Could you fill in this form first?

For reasons that seem ridiculous a week on, I went to Accident & Emergency in Durham last Thursday.

I did not require one of these.

Sadly, even more ridiculous was the fact that upon arrival, the lady in reception asked me if I would complete a questionnaire.



I wasn't dying, so I said yes, but then I saw the main question:

"Would you recommend this A&E department to your friends and family?"

Well, in principle, yes, I would. It was a perfectly decent A&E department. However, there are the following problems with the question.

1. I live in another city, so this is not very local for my friends. It is even less local for my family. I fear that - even if yours is a tremendous A&E department - the journey from their home towns many miles away would be counter-productive. Recommending it to them could kill them.

2. Why do we have to recommend A&E departments? Surely the whole purpose of the NHS is to make them the same very high standard? If they're competing for recommendations, they're rather defeating their very purpose.

3. Seriously, what the fuck? I came to your A&E department because I thought I had done something very foolish and that there was a chance I could be seriously ill as a consequence. I did not (and should not have to) think about the comparative quality of your A&E service. This is the National Health Service. It is a public health service, and it is national. It should be thoughtlessly equivalent in its quality across the country. I object in the strongest possible terms to the fact that it is now about filling in forms to prove the validity of this system. Anyone with an ounce of humanity and decency can see it, and if Jeremy Hunt thinks this is an even remotely acceptable way to proceed, well he's a bigger Hunt than I thought he was.

Now please let me go home.

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