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A day of reflection on the true value of the NHS's doctors, nurses and carers

The sad death of David Cameron's son Ivan yesterday provoked one of those rare days when normal service stops and people assess what is truly of value.

The sad death of David Cameron's son Ivan yesterday provoked one of those rare days when normal service stops and people assess what is truly of value.


Politicians suspended the routine knockabout of Prime Minister's questions. The Prime Minister spoke movingly about how the loss of a child is a burden no parent should have to bear.

He spoke of David, not of the Right Honourable Member or the Leader of the Opposition.

William Hague responded that the Prime Minister knew as much as anyone the anguish and loss that David Cameron and his family would be feeling and passed on the Camerons' thanks for the personal message of condolence sent by Gordon and Sarah Brown.

He also passed on the family's thanks to the dozens of health professionals who had helped them and Ivan throughout his six years of life. The dash the Camerons made to St Mary's hospital in London yesterday morning was not their first, and despite his debilitating illness they were not expecting it would be their last.

This public expression of thanks for everything the doctors, nurses and carers did throughout Ivan's short life is not one those involved with Ivan would have wanted or sought. They would have wanted his life to continue.

But it was a message that will have resonated with millions around the country and, given the public battering that GPs in particular but many other NHS professionals have suffered over the past couple of years in particular, was a welcome recognition of the care, compassion and skill that most NHS staff bring.

Dr Grumble was unaware of Ivan Cameron's death as he conducted his clinic yesterday. He was somewhat taken aback when patient after patient gave their heartfelt thanks for his help. One patient, whom he'd only seen three times, gave him a bottle of champagne.

'Dr Grumble does not usually get quite so much praise all in one afternoon,' he writes. 'It buoyed Dr Grumble up for his long drive home. And then he heard the news that Ivan Cameron had died. And then it all made sense.'

The jobbing doctor is an unfortunate member of the club no-one wants to join, those parents who have lost a child. He was moved by the Prime Minister's speech, but expresses the hope that he and the ministers around him will take on board the thanks of the Cameron family and recognise properly the value GPs, hospital doctors, nurses and others in the NHS bring to this country.

And stop taking every opportunity to undermine, denigrate and devalue their work.

We can only hope that out of this sadness, ministers take a moment to reflect on how enriched we are as a country by the NHS and those who work within it.

And when that moment is over, begin a rapprochement with the medical profession.

Pulse team blog

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