Letter: Worrying symptoms

Sir: Before unveiling a major expansion of NHS Direct (report, 8 December) Tony Blair might have considered rather more carefully the likely effects. In Jerome K Jerome's Three Men in a Boat the narrator casually visits the British Museum to read up the "treatment for some slight ailment of which I had a touch - hay fever I fancy it was". He begins "idly to study diseases generally. I had walked into that reading room a happy, healthy man. I crawled out a decrepit wreck."

J L BOND

Wigton, Cumbria

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