…”Hello,” says a voice you do not know. It is the voice of someone with a pen poised over your name on a list, ready to strike it off. It is the detached voice of the cold-call insurance salesperson, the double-glazing hawker, and the voice wants to know whether it is you speaking. Yes, you say, anxiety beginning to frost your heart, and you confirm that you are you. And then the voice wants to know whether you have an appointment for an operation on the coming Tuesday.
Yes, you say, and the chill of apprehension deepens. “I am sorry to inform you that your operation has been cancelled,” says the voice. “Please ring after 10am tomorrow.” And you slump back, exhausted and bewildered, facing another wait of unguessable duration, and the pain and the fear continue. That is how the NHS is treating patients every day across the country; and the doctors themselves believe it is a cruel and wanton waste of resources.