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August 9, 2021

A NATIONAL Express coach driver informed me and other passengers over the microphone as we passed over the Severn Bridge into Wales yesterday from London Victoria that it was now compulsory to wear masks unless exempted only on our side of the bridge.

Yikes! I thought, will Welsh plod force me to cover my mouth and nose the minute or second they spot me?

No, of course not, it’s just a cosmetic politically-motivated delusion (swallowed hook, line and sinker by a woeful media) that Wales is a safer place than England under a more interventionist, cautious and personally responsible government closer to the action and quicker to take it using established reciprocal more evolved ties with doctors and nurses through their unions to ensure a safer, better connected, planned and provided health service than over the “border”.

One caller to a Radio Wales show this morning responding to the story that angry Welsh NHS-users have started a petition sick and tired as it is now impossible to actually see a doctor in person due mainly to health and safety fundamentalism meaning the system has now altered radically got it in one – the NHS struggling under unprecedented pressure, especially here in Wales, is slowly and steadily going back to pre-1948 days of rationing and treatment only for those who can pay.

This must now be admitted immediately then the better off, like, of course, Mark Drakeford, should be asked to pay for treatment and universal free prescriptions and bus travel should be scrapped because a universal third class service free to all is now beyond saving.

A two-tier service with those who can afford to getting exactly what they want while at the same time subsidising others who can’t so they get a less obviously congested, third rate, unresponsive and rationed service because large numbers of people will have been taken out of it and some of their wealth could be ploughed back into it.

The NHS has always been two-tier with doctors and nurses always having the option to work in private practice where the hourly rates and standards are usually higher but, sadly, people like me do not have that option so I am looking at a future where the pressure on me to keep myself well will be heightened more than ever in my lifetime.

The main opponents to Aneurin Bevan’s NHS – a basic health insurance scheme giving grateful world war survivors simple cover for accidents, emergencies and illnesses – were the GPs themselves because it limited their right to charge.

Ideological stubborn socialists have always hailed the NHS as our greatest historical achievement and there are still some deluded souls who hail it as the best in the world, apparently blind to harsh realities in Wales acknowledged even by current health minister Baroness Eluned Morgan that our infrastructure and buildings are inefficient and difficult to manage and our system of clumsy, dated non-digitised management is inferior and less responsive.

So many services offered by the GP surgery like ear wax removal have been abandoned and people told to pay privately for it or go to the pharmacy, which, increasingly, is becoming the new surgery as social distance is not monitored.

Indeed, calls to surgeries are now much more weeding our or filtering exercises – with callers directed at the earliest opportunity to consider going somewhere else and, possibly, paying – than they are responsive and empathetic answers to need.

Mark Drakeford and Nicola Sturgeon have both emphasised – almost choreographed like a closely entangled dancing couple – that words like “freedom” to mark a specific point in the COVID-19 crisis will not be used by them to erect strict demarcation lines between Scotland and Wales with England and them and Boris Johnson.

There will, indeed, be no “freedom” from dissatisfaction with our GP surgery appointment system causing a hideous bottleneck at 8am when phone lines open and all slots are taken in a queueing system within 30 minutes, with our outdated hard copy prescriptions relying on drivers to pick up scripts then return them to pharmacies, with our inability to separate patients at surgeries safely and in our hospitals so that we can return to normal service, as, slowly but surely, the rest of the United Kingdom is, rightly, doing.

The established certainty that hospitals or surgeries are places to avoid is being conveniently consolidated by the fact that they, above everywhere else, are the least likely to relax and abandon no-go zones cordoned off and carefully policed relying on scientific and medical dogma which insists that humans themselves are still the greatest threat to health and safety even after most have now been vaccinated and risk of serious illness or death is falling.

Unfortunately, the seriously ill with conditions other than COVID-19 desperate for treatment and surgery languishing in a huge waiting list do not have the luxury of being able to avoid either place as they may present their only hope of survival, cure or resolution.

Now is the time to stop weaving fantasies and delusions about our collapsing Welsh NHS and start reaching into pockets to pay.

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