I look at the horror stories in the press about the NHS, and then I compare them to my own experience within the service. The two do not mesh.


I have a chronic immune-system disorder known as psoriasis. For many years, it was considered to be a skin disease, as the main symptom presents as large, unsightly “plaques” of rough, angry-looking scales on the trunk, arms and legs. Research over the last ten years has given us a much greater understanding of psoriasis, and how to control, if not cure it.

I’ve been attending Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospital, home to one of the best dermatology departments in the country, for management of my psoriasis. I was referred, free of charge and without fuss, by my GP. They’ve been brilliant, guiding me through different types of therapy and treatment.

Recently, I realised that my current course of medication wasn’t controlling the plaques as well as I liked. I elected to up my game and try a systemic treatment – basically, popping a pill.

Systemic treatments work for psoriasis by slowing down the immune system. I know, this sounds like a terrible idea. But bear in mind that the disease is effectively caused by my immune system revving out of control. Calming things down on the inside makes for a much less angry result on the outside.

However, it’s a delicate balancing act. In order to get the go-ahead, I needed to get green lights on liver function and cholesterol – both of which are affected by psoriasis and the systemic treatment for it. My results came back and sadly, they weren’t perfect.

So, for the last three months, I’ve been undergoing a fairly intensive round of investigation. I’ve been through consultations with leading lipid and liver specialists, undergone ultrasound and fibroscans, and lost very nearly an armful of blood to tests. I was called into my GP to go over the results as they were coming in, giving me perspective and more importantly, easing my worries at some of the scarier numbers. The whole process
has been carried out with professionalism, good humour, patience and empathy by everyone I’ve met, from receptionists to nurses to the highest consultants, even when it was clear that they were overworked and understaffed.

The end result: I’m pleased to say that I’m now on a systemic treatment called acetretin, which should start to clam things down in a few weeks. The end cost to me as a user has been the meds. £7.85 for a four month supply of acetretin, and the same for a two-month supply of a statin to work on my cholesterol. Grand total: £15.70.* Try and get that in the US-based model that the Tories are trying to impose.

To conclude, when I watch Jeremy Hunt on Newsnight claim that the NHS is an archaic, broken system, I look at the evidence I have at hand and can only conclude that the man is ill-informed, an idiot or has another agenda. For me, the NHS has always delivered on time and on budget. It’s never let me down. This is more than I can say for Hunt and his cronies. If they’re after an outdated, unaccountable structure to blame for slipping standards, perhaps they should be looking a little closer to home.

NHS performers at the Olympic opening ceremony

*yes, I’m aware that’s not a one-time cost.


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Writer. Film-maker. Cartoonist. Cook. Lover.

4 thoughts on “My NHS”

  1. Absolutely spot on Rob! I have a minor heart defect that I have being undergoing investigation/treatment for close on two years. As you, I have had a battery of tests, been up to see a specialist and had two longish stays in hospital. The service and care has been outstanding.

    The doctors have been professional and knowledgeable, the nurses fantastic (way overworked though!) and it hasn’t cost me a penny! My condition isn’t life threatening as yet and if I had to pay for my treatment (ala USA) then I guess I would just live with it instead.

    I’m a Conservative by nature (okay don’t shout at me!) but the last couple of years have been disgraceful. This constant drip feeding to the media of stories about killer hospitals and uncaring nurses/Doctors are designed to butter up the public to the dismantling of the NHS. This should be fought by every single person in this country! We all know what rhymes with Hunt don’t we!

  2. Glad you liked it, Nick. I think a lot of grass-roots Tories like yourself are as appalled by the actions of this government with regards to the NHS as I am, Nick. And let’s not forget, many MPs have outside interests in private sector healthcare. Not that I’m insinuating anything, of course…

  3. Was wondering if you also have Psoriatic arthritis? People with Psoriasis often develop it. I have it but didn’t really suffer from psoriasis except for a few symptoms early on in my late teens such as bad dry skin on my face.
    Symptoms I have from Psoriatic arthritis include painful toe nails and back pain and bones in hand suffer. Also extreme exhaustion although the reason why people who suffer with Psoriatic arthritis suffer with exhaustion is unknown.
    Anyway, maybe you got all thus to look forward to. Haha

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