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Chairlift polemics

Editor Sue McNulty has been skiing - but it's not been all play

I've just been skiing with my husband and 65-year-old father-in-law (F-I-L) whose age incidentally now qualifies him for a 20 per cent discount on his ski pass.

Both beat me down every slope and we had some fab chairlift conversations.

On one ascent the emergency helicopter flies past. ‘Here they come to earn their caviar for the year', says F-I-L.

On the drive home we see a private ambulance. ‘Guess that's a broken ankle in there' says F-I-L before reminiscing about his friend who had the same ‘treatment' years ago. He was accompanied to the airport by a nurse and driver – both wearing a white uniform for effect apparently- who then watched him hobble to the check-in desk.

On another day F-I-L tells me how his private consultants at home always say ‘best come see me again in a month's time to see how you are' even when no diagnosis has actually been made.

‘I don't go because I know they just want the two hundred quid for seeing me again' he says.

Note, F-I-L tells me the follow-up costs £200 – not the other way round.

The point I'm making is that F-I-L has a real sense of healthcare costs; he's been private for years and seen premiums change.

It's always a bit of a struggle to explain to friends and family – F-I-L not included - what I write about.

I like to ask them how much they think things cost in the NHS such as:

A visit to your GP (£28), a call to NHS Direct (between £16- £25) turning up at A&E (triple figures), MRI scan (anything from £400 to 10 times that amount).

Most answers to my ‘quiz' are way off and expletives usually follow when they learn NHS Direct costs the same as a GP visit.

Time for a people's tariff me thinks.