That mammoth, catch-up blog post I’ve been promising you all is underway, but has been somewhat delayed by the fact that – as you’ll know if you follow my bleeding heart Tweets – I’ve spent the last week in quarantine (i.e. under a duvet) with suspected swine flu.
I’m much better today and spent several hours on my favourite Monday afternoon activity of cooking to Radio 4, during which the following question occurred to me: does the BBC’s aspiration toward impartiality now demand that on the rare occasions they broadcast good news, they must follow it up with a statement that the Tories do not believe it to be good news?
I’m referring to the National Pandemic Flu Service. Andy Burnham announced today that this service will be available from later on this week to take some of the pressure off the health service. And every time the Radio 4 newsreaders announced this, they added “…but the Conservatives believe this should have been done last month.”
For goodness’ sake. The new service is surely a welcome addition, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with the provision the health service has had in place since swine flu first hit. When I started to feel unwell I read up on the swine flu symptoms on the NHS Direct website; went through their online symptom checker; and one of their nurses called me just a few hours later. She advised me how to treat my symptoms and what to do if I developed any more; gave me a rough prognosis of how long the infection was likely to last; and answered all my questions about how worried my housemate should be about catching it. (Apparently the virus dies in about twenty minutes on soft surfaces like clothes but can live for up to 24 hours on hard surfaces in the kitchen.)
When I developed a fever I called my GP’s surgery; the doctor called back within the hour and took details of my symptoms over the ‘phone; then he prescribed me Tamiflu and said my ‘flu friend’ (step up, long-suffering housemate) would need to come into the surgery to collect a voucher, then go to Ardwick to swap voucher for anti-virals. Housemate duly went. I gave him my bank statement for ID and some money for the prescription charge – he needed the first but not the second, since apparently I’d somehow failed to realise that Tamiflu is free.
And after that, I stayed at home, took a Tamiflu every 12 hours, and waited to get better. And then I got better. I realise I have a lot of advantages in this situation – relative health, internet access, a helpful housemate, an understanding employer – but really, I fail to see how the health service could be reacting any better than it is. It sounds to me as though the new service will allow GPs and their staff to spend less time on the ‘phone to feverish people and more time dealing with people who don’t have swine flu. And the Tories’ carping sounds as weak and pointless as ever.
On another note – while incarcerated on my sofa, although I could rarely manage to sit up long enough to use my laptop I did manage to keep up my near-incessant tweeting thanks to the Blackberry; and so it was largely my fellow Twitter enthusiasts who prevented me shrivelling away from boredom. I’d therefore like to mention a few of them, for various reasons…
…first, there’s a Tweeter called @BevaniteEllie. As you can tell from her username she and I have a lot in common politically (we like Harriet, we don’t like Hazel, we have a confused and tumultuous relationship with Polly Toynbee and we believe in Labour Heaven) and she’s very funny. Unfortunately, due to a hacker – or something: no-one is quite sure why this has happened – her Twitter account has been suspended. It’s criminal. I’m sure she’ll be back soon with a new account, but in the meantime have a look at her blog, it’s a good read. (And it’s called The Stilettoed Socialist, hence the title of this post. I’m not a fan of such shoes, but I am a fan of squashing Tory trolls with them.)
Leading the ‘Free BevaniteEllie’ campaign is another prolific Tweeter, already on my blogroll – Cllr Tim Cheetham. I mention him only because his most recent blog post is particularly stellar and you should go and read it.
And finally, new to Twitter and the blogosphere is the Political Scrapbook (@psbook), currently leading with a frankly bizarre video of Iain Dale. Goodness me, that man is annoying. More of this please, Scrapbooker 🙂
Anyway, I’m back to work tomorrow so I should probably go and get some sleep. Night-night, don’t let the swinebugs bite. And free BevaniteEllie!!