Dear Reader: Economics of madhouse in NHS + Bettys as installation art!

A regular column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

Friday, 24th February 2017, 3:46 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st March 2017, 8:59 am
The Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

After paying taxes for 30 years I’m about to experience the inside of a hospital for the first time as a patient rather than a visitor.

My mum was an NHS nurse for a long time, so I’m feeling okay about the prospect, I think.

That said, the news isn’t doing anything to calm any reservations I may be harbouring.

Bettys in Harrogate under wraps.

In the latest of a series of features in this newspaper, one of my colleagues, Hollie Bone, writes about the scale of the financial crisis facing the NHS and the likely implications for our district.

The latest in a long line of shake-ups is known as STP, (standing for Sustainability and Transformation) which will see Harrogate joining West Yorkshire for the purposes of providing health care.

So clear is the crisis in the health service, even the Daily Mail acknowledged it earlier this week in loud headlines on its front page which revealed that NHS hospitals in England had already lost 15,000 beds in the last six years.

Perhaps the situation has become so serious that politics have been replaced with reality, propaganda with facts?

Bettys in Harrogate under wraps.

Perhaps not.

Last week’s investigation into STPs in this newspaper showed that to achieve a potential saving of a £1 billion in the new NHS Harrogate and West Yorkshire unit, £732 milllion would have to be spent on reorganisation.

It looks like an obvious example of the “economics of the madhouse”, to resort to a phrase popularised by one of Thatcher’s advisors in the 1980s during the crisis over the future of the mining industry.

Perhaps restructuring is now the great British disease?

If you’re feeling in need of a little boost, there’s a lovely place to go in Harrogate - if you happen to have some change in your pocket.

To step into the Imperial Suite upstairs at Bettys is to return to an age of elegance which probably only a small percentage of people sampled at the time.

The Lady Betty Afternoon Teacomes complete with bijoux sandwiches and little cakes, mini-sized scones, smoked salmon and, oh, tea, obviously.

As gorgeous as it all is, it has to be said the view isn’t quite what it was. Bettys is temporarily under wraps right now, its large façade covered in white sheets and scaffolding.

I’m sure most people will be delighted when the repair work on this iconic building is completed in a few weeks time but I quite like its new look.

It makes this bastion of tradition look like a modern art gallery in Bilbao or Berlin.

I was in Hull the other week to see how it’s faring as this year’s City of Culture.

Its main attraction is a cream-coloured art installation piece which dominates the heart of the city like a gigantic, discarded propeller from an aeroplane.

People clearly love it.

Perhaps we should bring back those sheets at Bettys sometime?