Strength in Numbers dedicated to my late mother Kay

London 2012 opening ceremony: The night that set back NHS reform for years

The rest of the world may have been perplexed, but it was 20 minutes that made Britain feel better about itself. The dancing doctors, the nurses in their old-fashioned uniforms, the cute children bouncing on 300 luminous beds that spelt out those sacred three letters: NHS.

What else could have symbolised Britain at its best than Danny Boyle’s tribute to the health service in his breathtaking Olympic opening ceremony?

Amid the dark satanic mills and pogoing punks, here was a special moment to give thanks and praise to something British that we deem the envy of the world.

After all, our doctors are deities and the National Health Service is sacrosanct — the one arm of the State beyond criticism. There was even a salute to Great Ormond Street Hospital, which has a unique place in the nation’s affections.

So who could quibble with Danny Boyle’s declamation after his opening night triumph that everyone in Britain loves the NHS? ‘It is something that is very dear to people’s hearts,’ he said. ‘It is an amazing thing to celebrate.’

If only, in my view, that were true.

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