Today is Remembrance Day. At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we remember those who shall grow not old, those who age shall not weary, for they died in the service of their country.
Today we also learned of yet more health service failings, of suffering and death; of lessons unlearnt, and lamentable failures, among older patients undergoing surgery; older patients, a few of whom no doubt fought in Flanders and other fields, and lived, only to be deserted in their late hour of need by the country they had served.
Such findings offend not only the Military Covenant; they are also part of a wider picture of health service failings. From babies dying in Bristol on altars of arrogance, through ignored excess deaths in Stafford, to the death march of the Diamorphine Queen in Gosport, the NHS has its own share of blood on its hands.
And yet, as we remember all those who died in Flanders and other fields, we all too often forget those who suffer and die not at the hands of war, but who suffer and die closer to home, in the theatres and wards of our hospitals.
There are those who prefer a white poppy of peace to the blood red poppy of Flanders field. Perhaps, Dr No sometimes wonders, we need a black poppy, to remember all those who suffer and die unnecessarily at the hands of the NHS.