Tuesday, 17 January 2017


Well, it's been a while. Brexit, Theresa May's incompetent government, Labour's utterly ineffectual Opposition to the incompetent government, and now the prospect of Donald Trump becoming US President this week have made me lose enthusiasm for pretty much everything, and this blog is one casualty. It's no longer fit for purpose. Times have changed. I don't want to watch television because I don't want to see the news. I don't want to travel anywhere because the pound is worth peanuts and I am embarrassed to be associated with a country that has become xenophobic in spades, bullied and dictated to by the right-wing press, and is now overrun with people too ignorant to spot the lies they are being drip-fed.

So I need to change tack, and write something more appropriate for the times, or something that might actually do some good. I am still mulling over ideas.

But a documentary last week about a London NHS trust, filmed at St Mary's hospital in Paddington, London, made me angry enough to seek an online outlet to rant. And this is currently the only one I have.

There is no escaping the fact that the NHS is currently in dire straits. Theresa May and Jeremy (cough)-Hunt may claim otherwise as they sing "lalala" with their fingers in their ears before cutting off more money and handing out more private contracts to Richard Branson, but the rest of us can see it's cash-starved and desperate. Nobody wants to get ill ever, but now there is little guarantee of speedy or safe treatment if we do.

They may be contemplating (or actually) leaving in droves, but right now, the NHS is still staffed by brilliant, caring doctors and nurses. But it's bloody difficult getting to see them. And this documentary showed why. Two highly experienced and skilled surgeons with two urgent patients to treat, and yet both were kept waiting for hours by managers trying to secure each an intensive care bed, none of which were available in the hospital. So the surgeons just sat around, scrubbed up and ready to go, for hours, waiting and waiting. One eventually got to operate, on a lady from Norfolk with a ruptured aorta. The other, treating a man with an oesophageal tumour, had to wait until the next day. So these surgeons were effectively paralysed, unable to attend to more routine matters, or perhaps see outpatients or catch up on paperwork, because they were on call, waiting for the go-ahead. They were frustrated and cross and tired, and had been at the hospital for hours before the operations were finally allowed to take place late in the day, all of which surely has to compromise patient safety. Seeing clinical experts sitting around DOING NOTHING, wasting all their years of training and and practice and research was beyond farcical. It was utterly maddening. All because the government won't give the hospital any more money to open up more intensive care beds.

And there were no beds anywhere else in the hospital either. People were unable to go anywhere, even if they didn't need to be in hospital any more, because there's no money to fund social care either. Managers were sitting in meetings seriously debating whether it was acceptable to turn endoscopy suites into makeshift wards, or to lie adult patients alongside children in the paediatrics unit. The lack of beds meant routine operations were being cancelled to allow for emergency life-saving operations to take place, thus causing delays further down the waiting lists for those with long-term but less urgent needs. Possibly then making them become urgent. And when serious cancer treatments and surgery get delayed, it reduces their chance of success. Everything just gets worse, people need more treatment, and the whole system grinds to a halt.

The Red Cross has likened the state of Britain's NHS to the humanitarian crisis of a warzone or a Third World country. How can this be happening? The NHS has never had everything it needs, it's never been performing as well as it could, and there undoubtedly has to be major changes to how it operates and how it is paid for, but to deliberately starve it of funds like this, ready to usher in some American style privatisation, is beyond despicable. This government just does not care. As long as rich Tory MPs can get to see their private GPs and consultants, as long as City bankers have their health insurance schemes, they will never give a shit about anyone else. Welcome to Brexit Britain, which sold itself on a lie and a false bribe about the NHS on the back of a bus.

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