Opinion with Christine Tongue: An open letter to Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock

A letter to Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock

Hi Matt

I need a new hip joint. Any ideas where I can get one?

My metal hip has been great for 30 years but it’s nearly worn out and the specialist hospital which deals with complicated joints like mine can’t even do outpatients appointments because of the pandemic.

I’m not an emergency so keeping oldies like me out of London and out of the hospitals is probably a good idea, but I’ve been waiting nine months now for an x-ray to check whether I may become an emergency in the near future. I can’t walk far or climb stairs so life’s getting more limited.

And I know success isn’t guaranteed for any complicated orthopaedic stuff but being able to see a specialist to talk about it would be good!

So, when’s the pandemic going to end? When can we all start using our hospitals again like we used to?

You don’t seem to know! Do you think Boris does?

I saw your boss on telly the other day being interviewed by a very smart local news reporter. Can I take seriously someone who can’t even get his hair cut properly and treated the interviewer to that coy smirk he thinks goes down so well with the ladies? The last time I met someone like that I was 25 and he was a flasher on Victoria St. I smacked him with my umbrella and ran for the police.

Well I can’t run now (see above!)

And another thing. Thanks for the free flu jab, Matt, but why did I have to go a local pharmacy to get it? My GP surgery said they’d run out and didn’t know when they’d get supplies, try a chemist.

So why have the pharmacies got supplies? I was welcomed in like I was a valuable new customer. And I realised eventually that I was! The nice young man jabbed me really well but then proceeded to try to convince me I needed some arthritis medication and to consider their other range of services – like Botox! As he could only see the top of my face (I was wearing my mask) I asked him if my forehead looked really old. We laughed. I really wanted to go by this point but as it was my first flu jab ever he told me he needed an epipen and a defibulator handy in case I went into shock! So I had to wait to see if the jab was going to kill me or not. Not, thank goodness. But I would much rather have been at my GPs where a few doctors might have been around for resus if I had needed it.

I didn’t pay, but as you know, Matt, the NHS pays the pharmacist and he gets what he hopes is a new customer. Sneaky slipping of services into the private sector, I think. What’s your thinking Matt?

Is it like Test and Trace? Which isn’t done at all by my GP. Why not? You seem to prefer some company that has a bad record for most of what it does and has completely messed up organising covid testing. My friend was told to take her small children to Dover, other people have reported how empty Manston testing centre is. I wouldn’t know as I’d have to take three buses or an expensive taxi to get there. And who wants to get a bus when you might have the plague?

It feels like you don’t really care if I get it. And if I do, whether I survive or not.

So I go back to my main question: when’s my new hip joint coming? And a supplementary – why are you trying to kill me?

All the best


PS not so long ago you promised to put a load money into our hospitals, and to most people around here the best use would be to save our local stroke unit – remember? You had your pic taken with our two local MPs outside the hospital? Well, here’s the link to the petition to try to save it – it’s to you actually but I’m sure it’s ok if you sign it and try persuade yourself to stop the plans to close it. http://chng.it/sSb46VHpHg

It’s from Save Our NHS in Kent – so please try to.

Christine Tongue is a Broadstairs resident and former Labour Party member. She now does not belong to a political party but does represent disability campaign group Access Thanet


  1. Great article Christine. After the shocking report about William Harvey Hospital yesterday I certainly wouldn’t feel safe going there if i survive the ambulance ride. My mother died there 15 years ago from 3 hospital infections. Things did improve but sadly have deteriorated again. Stay safe and sane!

  2. This is outrageous even by your standards, Christine.
    You got a free flu jab and still complain.
    There’s been a huge demand for the flu jab which is good. You only had to go to a local pharmacist. Why is that such a problem? Absolutely absurd to say that in some way this is privatising of the services. The doctor is paid for doing the flu jabs as well. GPs are not officially NHS employees, they are contracted to the NHS.
    You have in the past wanted a full lockdown, apart from when you go on marches or protests of course, but now want services fully open so you can have your free hip joint. You can’t have it both ways.
    When do you think the pandemic will end? How are Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson supposed to know? When there is a vaccine, hopefully things will improve. This will also be free and you will get it as a priority. The vaccine is being developed by private companies in conjunction with universities. Do you object to this as well?
    People are still acting irresponsibly and that is not helping.
    Of course you have to resort to rudeness by commenting on Boris’s hair? I don’t suppose you would like people to criticise your idol, Jeremy Corbyn for the way he looks?
    And what an idol to have. Someone who took Labour to its worst defeat since 1935. Laughable.
    Your final comment, ‘Why are you trying to kill me? What is this supposed to mean?’

  3. What have our two Thanet MPs to say about this – they are supposed to represent their constituents and have a particularly important duty to help the vulnerable and elderly?
    Where are they hiding?

  4. Excellent article exposing the slide into privatisation by having to go to a chemist & the chaos with the privatised test & track debacle . More money diverted away from the NHS. Hope you get your hip sorted soon

  5. There’s no point asking Matt Hancock anything about the NHS, he’s clueless, like the rest of this Tory government!

  6. Matt Hancock, ever heard of the Nuremberg code of 1947,look it up.
    Ever heard of Thalidomide, look it.

  7. Excellent letter Christine Tongue, I do hope you convince the good folk at the Isle of Thanet News to publish Matt’s reply when it arrives 😀

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