Do we actually still have a National Health Service as most of us think we know it?

I had to attend an Accident and Emergency Department in London the other day.

It was predictably chaotic, depressing and shabby around the edges.

The frontline staff did their best even if the receptionists needed a little crash course in empathy.

But in the long hours we waited without hope of seeing anyone who could make a diagnosis I was struck by how many people I saw who appeared to work for private companies judging by the logos on their uniforms.

We shouldn’t be surprised by this I suppose.

The NHS for decades has been a little like one of those lame impalas at the back of the herd that get slowly picked off by the hyena pack while David Attenborough narrates.

From the early 1990s when the Tories introduced the “internal market”, through New Labour’s “foundation trusts” to the current bewildering array of bodies which are supposed to be commissioning or supplying or monitoring, the fiddle faddling with the NHS has been endless.

Add in a pile of private consultants and highly paid administrators hopping from one post to the next and instability is the result.

With all this complicated change it is no wonder the rest of us no longer really understand what our NHS actually is about.

So we won’t know, as I didn’t until recently, that actually our hospitals are under no obligation to provide particular services.

Others, designated Commissioner Requested Services (CRS), must be but only for a specific period.

These CRS run out in April next year so theoretically, although unlikely, a hospital could abandon expensive heart surgery in favour of lucrative private plastic surgery.

Here’s where it gets even murkier because to prepare for that date the monitoring body (called, wait for it, Monitor) has said the groups (CCGs, sorry) who buy services from the trusts should list which services they deem essential but only on the basis that the trusts “could financially fail”.

In other words only the really vital services should be included on the list. Even Monitor says the number of CRS (remember them) would decrease as a result of this exercise.

I know it’s hard to get your head around but in effect hospital trusts will be allowed to provide less traditional services (ie one we pay our taxes for) in favour of more money yielding (and less vital) services.

This is where Brighton Pavilions MP Caroline Lucas comes in.

In March she is piloting a Private Members Bill through the House of Commons which seeks to reverse this process and attempts to end the “marketisation” of the NHS.

The Argus has never taken political sides, indeed all governments are responsible for where we are now, but it is very hard indeed not to wish Ms Lucas every success with her bill.

The Argus: Westdene Primary School perform carols at the Grand hotel's Christmas lights switch on

I don’t think I’m Scrooge but I am a sufferer of Too Early Christmas Syndrome (TECS).

I just can’t bear the long run in. I was in a Pizza Express THREE weeks ago and they were playing Chestnuts Roasting on An Open Fire.

In the greatest Christmas film of all time – It’s A Wonderful Life – James Stewart and his family don’t start decorating the Christmas Tree until he comes home from work on Christmas Eve. It’s how it should be.

Three sublime days and then move on. By the time most of us get to the day itself it’s bound to be an anti-climax. Take it from a TECS sufferer. Let the thing creep up on you.