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A World War 2 Trilogy

By FRED NATH (Novelist and Neurosurgeon)

Fred's Blog


Covid-19 [4] The NHS

Posted on 16 April, 2020 at 18:49
I may seem like a bitter old git, but I have serious reservations about all the praise for NHS workers. I see how people are clapping and join them unreservedly in praising how front-line NHS workers are going to work every day facing fears and genuinely risking their lives to save patients in the present Covid-19 crisis. It is what the NHS and the wonderful people in it signed up for, are committed to, and execute with kindness and empathy.
I’ve been a consultant neurosurgeon for 34 years in the NHS and have had the privilege of working beside the finest nurses, porters and ground staff any system could offer. Many of them worked without demur despite poor conditions, under staffing and poor remuneration. The nurses on my neurosurgical ward never went home at the end of their shift on time because they had to make sure that in the presence of staff shortages (always there) the patients would be OK. I loved those people for their kindness, care and empathy.  About time you appreciated them too.
But… And there is always a but…
Think about it. Those people you are all praising, and admiring have been doing that job for a long time. What have successive governments done to them? Yes, not just Tories but Labour Governments also?
Margaret Thatcher wanted to dis-empower doctors and abolish ‘shroud waving’ because she and her Government were underfunding the NHS and under-paying the hard-working staff – doctors, nurses, porters and cleaners. She put doctors into management to divide and rule – setting doctor against doctor to make them blame each other instead of the niggardly governments. There was a review body which did what the Government wanted and never paid anyone in the NHS even at the level of inflation.
Next came successive Labour and Conservative Governments who engaged in and encouraged ‘doctor bashing’ – vilifying doctors generally. The press joined in and the politicians tried their best to redress the balance between the public view of doctors compared to the public view of politicians.
NHS workers – all of us- felt undervalued and underpaid. Morale was rock-bottom and descending.
Suddenly – Covid-19!
Yes, you are going to die without our glorious NHS. Well, buddy, let me tell you the NHS was always bloody glorious!
Not only are we there for you now, we always were, despite what the politicians did to us. They tried to damage our status (nurses and doctors). They cheated us over pensions. They underpaid us.
And Now? Wonderful NHS – saving lives – we are so grateful!
You for real?
We have one of the lowest per capita rate of cost for health care in Europe. We have had desperately insufficient ITU beds in the country for years. Patients died for the lack of them and no one cared. We cajoled, we urged, and we begged for more ITU beds and were laughed at. No one cared and people died unnecessarily.
Perhaps now, even Boris Johnson realizes what the NHS is. It is a wonderful institution and the people working in it do so and give everything they have, even their lives for others without complaint (or remuneration).
Shouldn’t you be paying them for what they do? Shouldn’t they have a right to a decent wage and a feeling of security?
Keep clapping and wafting your virus at the people round you.

It wont pay anyone’s mortgage. 

Categories: thoughts

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