Stop kicking wonderful NHS

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Sitting on your own in the waiting room of a casualty department at 5am on a Wednesday is a pretty sobering experience, especially after you’ve hopped all the way from the drop-off point because you think you’ve bust your ankle.

Like most of our family’s problems, it can be traced back to our adolescent lurcher. Two weeks ago me and the boss took Walter for a walk, yours truly skidded in some mud and, like every man ever born, decided to ignore the throbbing pain, hoping it would go away of its own accord.

Over the next few days, it got steadily worse until the pain built to a crescendo at 4.30am on Wednesday and woke me up. The boss, showing remarkable clarity of thought for the middle of the night, said: “Get dressed and I’ll take you to casualty. It’ll be quiet now.” So off we went.

The staff were magnificent. Seen by a nurse within 15 minutes, examined by a doctor immediately afterwards and X-rayed five minutes after that. No break, possible Achilles damage but more than likely just a sprained ankle.

A nurse bandaged me up, another handed me a set of crutches and an appointment card to see a consultant two days later and 45 minutes after hopping in, I was limping out, feeling a bit of a fraud for wasting these good people’s time.

This column has always prided itself on ignoring politics like you would a petulant, overindulged child. But at a time when the world is going to hell in a handcart and the Government is squeezing the health service so hard it squeaks, running it down to sell the most profitable bits off on the cheap, then they’ve got to be stopped.

There aren’t too many countries in the world where you can turn up at a hospital, get treatment and be on your way without paying through the nose first. But you can here. We take it for granted and if we’re not careful we’ll be paying £10 for an appointment with our GP by the end of the decade.

Another lesson to be learned from all this is listen to your wife, she knows best. The boss put her foot down and told me to put my foot up for three days – and a week later the ankle is on the mend.