14/10/2011 05:47 BST | Updated 13/12/2011 05:12 GMT

The Poor Health of the National Death Service

BORN under the NHS, but would like to die privately. Lloyd Evans, a columnist for The Spectator, used that description of himself when he was a performance poet. It has stayed with me, as witty truisms often do.

Again disgruntled by its obsession with audience participation, I abandoned Radio 5's Drive yesterday when they went for the patronising ending called 'balance': a cross-section of listeners' texts, twee-ts and other irrelevancies.

There was a time when news editors at the BBC chose to report facts, not opinions. At 61, maybe I'm supposed to be grumpy, although I'd rather not be.

My father died of a heart attack at the same age. I shall overtake him, so to speak, on March 11th next year. I have no fear of death or dying, but would rather follow his way out than spend tedious, bed-sore-ridden days in hospital, awaiting the inevitable.

Mum reached 86, dying at home in her sleep: not for her either the irreversible suffering of cancer or conditions arthritic, dementative or motor neuronal; thankfully.

In no position, therefore, to draw any personal conclusions on how well elderly patients are treated in hospital, I would nevertheless be inclined to pay more attention to the findings of the Care Quality Commission - following unannounced visits by its staff - than those of a news outlet deciding that X happened to Mrs Y in Birmingham, therefore the same must be happening everywhere.

The Health Secretary blames 'failings in nurse leadership'. Presumably he missed the bit about staffing levels on page 13 of the report.

As for compassion and dignity... I reckon we need a National Death Service, providing wards that resemble classy hotels, medical staff to visit home patients daily, and something akin to maternity leave for relatives.

Of course it would be costly, but do we not also have a national system that allows a footballer to be paid the same as 1,000 nurses?

Shabby treatment of the elderly and failings in leadership? Care to look in the mirror, Mr Lansley?

Marcus's recent observations onQuantum Economics, The Citizenship Test, and Read Dating.