Belfast Telegraph

Only a fool could think Conservatives want to do away with the NHS

The health service cannot be allowed to face grave crises when it's overburdened or, worse, to fall by the wayside and disappear

By Chris Moncrieff

Horror stories seem to be emerging on an almost daily basis about the problems facing the National Health Service. The latest of these was that of the elderly woman who requested an ambulance because she was suffering from chest pains, but by the time paramedics arrived, some three hours later, the poor woman was dead and incapable of being resuscitated.

On top of all this are the cancellations and postponements of thousands of operations, plus regular reports about horrendously long waits by patients attending A&E departments.

None of this is the fault of the NHS, which is horribly overworked. The Prime Minister has announced more money for the NHS, but one-off boosters are not enough.

Something extra has to be done to ensure the service is not automatically subject to these grave crises at 'peak periods', usually around Christmas and the new year.

I can see no other way than to go straight to the pockets of the taxpayer and increase the National Insurance payments.

The NHS is the most precious thing that we have and it cannot be allowed to wither and die. Its creation is probably the greatest domestic political achievement since the war.

And suggestions that the Tories would want to let the NHS - the envy of the world - run down and disappear are, of course, bunkum.

I can think of nothing more likely to lose an election than to lose the NHS.

Once again, it seems, there is one law for Members of Parliament and another for the rest of us.

A leaked draft report is suggesting, among other things, that sex-pest MPs could be let off simply - so long as they apologise for their actions. This "privilege" does not seem available to the rest of us.

You could powerfully argue that this could be a charter for sexual harassment if all you had to do to get away with it was to say "sorry".

We can only trust that when this draft document officially appears in its final form, this easy get-out for our legislators will have been excised.

This is all-too-reminiscent of the MPs expenses scandal of 2009, where those who flagrantly spent taxpayers' money for their own personal benefit - sometimes by blatant lying to the authorities - escaped punishment simply by waving a fat cheque at TV cameras, accompanied by a promise to repay their ill-gotten gains.

Embezzlers outside Westminster have never enjoyed such an escape clause.

It now looks as though serious consideration is being given in Washington to President Donald Trump's state of mental health.

Even by his own spectacularly bizarre standards, it certainly seems a little odd - to put it at its mildest - to describe yourself as a "stable genius".

One is forced to wonder more and more how this character managed to win his way into the White House. Admittedly, the Democrats put up a pretty feeble candidate in Hillary Clinton.

He is the man who leads the free world, but Americans (and others) must be teetering with increasing nervousness at his often rash actions and bellicose comments.

An explosive new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, which is selling like hot cakes in America, paints a picture of the president as impatient, unable to grasp policy and prone to rambling and repeating himself. The author, Michael Wolff, suggests that even the president's closest advisers question his fitness for office.

The fallout from the book loomed over a meeting at Camp David at the weekend - a gathering of key Republicans designed to thrash out legislative priorities for 2018.

Speaking to reporters after meeting with senior party members on Saturday, the president disputed Mr Wolff's account, claiming it was a "work of fiction".

Addressing the questions about his mental capacity, he said: "I went to the best colleges, I had a situation where I was a very excellent student, came out and made billions and billions of dollars, became one of the top business people, went to television and for 10 years was a tremendous success, as you probably have heard."

He disputed Mr Wolff's claim of a three-hour, on-the-record interview between the two. "It didn't exist, it's in his imagination," Mr Trump said, while acknowledging that he had been interviewed by the author at some point.

Fire and Fury went on sale early last Friday, days ahead of its scheduled release, amid the president's lawyers' attempts to block its publication. It has become an instant bestseller.

The book describes a Trump team shocked by their own win on election night and senior administration officials calling Mr Trump an "idiot". It has also sparked a public rift between Mr Trump and his former aide, Steve Bannon, who is quoted as accusing Mr Trump's eldest son, Donald Jnr, of "treasonous" behaviour in meeting a group of Russians.

Belfast Telegraph

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