Laurence Fox is right….the NHS is not a religion

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.

One thought on “Laurence Fox is right….the NHS is not a religion

  1. David Preston

    Oh for some sanity!

    At our local NHS hospital staff “ran for the hills” as the virus arrived and refused to come in to work. One local consultant admitted they had killed patients in the first few weeks by giving the wrong treatment. A funeral director told me he went to find a body and there were 30 of them, some lying on the floor of the mortuary. The death rate was 6x that of another hospital 30 miles up the road. We won’t admit that treatments and service are rubbish in parts. Our GP’s have gone missing too. They won’t see anybody. Before the virus came they had a 5 week waiting list to see you. Don’t start me on maternity services. My daughter in law had an elective Caesar at the best teaching hospital in London. There was no nursing care of the name. At night after her op there were no nurses to be seen. There were 3 first time mums in her cubicle. All the babies were crying. There was no food for anyone. The DIL gave the other girls snacks form her bag! (she brought food as she had been there before when they tore her so badly, she has been faecally incontinent ever since – hence the CS). A fat nurse pitched in at 3 am and shouted at the girls “feed the bloody babies and stop them crying” then departed. So the DIL was awake all night trying to explain from her bed how to breastfeed to 3 terrified young girls.

    She went home. Then had a secondary haemorrhage. She bled so badly her wound nearly opened, blood ran down inside both legs to the knee and into her perineum that swelled like a melon. It was so painful she could not sit or lie down. The wonderful teaching centre was rung and they refused to readmit her! Yes, refused. She rang 111 and was admitted to another hospital. No proper investigations were done. She was sent home in pain – which continues 4 months later. No obstetrician has seen her. No GP would visit. Even the community midwives charged with her care refused to visit and tried to manage her by telephone. We were in despair. I wrote a stiff letter to her consultant asking for an explanation. After 7 weeks – no reply. Surprise surprise. I’m now chasing the Chief executive with a complaint. I’m not expecting a reply from him either.

    It was an ideal. I’ve been in it for 40 years and I’m entitled to say it’s finished. Our standards are so far below France and Germany that it’s an embarrassment. The managers are beyond parody. Nothing will save us now but privatisation. We can keep the NHS umbrella, but all services need to be provided by private firms with staff who are accountable for their idleness and mistakes. The NHS can commission and pay them, but we, the customers, must have a say in who we see and when. At present bad doctors, nurses and ancillary staff have a job for life. You would have to rape the Chief executive’s wife to get dismissed. The waste is phenomenal. All the staff involved in the DIL’s care seemed to think the NHS is there for their benefit, rather than the patient’s. No politician has the guts to tell it like it is and prepare us for the change needed. I’m terrified of falling seriously ill. And so should all of you be.

    Liked by 1 person

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