Here I was in an NHS clinic again – it’s a rehabilitation routine which has become so familiar over the past year as I try to regain a normal life after major surgery.
NHS coffee is an important part of this ritual. I like to sit quietly in the clinic cafe on these occasions, sipping from a cup and gathering my thoughts for what’s ahead or maybe doing a little research for my next column.
I think the coffee brand supplied to the NHS is as good as any of the major High Street places. This small decaff coffee in my hand, with an extra shot, had set me back £1.95, which is cheaper than most. I avoid coffee with caffeine now as it plays havoc with me.
I had just paid more than that to secure a spot in a council car park close by. I presume this had been built to service the large multi-purpose health centre.
But why are NHS patients forced to pay for the privilege of parking for their treatment? The council should take a leaf out of Lady Helen Wood’s philanthropic handbook after her family’s charitable trust paid for a free multi-storey patients’ car park at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
Patients at this satellite health centre should not have to pay for parking either.
I was slightly more nervous with this appointment as it was going to be more hands-on than normal, if you get my drift. More probing and squeezing.
Pleasant early morning sun was streaking through large, modern windows, which complemented original granite walls around the cafe refurbished to their former glory. So there were actually plenty of reasons to be happy and optimistic.
Just in case this slipped my mind, I was reading a P&J article in which US medical researchers claimed optimistic souls lived longer. They could prove it after studying a large number of male and female volunteers over a number of years. This revelation did not surprise me.
Being optimistic and cheery is light work and makes people around you feel better, too.
A miserable, pessimistic persona has the reverse effect, but I believe it also makes the afflicted individual feel ill and mentally depressed. That can’t be healthy, can it? Even in the biggest crisis, a joke and smile can make all the difference.
I had a few minutes to spare, so I looked through some of the leaflets and other paraphernalia which lies around in these places. It wasn’t “NHS Staff News” which grabbed my intention, but invitations to join “Modern Buddhism” classes.
It seemed that there were two competing practitioners on the go. I didn’t realise that the King Street/Beach Boulevard area of Aberdeen was a hotbed of Buddhism.
But come to think about it – and this might just be a coincidence – there was a markedly relaxed and happy atmosphere in the medical centre.
Boris Johnson is a natural comedian (I know, I worked with him for a short spell many years ago) and as sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel beneath it all. But he is tip-toeing along a tightrope over warnings the NHS is being used as a gambling chip to secure a big fat trade deal from President Trump.
US medical providers and their powerful “Big Pharma” drugs companies are aching to plunder multi-billion NHS business, but would that spell the end of the NHS as we know it as American-driven costs spiral beyond its budget?
Would we need US-style private medical insurance to pay for it all because the NHS would be bankrupt otherwise? I read the other day that private medical insurance in the US costs the equivalent of about £360 a month per person on average, but I also spotted one American woman whose 61-year-old mother was paying almost £1,000 a month.
I believe my own operation would have cost me £20,000 if I was forced to pay for it privately. With no NHS or private insurance, the stark choice would have been to sell my house to pay for it or just die.
Boris says the NHS is not on the table in any potential US trade deal, but he must stay true to his word on this despite being caught in the current constitutional storm over his “democratic outrage”.
Our proroguing PM is wheeling Remainer-dominated MPs into a quarantine ward while they attempt to put him in a Brexit straitjacket.
Let’s be honest – for a majority of MPs the last three years has not been about working to apply a democratic Brexit referendum decision, but thwarting the public vote entirely in what many see as the real democratic outrage. And that’s how this sham democracy would go on indefinitely without a painful showdown.
My tests were over. The quality of service was superb and I came away with various bits and pieces of equipment to help build strength in various body parts. And it was all free. Yes, I know I pay national insurance, but this appointment might have cost £1,000 at least had I been required to pay through US-style medical insurance. Lord knows how much US Buddhist classes would cost.
Fat-cat US medical firms are viewed as unwelcome bedside visitors for the NHS, and it could be political suicide for Boris in a general election if he looked like inviting them in.
David Knight is the long-serving former deputy editor of the Press and Journal