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Free's a crowd (as far as your Tory government is concerned): Our hospital wards don't yet look like this (it's a ward in India during a Malaria outbreak) but it's just a matter of time.

Free’s a crowd (as far as your Tory government is concerned): Our hospital wards don’t yet look like this (it’s a ward in India during a Malaria outbreak) but it’s just a matter of time.

Today, yr obdt srvt spent the morning at Breconshire War Memorial Hospital, where Mrs Mike underwent a few tests before being booked in for an operation at the end of the month.

We didn’t wait long to be seen. The surgeon made his checks, asked “When would you like to have the operation?” and booked it for the very first opportunity available.

We get freedom of choice in the Welsh NHS, you see.

I couldn’t help but comment: “NHS Wales is a mess, says Westminster.”

Conversation ensued, with us all (including the nurse) agreeing that the Tories in government don’t have a clue what they’re talking about – and in any case they don’t have a right to complain because they have withdrawn a disproportionate amount of funding from the NHS in Wales. The surgeon actually compared our politicians to a pit of snakes.

The conversation followed on very well from one I had with a friend last night, about those problems the service is known to be experiencing in Accident and Emergency. They aren’t any different from those affecting the health service in England, and have less to do with the quality of care than they have to do with bed-blocking.

Put simply: Wards are full of people with long-term care needs who have nowhere to go, because they have no family or friends who are willing to take them in and look after them. This means people admitted to A&E cannot be moved into the wards, so their places cannot be taken by new admissions – and this means ambulances start backing up outside the hospitals. Then there are no ambulances available for new emergency calls, because they are still carrying the patients they picked up at the last call.

That’s overly simplistic, but hopefully the point is made.

The Conservative-led Coalition government is perfectly content to let this go on because “Free’s a crowd” in the Tory health system.

Back in the 1970s, when my own grandmother started to get too old and infirm to live on her own, my parents took her into our house. They got the benefit of an extra pair of eyes to look after myself and my brother (Beastrabban), and the household was boosted by the addition of her pension (or rather, the part of it that she agreed to pay for her keep).

It was a very good arrangement.

And it begs the question: Are people now so selfish – so determined to avoid the responsibilities incurred by looking after the people who once looked after them – that they are actively trying to avoid the benefits that can be gained from such an arrangement?

Or (to mess up a metaphor) are we a nation so schizoid that we think cutting off our nose will improve our face?

That’s an attitude that started back in the Tory-dominated 1980s, if my memory serves me correctly.

It occurs to me that (and again, I am oversimplifying) the crisis in A&E is the price we all pay for that kind of behaviour.

It won’t be solved with money.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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