, less than two hours after parking the car I was on my way home only £3 poorer (parking), for a service which in the private sector would have cost more than £1,000.
Second only to the pain I suffered in the fall was the churlishness of my golfing opponents, who insisted on me paying the losers fee because I couldn’t complete the round.
I suppose it’s the difference between state and private enterprise. Some golfers could well learn from NHS quality of care.