This weekend I have been recovering from a minor operation. I am somewhat sore and limping, but, above all, grateful. I am lucky enough to live in a country with a National Health Service.
I got the latest hospital treatment and, especially as this Hull, experienced nothing but friendly helpfulness and a down-to-earth sense of humour. Since the first symptoms occurred and I was forced to seek treatment, I have met wall-to-wall niceness. And it cost me nothing, other than the taxes that I, unlike many major corporations, actually pay.
As this is the season for lecturing President Obama, I would tell him that if he wants to do one thing of unquestionable benefit to the American people, he should come and have a look at our NHS. It is something we should be proud of.
However, the cheery professionalism of the clinicians can easily be dispelled with a single magic word - 'management'. This is not simply the usual moans about those who manage from those that do, nor is it solely a reflection of the current trend for the creation of internal markets in the public sector, it reflects a hostility to an insidious political agenda. Part-privatisation by stealth is still a threat to one of our most important collective rights.
Just as I cannot conceive why anyone would want to waste money by paying for private health insurance, other than for social cachet and an illusion of better treatment, so the idea that privatisation could conceivably be a benefit to anyone apart from the profit makers, is beyond my comprehension. The 'reform' agenda has dropped out of the news lately, but when the time comes for you to need health care, it is a real reminder about just how much it should be resisted.