While the Commons last week debated the bill to purge the hereditary peers, and Labour MP Dr Howard Stoate was fighting off pleas from male colleagues for Viagra prescriptions (name them, demanded Teresa Gorman), the Lords quietly staged their annual debate on the NHS. What a rich mix of fascinating fact, dodgy opinion and probing questions, I thought. Here are a few:
'The public's view of the NHS brand is almost always based on personal experience of, or contact with, someone who has had first-hand experience. It follows, therefore, that the reputation of the entire NHS rests on the shoulders of each individual nurse, every GP, ambulance driver and hospital porter... The 1 million or so people, therefore, who work for the NHS are its ambassadors.'
Lord Chadlington (Con), top PR man
'For most people, their experience of the NHS is about their family doctor, the school nurses, health visitor... In 1945 the average length of stay in hospital was 45 days; now it is less than seven days because of the increase in day surgery and other forms of swifter treatment.'
Baroness Pitkeathley (Lab), ex-National Carers Association
'The government's habit of attacking NHS managers is bad for morale. Soundbites such as 'heads will roll' simply induce despondence. This is not the way to manage a hard-pressed workforce.'
Lord McColl (Con), ex-surgeon
'I was telephoned by a doctor from south Lincolnshire. He was concerned that, because there was no 24-hour paediatric cover in the hospital at Grantham, the maternity unit had closed. Should children contract meningitis they would have to travel long distances for treatment. One of the doctor's own children had contracted meningitis: he knows that every second counts.'
Baroness Masham (Con), wheelchair user, health board member
'We are also facing a failure of specialists training as never before. The Calman reforms added to that. Trying to get into line with Europe in terms of medical training has meant a reduction of specialist training in this country. We are perilously close to training consultants who are of inadequate experience... that is a potential disaster for the health service.'
Lord Winston (Lab), doctor and research pioneer
'I accept that GP fundholding produced improved healthcare and quicker access to hospital in many middle-class areas... But I used to contrast my own experience as a patient of a fundholding doctor with the many people I saw in the East End (where) there were few fundholders accessing the extra resources. The primary care services were underfunded and overloaded with the resulting, unavoidable but inappropriate use of hospital services.'
Lord Warner, ex-government adviser
'Among the more advanced countries, only Denmark manages to get away with as little (health spending) as we do in the UK (6.9 per cent of GDP). What does Denmark do that we do not? I believe that the answer is that what Denmark achieves better than we and many countries do is 'joined- up thinking' in relation to health. That is to say, health, housing, jobs, education are seen to be interlinked.'
'Inner London receives£338 per resident over 65, Dorset receives£175... those figures mean that fewer old people in rural areas receive the equivalent help... that must mean that the NHS carries a large part of the burden, which may be unnecessary and unjustified.'
Baroness Byford (Con)
'Every time a commercial management publicly fights for the rights of its company - sometimes against unjust press comment - the employees rally behind it and fight too. They want a management that fights on their behalf. I suspect that those 1 million or so working in the NHS would also feel the same way.'