Going private

AA Gill's hernia
Why is it that private hospitals are convinced that their role models should be provincial businessmen’s hotels? As if these were the institutions that inspired a national sense of trust, care and expertise. Imagine saying, “I’ve just had my hips replaced on a Radisson International Discount Break.” Or, “My varicose veins were killing me, until my night with tea and coffee facilities,ensuite and spa access”; “I get all my collagen and nipple-lifting needs at Holiday Inn.”

As you check in, everyone asks how you are, which is an annoyingly asinine question in a hospital. You tell me, mate. I signed in and left my credit card for its own private liposuction. Instead of a porter, you get a management trainee, a lad with a dreadful suit, a corporate tie and either a surfeit of gel or afterbirth in his hair. Somebody really should open a private hospital that looks like a hospital, a proper great monumental Victorian temple to hypochondria, with nurses in starched wimples, doctors with beards, the smell of carbolic, polished brass, ladies with lamps and Salvation Army choirs. That’s what you want when you’re dying, a sense of drama and occasion, not some quietly seedy, partitioned, pastel, middle-management knocking shop.