I want to tell you about one of the doctors in our local practice. He was my mother's doctor, and very kind to her. His compassion goes way beyond its professional requirements. He visited her the Friday before she died and came again on the Saturday, even though he was not on call that weekend. He called again to see me the next day, as she had died in the night.
He's the doctor of the Sage's friend in hospital. She had been in for three weeks and had been moved from the Cardiac ward to a general geriatric ward, where she was very unhappy. There is, a couple of miles from here, a wonderful cottage hospital, which is owned by the local Anglican convent but affiliated to the NHS and this would be an ideal place to recuperate, but places are at a premium.
The Sage rang the surgery and asked for the doctor to phone him, which he did. He hadn't known that his patient was in hospital and immediately said he'd go to visit her. The hospital is 19 miles away - he went in the evening. The Sage happened to arrive when he was still there.
He made an appointment with the hospital administrator and asked the Sage to go too, to add weight to his request for a bed to be made available. Together, they arranged it on Monday and she moved in on Tuesday. She is eating more than she has for weeks and is keen to walk and have physiotherapy to prepare her for the move home. She can stay for 2 weeks on the NHS and a third week if she pays - by that time, she'll either be able to manage, with help, or it will be evident that she will need more care.
This doctor still manages somehow to think of his patients as, individually, his responsibility, which is an attitude that the Powers That Be has been steadily discouraging. We've got a very good medical practice here; I like my doctor who knows me surprisingly well, considering that I generally see him every five years or so; you can see a nurse whenever you want to and a doctor within a day. In praising one, I'm not disparaging the others. But I think he is great.