Fiona Duff: I’m never sick of caring NHS

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Over the past couple of weeks there has been a lot of talk about the NHS. As ever, the queues of those waiting to tell tales of woe are almost as long as those waiting for a hip replacement or a gastric band operation.

Of course, an organisation as large as the NHS is going to have its fair share of useless employees and bad management – you only have to look at RBS to realise this isn’t just a public service problem. For years there has been too much management and not enough concentration on the welfare of the actual patients and nurses. Nurses are paid a pitiful amount, yet have to carry out procedures that most of us would like as much as a stab in the eye. Apparently there are 78 tiers of manager advertised online, which is quite mind-blowing.For every level of manager there has to be another looking after them. The amount of waste would make anyone running a small firm have a heart attack, clogging up the system further.

However, amidst the hand wringing and complaining we forget how lucky we are. We take free healthcare for granted, yet the health service is only 65 years old. People retiring now were the first to benefit; before that it was charity and painful, unnecessary deaths. Hands up anyone who has booked an appointment and not turned up? If you were fined for not cancelling, I’d bet you’d call as soon as you felt better, and the rest of us could be seen a bit sooner. I know of people, British born but now living in tax havens, who come to Blighty when they need treatment. They lie in beds fretting that the care will take so long that they might have to fork out some dosh to HMRC. Frankly if you don’t pay tax in the EU, you should cough up (excuse the pun) if you expect an NHS doctor to deal with your problems. I once worked with an American who told me that ten years on she was still repaying the cost of an appendix operation. They know a good thing when it gives them an x-ray gratis.

Why am I so on my high horse about this? Well, the other day I had to take my dog to the vet. Sure enough I got an appointment that day, but after a quick examination and a packet of antibiotics, I had to hand over my card so £45 could be extracted. If we were charged that every time we went to our GP, we’d all take a lot better care of ourselves.

Scenes from an Italian restaurant

So to my final evening in Bar Roma last Thursday – the restaurant is closing – a night that proved that anyone who says Edinburgh folk don’t know how to have fun is talkingrubbish.

The restaurant was rammed with middle-aged folk going doolally. There were even bald men letting their hair down and the wildest woman in Edinburgh was back where she belonged – dancing on a table.

“It should have been like this every night” someone shouted over the cheesy disco music. If it had been like that every night I wouldn’t be here today.

Husband keeps me all kale and hearty

Did you know that allotments are the new rock n roll?

Well, I exaggerate but my husband has one and at this time of year he is a very popular chap indeed – apart from among those friends to whom he insists on showing the size of his beetroots. Which is certainly not as rude as it sounds. What he grows in abundance is kale; a brassica, as those of you with green fingers will know, which is incredibly healthy.

When it comes to super foods, this is the most super of them all and, according to him outdoors, it’s extremely easy to grow.

Once he starts bringing home bags of the leaves my nails get stronger, my skin looks better and I know I am doing something to combat all the unhealthy activities in my lifestyle.

If only I could cut out the alcohol, double cream and red meat I might look a bit like Gwyneth Paltrow.

They ad to be watching me

At a lunch last week a fellow guest started a rant about Facebook, calling it an “insidious” website where people should be wary about disclosing too much information.

I nodded, realising that having shared a link about a slimming treatment, in a blink of an eye the ads down the side suddenly started offering all sorts of ways to lose several stone (with about that much effort involved, naturally).

However, what really was getting him all hot and bothered was how they can use any photos posted for their own commercial gain. I immediately told my cousin, a professional photographer, who had been proudly showing off some amazing images and he promptly removed them.

The next day I was sent a photo taken of me and a friend at a party. It was one of the best photos I have ever seen of me, so I quickly put it on the site. Frankly, if Facebook want to use that image in any way at all, please feel free.