Lethal White and NHS: Rowling Speaks

The fourth Cormoran Strike novel, Lethal White, included as an almost continuous backdrop references to the NHS in character names, the Olympics opening ceremony, hospital visits, long lines, and private medical care. I discussed this in Lethal White: Ghosts of Aneurin Bevan? Lorelei Bevan, Dodgy Doc, and the NHS’ and concluded that Rowling was presenting the glorious NHS as a socialist project in a state of near collapse.

Today Rowling released the following statement to The Daily Mail in support of their holiday program that signs up citizen volunteers to work in NHS hospitals, ‘Harry Potter Author J. K. Rowling Supports Daily Mail Christmas NHS Volunteer Campaign’:

 ‘The NHS is one of our country’s most cherished institutions, one that we can truly be proud of.

‘Despite the constant pressures and constraints, it never ceases to amaze me just how much work and time all those involved dedicate to continuing to make this organisation function, let alone excel.

‘And now, a new army of volunteers have stepped forward. The thousands who are giving up their time to help the NHS through the Helpforce campaign should be applauded.’

I suspect some readers will think this statement of support for the NHS proves I was wrong about what Galbraith’s portrayal of the NHS in Lethal White reflects about the “cherished institution.” I think she couldn’t have said anything that more clearly underlines my suggestion that the author, while admiring the dream of NHS founders and workers, acknowledges that it is a failed dream in many respects. Read the whole article for the reasons the volunteers are needed and for the problems the NHS cannot address with ‘civilian’ help. Not enough medical staff and not enough beds…

Let me know if and why you agree or disagree by clicking on the ‘Leave a Comment’ link up by the post headline. I look forward to reading your thoughts.


  1. Forrest Leeson says

    Deliberately underfunded*, deliberately bureaucratized, and deliberately privatized, the NHS can’t strictly be described as in a state of socialist collapse, nor as failed.
    See, e.g., https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/apr/25/why-im-stepping-down-as-nhs-gp and http://sideshow.me.uk/sjun09.htm#06121752

    (* One might say that, for example, the £789 million spent on the Millennium Dome would have been better spent on the NHS. Except of course that the UK is a fiat system that taxes to maintain the value of its currency and can fund anything it likes within reason, though its politicians, including New Labour, pretend otherwise.)

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