The Plastic Hippo

December 18, 2013

Eight days a week

Filed under: Health,Media,Politics,Rights,Society — theplastichippo @ 3:36 am
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Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director of the NHS and Medical Director of the NHS Commissioning Board, is undoubtedly a very clever man. The former cardiac surgeon has undertaken a thorough, detailed examination of hospital mortality rates at weekends and has diagnosed that consultants need to work seven days a week. Funny that; I thought the NHS already worked seven days a week.

Sir Bruce might believe that consultants still spend the majority of their time playing golf only to occasionally descend upon a hospital in the form of James Robertson Justice to shout at and belittle junior housemen. The reality, however, is rather different and it does not require a god-like consultant to diagnose that a drunk with a pint glass embedded in his noggin on a Saturday night is not very well. Interestingly, the Medical Director of the NHS and its Commissioning Director had previously decided that industrial grade silicone in breast implants was no more dangerous than medical grade silicone in breast implants even though the industrial enhancements are far more likely to burst causing untold damage to health. The French courts disagree but that is not a matter for the NHS.

It is entirely coincidental that some NHS senior executives now joining in the chorus of disapproval aimed at the organisation that provides them with vast salaries, expenses and pensions might not have the best interests of patients at heart or be in procession of a CV that qualifies them to run anything other than a travelling medicine show. Take Sir David Nicholson for example. Gaining a degree in History and Politics from Bristol Polytechnic is the perfect knowledge base to implement the disastrous “Care in the Community” initiative that left people with disabilities and long-term illness to fend for themselves under the Conservative government in the 1980`s.

Nicholson moved on to become the Chief Executive of the West Midlands Strategic Health Authority and was head honcho during the Mid Staffordshire catastrophe. After facilitating health care and clinical need based on accountancy, bullying and political dogma, he denied any culpability for the unnecessary deaths and ran away from responsibility to be promoted to Chief Executive NHS England a few months after the coalition assumed power. I`m sure that Jeremy Hunt likes Sir David for helping to him sack nurses, close hospitals and impose a wage freeze for health care professionals and probably feels that Nicholson`s £200,000 plus salary and £50,000 a year expenses and £37,600 benefits in kind are a small price to pay for dismantling the greatest achievement made by any government, anytime, anywhere.

NHS senior managers and the politicians at the Department of Health tell us it is best not to dwell on the past and concentrate instead on the future, their own future`s in particular. Nicholson will retire from his post in March 2014 and will no doubt enjoy a lucrative and not very taxing retirement as a director on the boards of predatory private companies like Atos, Serco, Circle and Virgin. A year and a bit later he will probably be joined by Jeremy Hunt and the other front bench profiteers currently securing their own financial security by destroying the state from within.

To achieve this astonishing abandonment of care and compassion, the coalition need to make the public believe that the NHS is totally useless and requires immediate “reform”; or selling off for profit for those of us who are not completely stupid. The BBC is now required to have a negative NHS story as the third item in any news bulletin and unless there is actually some important news, a piece “exposing” NHS failure should be the top story. The printed press join in with daily lurid tales of inept doctors, cruel nurses, corrupt GPs, filthy wards, patients left out in the snow and maniacal paramedics beating up pensioners already in a coma to steal their mobile tablet devices. Descending like vultures on the Mid Staffordshire catastrophe, the media still runs stories about dehydrated patients drinking from flower vases even though it is completely untrue and conveniently forget that Sir David Nicholson was in charge at the time.

When short of copy to slag of the NHS the majority of the media, having abandoned any pretence at being anything other than the Tory press office, simply make stuff up. The latest horror we have to endure is the fact that GP surgeries up and down the country are infested with maggots. It seems odd that a fisherman suffering from an unfortunate angling accident involving a hook and a thumb should cause such national outrage by spilling some of his bait at the front door of not one but two surgeries when picking up his repeat prescription.

The BBC are particularly good at this sort of nonsense. They managed to run the “doctors and nurses wearing the niqab” non-story for weeks under the watchful eye of Lord Patten, chairman of the BBC, former Tory minister and benefiting from considerable business interests in private health care. As propaganda goes, this invented story is genius as at least four boxes are ticked. Misogyny – check, Islam – check, divisive fear- check, NHS bashing – bingo, you have won a BBC executive bonus. When the Dimbleby`s asked the audiences: “Would you be happy to be treated by a doctor or nurse wearing a Niqab?” the answer was 100 per cent “no”. Interestingly, the unasked question: “Have you ever been treated by a doctor or nurse wearing a Niqab?” would have given the same response.

We have suffered this onslaught of rubbish for more than three and half years without any attempt to explain why the NHS is being systematically trashed to make its privatisation acceptable to the public and at a knock-down rate to corporate sharks. In all that time, as far as I am aware, the BBC have devoted all of two minutes and 27 seconds to the reality of the theft.

I have to admit that I am not familiar with the work of comedian Rufus Hound but last Friday evening, doing the washing-up after tea, I heard him on BBC Radio 4 speaking on the News Quiz. The wonderful Sandi Toksvig asked him a humorous question about the NHS and this is what he said:

Be quick for I fear this will be removed from the internet with the same diligence as promises and speeches made by coalition ministers. I made a point of listening to the Saturday lunchtime repeat to confirm that the BBC had actually broadcast some reality. Rufus Hound said this:
“Does this not scare anyone, though? There are a lot of stories coming out at the moment about all the ways that the NHS is failing. At the same time there is privatisation by stealth. Now, if you’re a conspiracy theorist, maybe those two things just resolve themselves. If you’re a normal person, you’ve got to become a conspiracy theorist, haven’t you?

“The number of contracts being put out to private companies has gone up through the roof. All of the pre-election promises of no privatisation of the NHS, and that the budget would be ring-fenced – it was ring-fenced but not in real terms, so it is a cut in the truest sense…

“The NHS is being sold out from under us, and yet all the stories that come out from the powerful oligarchs who run the media are either about how it’s failing and how much better off we’d be if it was privatised, or why privatisation can’t happen quickly enough for any one of a number of other reasons.

“The reason those surgeries are filthy is, there’s not enough investment to keep them clean and tidy. The argument isn’t ‘privatise’; the argument is ‘invest more’.
“In the Olympics, there was that big moment where they had ‘NHS’ and everybody stood up and applauded, and I think it was Norman Lamont who said, ‘The nearest thing the British people have to a religion is the NHS’ – and we’re just letting it go.
“People should be on the streets.
“And I realise that, for this to make the edit, it should have a punchline.”

That`s two minutes and 27 seconds on a “satirical” comedy radio programme tucked away in the schedule that can be easily dismissed because the show features wealthy, trendy Marxists and known Lesbians who probably have private health schemes and mansions in Notting Hill. It is, however, one of the few times the BBC have broadcast anything near the truth about the NHS in a very long time.

I am more than happy for hospital consultants to work seven days a week but wonder where the money will come from and what will stop skilled doctors leaving the UK for a more sensible way of working because working seven days a week is not very sensible. This barking mad government claims that they have secured more NHS doctors since they assumed power. Well, it takes considerable longer than two minutes and 27 seconds to train a doctor. Perhaps MPs instead of discussing giving themselves an 11 per cent pay rise and an extra weeks holiday should work seven days a week and then debate and vote on government policies leaked on Friday afternoon or revealed on Sunday morning television shows.

After all, eight days a week is not enough to show they care. People should be on the streets.

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