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Together in life, now together in death

A man discovers the forgotten ghosts of NHS-past in a deserted churchyard.

He walked through the grounds of the small church. It was a secluded, out of the way place which people rarely visited.

On a bright day when the mist had peeled back off the landscape there was a clear view of the neighbouring town and of the green and brown patchwork quilt of surrounding countryside.

The outer wall to the church grounds was guarded with intricate iron railings, bell heather and thistle. Nature, with her wind sighing through the birch trees provided a palpable hush of reverence and everywhere there was evidence of the slow creep of time. It seemed to ooze through the pores of reality like spreading honey.

He ran his hands along the cold rough stone of the church wall and glanced inside. Through the musty echo he could make out the altar pieces and the solemn Christ cast in silver.

The grounds to the graveyard were poorly tended and were interspersed with thick clumps of marram and wild grass. The headstones which were arranged concentrically like broken incisors were roughened with blue-green lichen and their names were smoothed almost completely away with the rain.

He had never read them before but he now noticed that they had all died in infancy. None of them had lived past the age of 5. He wasn't sure what epidemic had caused this.

He wiped back some of the growth and read 'In loving memory of Lord Darzi', and next to it some initials 'Here lies MTAS who passed away suddenly', 'Summary care record: who died in early infancy in his mother's arms', 'Revalidation: Died shortly before christening' and buried next to each other in two small urns was 'Strategic health authorities and primary care trusts, together in life and now together in death'. The graves went on and on.

As he was leaving he noticed a grave digger, busy with a fresh grave. He didn't wait stay to see who or what was being buried. He had seen enough; he left behind this silent graveyard of ideas.

Written in response to Copperfield's blog: Never a dull moment

Dr Kevin Hinkley is a GP in Aberdeen

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