First blood and second thoughtsBMJ 1997; 314 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.314.7078.449 (Published 08 February 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:449
- Colin Douglas, doctor and novelist
My first serious encounter with the NHS took place when it was 3 and I was 6. Tonsillectomy then was something like measles, chickenpox, and impetigo, happening to thousands of children each year more or less randomly. Someone must have put me and my older sister on a waiting list. Suddenly we were admitted to a hospital.
At first sight it was disappointing: a scattering of cream painted huts surrounded by trodden grass. Surely hospitals–my grandfather had just died in one, and my grandmother had had something quite complicated done to her stomach in one–should be more impressive.
Then there was a terrifying moment of being unable to breathe, and an …