Make NHS a political no-go zone

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It has been said repeatedly in recent weeks that the looming general election is a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity for change.

As much as millions of us crave a root and branch upheaval of our creaking political system, there can be few sane grown-ups who think the stars of this particular political pantomime will deliver anything but disappointment.

That is the problem with being politically homeless - the lack of a horse to back means you tend to view the entire field with an unhealthy mix of disinterest and cynicism.

Quite frankly, as somebody who has immersed himself in every General Election since 1992, I have never felt so uninspired at the prospect of going to the polls. Of course, that could very well change during the course of the next four weeks although, if they continue to bang on about the NHS, then I seriously doubt it.

Our health service is our crowning glory, the one thing which genuinely makes me proud to be British, which is why I always bristle whenever I hear bold promises about its future from candidates of all political persuasions.

The NHS should be out of bounds during political campaigns - it needs to be treated as a no-go zone for campaigners, the same as religious institutions and the Royal Family. Is there a more un-edifying sight than a gurning politician shuffling around an unnaturally quiet hospital ward for nothing more than a quick photo opportunity?

The day after the December 12 polling day was confirmed, Boris Johnson made a busy hospital the backdrop for the start of his campaign trail. He adopted the now standard pose for a male politician - shirt-sleeves rolled up to the elbow as if he were about to deliver a calf, a la Christopher Timothy in All Creatures Great and Small.

Sometimes they tuck their tie into the top of their shirt, as though they are about to lead a crack team of surgeons into a round of major surgery rather than garner an easy headline or six. Hospitals and doctors’ surgeries - especially at this time of year - are busy places and the last thing that those who work there need are insincere vote-seekers eating into their precious time.