Blaise Tapp column

Blaise Tapp
Blaise Tapp

For the past few months I have been walking like Kevin Spacey in the film The Usual Suspects.

But rather than trying to convince the world that I am not a dastardly bogeyman, I am in genuine pain and the awkward walk I have developed to cope with this discomfort leaves me exposed to the accusation that I look like an extra in a Hammer Horror film.

Thankfully, it is unlikely that my unfortunate gait will be permanent or that underpant bearing teenagers will be able to shout ‘the bells, the bells’ at me in future as I am now in the capable hands of the NHS.

While it is reassuring to know that it shouldn’t be long before I am once again able to run to the chippy it is also sobering to think that some within the planet’s greatest public organisation might question whether I am entitled to such vital care.

The historic problem with the lower part of my right peg flared up again in the late summer after an over-enthusiastic session on the dance floor at a friend’s 40th birthday party (I am certain I have never written a more self damning sentence than that one).

Some would argue that this is classed as self inflicted or even the result of a lifestyle choice, which would mean that I would be viewed with deep suspicion by decision makers at one NHS Trust.

Health bosses in parts of Devon are now picking and choosing who they treat following the change in policy which states that very fat people will only be treated if they lose set amount of weight and smokers must have kicked the habit for two months if they are to receive the care they need.

This hard line is justified by the fact that the NHS in that part of the world needs to save millions of pounds and is a decision which has the backing of some. My question would be, where does it stop?

What is to say that in future hospitals won’t turn away a stricken footballer because their injury is deemed to be due to a lifestyle choice or that sufferers of gout - which some argue is the hallmark of a good life - will just have to lump it?

The worrying aspect of this is that if Devon’s approach is deemed to be a success then other hard-up Trusts - there are many - will find it difficult not to follow suit.

Regardless of where you sit on the political spectrum the NHS is one of the truly great things about our country and one of its core qualities is its founding principle of fairness.

We are lucky enough to have free healthcare for all in the UK - that means everyone, regardless of what we think of their lifestyle.