With wearying predictability and the usual deliberate failure to respond to what was actually said, the wokerati have piled onto Laurence Fox again. His crime? To refer to the NHS as not being a church and its staff not being his saviours.
Well said, Laurence, mate. I totally agree. Shame that Piers Morgan can’t address your actual point instead of what he wishes your point had been. But hey, that’s the way the wokerati function – criticise what you think was said rather than what was. Then you don’t have to answer, like, difficult questions, like.
I have been saying the same thing as Laurence, albeit in a different way, all of this year. The rush of many to adopt the NHS as a modern-day god-on-earth has been in train for many years. But the Great Sacred Cow (apologies to any Hindu readers who may be offended, although I’m not actually referring to a real cow) was perhaps given the boost it needed to achieve its apotheosis with Danny Boyle’s over-the-top ‘celebration’ of it at the opening of the London Olympics in 2012. Since then, it has been virtually impossible to criticise this megalithic, overspending, target-chasing, management-breeding club.
What started out with all the good will in the world as a ‘cradle to grave’ healthcare provider has become a vast monument to past hopes. The NHS has more money thrown at it today than ever, yet all we see in the community is cut, cut and cut. No amount of cash will ever suffice to fill its hungry maw. Where does it all go? Tried seeing a GP, even prior to Covid? Tried getting to see a specialist in less than 6 months or more? Tried to get treatment in an A&E department at a busy time? Had your sense of decency and privacy obliterated in an overcrowded clinic?
Last month, a dear friend of mine called 999 as his wife lay unconscious and not breathing at the roadside – passersby began CPR but it took 30 minutes for an ambulance to get to them. It staggers me what you need to have wrong with you in order to get an ambulance bowling your way, but surely ‘unconscious and not breathing’ must be pretty much as bad as it gets? The poor lady died.
However, leaving aside the many failings, let’s also consider the NHS’s strengths too. My elderly Dad has been a frequent guest of the NHS since his retirement over twenty years ago. Bowel cancer, surgery and chemo – tick. Quadruple by-pass, tick. Two pacemakers, tick. Other odds and ends requiring in-patient status, tick. All good, and well done NHS. This is what we all want to pay for. But what about all the rest of it?
During Covid we have seen the NHS held up like a Madonna whose feet are to be kissed as she passes before the adoring masses. Not only this, we now have the canonisation of its staff. I don’t think anyone can or should downplay the value of the NHS’s staff, but to listen to the media, you would think our assorted doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants, secretaries, cleaners and the rest were all daily facing The Great Plague and fighting off armies of pathogens every second of their shift. These stalwarts are no longer just getting on with their jobs, they have been given sanctified status. They too have become Sacred Cows.
Listening to neighbours on my street, I have heard several referring to their Nurse siblings or grandkids as ‘being on the frontline’ and having ‘PTSD’ over what they have seen. One neighbour told me about her 20-year old grand-daughter who is doing a 12-month apprenticeship in healthcare (whatever that is). Apparently this young woman was put to work in the local Intensive Care Unit and couldn’t cope – because people kept on dying. Well I’m sorry to break it to you, but in ICUs, people tend to die more often than they do on the wards. And that’s apart from the fact that a busy hospital is apparently using apprentices in the ICU unit in the first place – if this is true, it needs an investigation. If not true, which I suspect, the story certainly enables relatives to bask in the reflected glory of ‘being on the frontline’ and having ‘PTSD”.
Another neighbour has a relative who is in her late 20s and works as an NHS doctor. She is so ‘traumatised’ over Covid that she is considering giving up medicine. How about considering she’s simply not up to the job?
Other neighbours (I have a lot) have relatives who work in private hospitals – which were emptied out of the paying public in April to take up the onslaught of Covid patients about to overflow from the under-seige NHS. The onslaught never happened. One of these nurses had ONE Covid patient over the entire summer. All other beds were kept empty. Thus denying other people with medical needs their own treatment.
I too was once a nurse in the NHS. I trained at Leeds General Infirmary, back in the day. The training was excellent. We were taught how to handle terrible events and the horrors of accidents, major incidents and all the rest of the traumas inherent in the work of a busy regional hospital. None of us developed PTSD. None of us had nervous breakdowns. We cried over patients, we hugged each other, we talked it out. We didn’t get counselling, we didn’t get time off for stress. We just did the job. We certainly cried with exhaustion occasionally, but not over ‘stress’. The long night shifts, the endless lifting of heavy patients (which no longer happens), the no-break day shifts, the outbreaks of infections, the barrier nursing, the reverse barrier nursing, the physical exhaustion. The awful sights in A&E. The deaths, the deaths that wouldn’t come. But that was our job. We just did it.
Yes, NHS work on the wards is tough. But it ain’t as tough as it was, believe me. Yes, our NHS staff deserve applause – but they don’t deserve to be granted sainthood. It’s a job, not a vocation. You can check out whenever you like.
For me, PTSD is for soldiers who have had limbs blown off, or emergency workers who have seen unimaginable carnage on the roads, or similar, or for the victims of horrific crimes. PTSD as a result of working in an ICU or on an NHS ward – no way. The media hype that drives this ‘narrative’ is going to turn into an own goal. At what point will the NHS and its staff be recognised as human and fallible? How long can you continue to treat an institution and its staff as beyond criticism? Because it does need criticism, as well as plaudits.
Our government needs to take a long hard look at what it has done to the country in pursuit of protecting The Great Sacred Cow. All those empty Nightingale hospitals, all those ventilators lying idle. Not enough staff trained in their use anyway. Empty private hospitals, all other patients left hanging in favour of Covid patients.
Has it been worth it? As Laurence Fox said, quite rightly, if the NHS can’t deal with an infection that has a very high survival rate, then it is, arguably, not fit for purpose.
In anticipation of those who will wish to decry my views – here’s a thought. I teach biosecurity for a living. I work on the prevention of biological and chemical weapons. In some pretty challenging places around the world. If you see me running, try to keep up. But here’s thing – here in the UK, I ain’t running.