Caring for the NHS

Submitted by AWL on 1 May, 2019 - 11:29 Author: Simon Nelson
NHS demo

Mark Thomas’ show Check Up: Our NHS at 70 is a whistle-stop and funny tour of what is wrong with underfunding, short staffing and the creeping privatisation of the NHS.

In some ways this is Mark Thomas at his softest, and probably on a topic on which he is on very safe ground.

But the takeaway message is that inequality, low incomes, poor housing, cuts to social care and local authority services have all combined with the dismantling of the NHS to make the health outcomes for the poorest significantly worse.

In Kensington and Chelsea, the residents around the Grenfell tower had a life expectancy 22 years lower than those just down in the road, within the same London Borough, who in theory had access to the same services.

Thomas has done some serious research for this show. He spent several days working with different teams in an NHS trust, from A&E to a dementia ward, and interviewed a range of people from former Health Minister Frank Dobson to the current Chief Medical Officer for England.

We only get short snippets of the interviews — including Frank Dobson saying his greatest regret is PFI (a bit late!). Thomas moves along at a roaring pace, getting through a huge amount of material in 70 minutes.

He is largely preaching to the converted, and for a comedy show this is light on jokes, but his enthusiasm for the NHS is infectious, much like the diseases the antibiotics we are all taking will soon fail to cure.

• Mark Thomas: Check-Up — Our NHS @ 70 is on until 4 May at Battersea Arts Centre

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