Will Self: the NHS is a power that can jolt even the most despairing back to life My Christmas night in A&E accompanying someone on a vodka bender brought home the reality of what we ask of our guardian angel health service.
I spent much of Christmas night in A&E at St Thomas’ hospital in London, right opposite the Houses of Parliament. It was a fitting end to the year – it would be a fitting end to any year. Hell, it would – and most probably will be – a fitting end to my life. One of my sons was born in St Tom’s; my wife had cancer surgery there. That it stands in the nexus of buildings where the nation’s powers, spiritual and temporal, are arraigned seems only just − for what is free-at-the-point-of-demand healthcare in contemporary Britain if not the alpha and omega of our civil society?
We don’t simply revere the NHS − we worship it. Why wouldn’t we, given it’s a nationwide public institution with branch offices in every town and hamlet; and a mechanism for the redistribution of the most precious resource known to us: the preservation of life itself? It goes further, though, because the NHS is for many of us what takes religion’s place when it comes to contemplating our end – for, if there’s one thing we devoutly wish, it’s to cease upon the midnight hour cosseted and with no pain whatsoever. The terminal is of the essence when it comes to healthcare anyway, given the vast majority of spending on any individual takes place in the last six weeks of their life.
We’re suckers for medical science’s promise of yet more heroic − nay, Frankensteinian − interventions Continue reading... The Guardian