Even here, in the Soviet-style behemoth that is “our NHS”, choice can no longer be taken for granted. There is a defiant reluctance among GPs to go back to seeing patients in person. Many hospital appointments are still online. Hopes that patients could start to enjoy the comforting old normal are dashed by an arrogant, unfeeling bureaucracy which puts its own health first.
“There are no immediate changes to IPC (infection, prevention and control) requirements,” says an ominous letter to clinical staff from NHS England. I am told that masks are so embedded in NHS behaviour that we will probably never again see a nurse’s smile.