Not for the first time, I must thank an NHS walk-in centre for patching me up after another attempt to pretend I am still young, and full of athletic and sporting potential.
My 1hr 50 (ish, depending on how much time I reduce for interview stops) time in the Great North Run, a personal worst by several minutes, looked a little more impressive when I surveyed the damage of my blistered left foot this morning.
I had first started to feel it after six miles, right on the side of the foot, which is not a usual place for blisters, from which in any event I rarely suffer. I thought about stopping to check if there was a stone or something inside my shoe, but I knew I was due for an interview stop, so decided to wait till then. But by the time I did the interview, I was worried about losing too much time, so ploughed on, citing the old maxim that if you have survived pain for one mile, you can do another, then another, to the end.
Once the end was reached, I removed socks and shoes to reveal that the blister had spread from side to sole, and once I had got back to my hotel to watch the end of the Manchester derby – ‘football, bloody hell’ and all that – I could barely put weight on my foot.
By the time I was on the train home, so bad was my limp as I made repeated trips to the toilet, having drunk nine 330 centilitre bottles of water since the run, that Sting, in the same carriage after having officially started the race several hours earlier, came over to inquire. I had been studiously ignoring him on the grounds that a real celeb like him must get fed up of people trying to talk to him, but we ended up having a good chat. Nice bloke. New album sounds interesting.
By this morning, I could not get on sock or shoe. Into my head came one of the ‘lines to take’ when the walk-in centres were first announced around a decade a go … that they were designed to take pressure from GPs.
I have a terrific GP, but did I really want to add to his Monday morning load with what, when all is said and done, is just a blister, even if it was preventing me from walking properly? So off I set, barefoot, able only to walk on tiptoes, carrying shoes in the hope I’d be able to wear them on departure, to the walk-in centre at Finchley Memorial Hospital.
A couple of minutes to give my details, a five minute wait, five minutes with a nurse, another few minutes waiting for the affected area to be cleaned and dressed, job done, nurse back in to advise me about how to help it heal, shoes on and away I limped. No running, cycling or swimming for two weeks, added the nurse, making me feel even better about my 1.50ish time, if not so good about two weeks without exercise. Fiona didn’t seem too happy when I told her baths and showers were out for a few days too, in case the dressing came off.
I keep banging on about the need for Labour to do a better job of defending the record. Of course since the global financial crisis, the economy has tended to dominate the agenda, and now all the parties are talking about having to make cuts, even the Lib Dems, though I suspect Nick Clegg regrets using the word ‘savage’ to describe them.
But let nobody forget that in the past 12 years public services have seen considerable extra investment and, whatever the Tories and the media say, considerable improvements that would not have happened without that investment.
The walk-in centres may not be as great an achievement as the NHS itself, back in the days of the post-war Labour government. But they are a reminder that in small ways and large, day in day out, this govenment has improved the NHS after the Thatcher-Major years, and made a difference for the better.
Bang on about banging on about the record … it is as though we have become apologetic for what we have done as a government. I work in a school and we have new buildings, incredible computer support, smaller classes, all the things we promised and even if there are cuts the school budgets are far bigger and better than under the last lot. Why though don’t we hear ministers talking with confidence about all that?
What happens when a party is in power for a long time is that people forget what happened before, and they forget a lot of what happened since. I too used a walk-in centre recently … near Liverpool Street … and got great treatment also. I am politically quite active, and a Labour supporter, but I did not really make a link between the service and the government whose idea it was. So I doubt many people do. That is why you are right the politicians must make the link all the time, even if the press don’t want to hear the message. Well done on the run, sounds painful
If you’re in as much pain as I was a few weeks ago when an early morning mozzie breakfasted on my shin then you may have had a sense of humour by pass done while you were hopping into the drop in centre. Heartfelt commiserations. That bite cost me and the NHS dearly, 4 dressings £7.40, enough antibiotics to disinfect a whole battalion of foot soldiers and that was without the taxi fares to and from the surgery (HOW MUCH???????)SO I wont sing Walk a Mile in My shoes to you or TipToe through the Tulips but i will say (puts caps lock on) GET WELL SOON ALASTAIR don’t shake a leg!
Hal is right – People have very short memories and when you combine it with the fact that we have been in power for 12 years (13 by the election) – We need to remind people what life was actually like under the Tories….I would propose a short part of the campaign be called “Remember This?” just to remind people. ……Although personally I would like to see “Same Old Tories, Same Old Lies” make another outing……My son (6) and Daughter (4) recite it everytime DC comes on the TV …..sad and potentially a little abusive, I know – but good value nonetheless
Ah – leafy Finchley! Compare and contrast the several hour wait I endured at Edgware walk-in a few years back. Still, beat the day and a half my elderly mother waited for a doctor to call (and get her into hospital!). I’m not the least anti NHS – I think it is wonderful and necessary, but incredibly under-funded and over-stretched. We’ve had a lot of dealings with the French system over the last few weeks – some things work much better, others not so well l- If only we could all bang our heads together, regardless of country or political leanings and ensure we get it right. PS – Congrats on the run, Alastair and I hope you’re feeling 100% before too long!
I think the improvements made to the NHS over the last decade actually represent an even greater achievement that setting the thing up in the first place. That’s not to undermine the Attlee government’s triumph but in those immediate post-war years it must have been helped by the national mood which tended towards co-operative solutions and common endeavour.
A contrast indeed with early twenty first century Britain where an “every man for himself” mentality had become so ingrained in so much of the population and its media.
Mind you, there’s a part of me that feels that your injury was “self inflicted” and that you should therefore have been turned away at the door. It must be all that compassionate conservative indoctrination I’ve been exposed to over the decades or perhaps my brief spell as an army cadet in the early 1960s…
You are still young. Eddie Izzard is only a couple of years younger than you and he just ran 43 marathons.
The new access surgeries in our area are great and are taking a great deal of the strain as well as making sure people can get to see a doctor or a prescribing nurse fairly quickly.
Last week my daughter became ill and rang the surgery for an appointment. We were both hoping that getting an appointment with the access centre would be easy. Imagine our suprise when she was told she could have an ordinary appointment with her own doctor. Forty mins later she was standing in the chemist collecting a prescription.
Then there is the NHS walk in dentists. I had the mis fortune this summer to cruch a pitted olive only to find it contained a stone. I destroyed my tooth in the process. One phone call later and I was given an emergency appointment and within a couple of hours everything was sorted out.
We must let no one forget about the considerable investment we have made in our NHS. We need to remind folk about the people who were left dying on trollies because there were no beds and not enough Doctors and nurses. How about reminding folk of the hospitals and hospital wards that were closed. We rebuilt the NHS that the Tories almost destroyed.
Well done on the run, sorry to hear about the blisters, glad to hear you got on OK at your NHS walk in centre, ours in Woking is great but often under pressure, I think they make a difference even if the wait is sometimes long.
This all reflects a view that I have been repeating to anyone that will listen: the things that the anti NHS brigade rant about these days were not even on the horizon when the Tories were in power. Waits for hospital appointments of over a year were commonplace, now they quibble about definitions relating to 18 weeks; people died on trolleys in corridors and they complian about ensuring that A&E cases are seen within 4 hours.
AROMATIC DAYS AHEAD FOR
FUNDRAISING BATH-TUB BOY
AC, would it be best if you slept the next 2-3 nights in the spare room, d’you think? Considering the Finchley Memorial Hospital walk-in centre nurse, amidst her gentle reassurances, has forbidden you to bath or shower “for a few days” – apparently, for fear soaking water might disturb her treatment dressing applied to your Great North Run wound
Nowt worse than a bleedin’ blister buggering your Big Run, is there, Marathon lad?
But, by my reckoning, even without the baths and showers, you should smell more acceptable by Wednesday. But until mid-week, to prevent the family from enduring a strong morning whiff of Daddy’s pong coming downstairs to the breakfast table, perhaps your eggs and bacon could be served on a canteen tray, then left outside the spare room door, for you to collect and enjoy, at your unhygienic leisure
This strategy worked well for the Milligan family, whenever dearest Spike, of Orme Court, felt temporarily too manic and unfit to face his own family, let alone the world at large
Just think, a mere 48 hours from now, instead of smelling of self-neglect – all sweat-scented and slimy round the house and under the duvet cover – the Bath-Tub Boy’s left-foot blister will be healing gamely, your unhygienic phase in the forgotten past.
To celebrate, you’ll crack open a posh bar of expensive soap and hobble one-legged into the bath, your blister permitting, of course
Ahhh, warm-watered paradise again, at last. Strange how long 48 hours can seem. The sound of running hot water, the prospect of smelling squeaky-clean again. Life’s simpler pleasures, never to be taken for granted
Back to sailing your favourite plastic boat, Coxswain Campbell, sir, and swimming your yellow ducks upstream towards the gold bath taps, relaxing