Thursday, July 05, 2007

A brush with the NHS

My dad is 88.

It is a great age and marvellous for us both that he's reached it, particularly since he's compus mentis, independent of mind and establishment, and enjoys a rather good quality of life on the quiet.

They took his driving licence away a couple of years ago on the grounds that his vision wasn't as it should be. He was furious - I was quietly relieved - although I admit I posted his protest letters to consultants and government ministers.

Recently though his vision was well off the mark, he was missing a bit when he poured the claret at dinner, and the time had come to get his cataracts done.

I drove up to Manchester to be with him this week, but I needn't have worried. He refused to allow me to park the car and come in to the city's eye hospital outpatients with him. I rang the ward a bit later and was told to come and retrieve him.

I parked the car in a big underground multi storey next to the ward and walked in unchallenged until I got to the ward entrance where I was told to wash my hands in gel - clearly big efforts being made to stamp out MRSA and the rest of the nasty bed bugs.

Inside I found my dad tucking into a large dinner and a cup of tea. A nurse appeared with a big plastic bag of eye drops and cotton wool and I had him home by the close of play. He reports his vision much improved.

Why is this remarkable? I have a feeling this is entirely unremarkable because the NHS, while clearly plagued with all sorts of problems, has nonethless had a great deal of money spent on it and is now in better shape than it was under the Tories. My hunch is that there are lots of unremarkable little stories like this, and one day they might add up to some sort of feel good factor for Labour. But if they do, it will be after they leave office.

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