I confess. I have a vice. I should have a dunce's hat placed on my head and be paraded in public before a jeering crowd of the righteous and worthy. I have battled my demons and failed. I am a smoker.
The public, media and political response to the revelation that Lord Freud, in a fringe meeting at Conservative Party conference, suggested that some people with disabilities are not "worth" the minimum wage and perhaps should instead work for as little as £2 an hour, has been fascinating.
If there is a hope, then perhaps it lies in a gentle sea breeze blowing westward from Clacton. A remarkable coincidence occurred last week on the train on the way back up to my constituency, sitting next to a colleague for whom I have enormous respect and discussing UKIP's potential amongst the working class forgotten by our political elite.
This morning, I was in Guy's hospital getting my blood taken. In the pleasantly clean and warm hospital, I waited along with my fellow patients to be served. The Guy's team has devised a way to prevent the testing queue descending into the budget airline scramble for the best seats of yore. In an ode to efficiency, they used a cheese counter-like ticket machine to give everyone a number. You pick it and you get called. At least it should be that simple.
Breast Cancer Care recently surveyed women and men affected by secondary breast cancer, which cannot be cured. We wanted to establish if they were in pain because of the side effects of their cancer and treatment. Shockingly, we found that 90% of them were, many of them on a near daily basis.
Yet patients, and that is you and me, are supposed to be at the heart of every GP consultation. We GPs are repeatedly urged to put the patient's wishes above everything else. So why has no one ever asked patients' what those wishes actually are?
Addiction is a fundamental part of the human condition. People are addicted to all kinds of things, not just drugs and alcohol. Addiction means you keep doing something although you know it's harmful. It may rob you of choice and appear irrational to others, but addiction becomes your sole purpose in life.
After our hyper political season with the party conferences, one of the big questions was how to lower waiting times for mental health in our NHS which has only been answered by one party; The Liberal Democrats.
Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are scrabbling over the title as the most trusted party on the NHS, and for good reason. Polling has shown that the NHS, always high on the list of issues most important to the electorate, is likely to be priority number one come election day. Don't expect the noise around the NHS to abate anytime soon...
Midwives saw their pay frozen back in 2011, frozen again in 2012, before it rose 1% in 2013. If the typical midwife's pay had risen in line with prices since 2010, she or he would be paid over £4,000 more per year than they're actually getting. Despite that deep fall in their standard of living, what midwives and others are asking for to resolve this dispute is not a king's ransom; they are asking for just a 1% rise.
Labour has made the assumption that a business operating for profit has no morals and lacks the impetus to support the community in which they operate, unless for PR gain. Yet I'm a strong believer of 'doing well by doing good' and I know I'm not alone among commercial business owners.
Welsh Labour have labelled our calls for a Keogh-style Inquiry as "politically motivated." How can it be politically motivated to give patients and people the chance to have their say alongside those of our health professionals?
Much debate is currently underway, fuelled by the press, amongst politicians of every hue, on the future of the NHS...
This cancer kills most people it strikes, often with devastating speed. While around 85% of breast and prostate cancer patients are still alive five years after diagnosis, just 20% survive as long with this cancer. Barely half survive just three years.
Why do I love the NHS so much? Well the answer is obvious, it saved my life and it will have almost undoubtedly helped you at some point or another (we were all born once remember!) The NHS is a lifesaver, and I owe everything to it.
It's good news that crime is falling and our cities, towns and neighbourhoods are becoming safer. But there is much more to be done. It is alarming to see that the very people we depend on are being beaten up just for doing their job. They need to be treated with respect.