Oh, Doctor!

Brothers and Sisters!

Today’s moment for thought is dedicated to our wonderful British National Health Service.  The envy of the world, it performs a sterling function in the community, for which I do not feel sufficient appreciation is given.  As you know, illness is generally suffered by old people, and old people can be notoriously difficult to deal with, especially in times of stress, so I think doctors generally, and nurses especially, show incredible patience.

But…

Doctor – dear nameless doctor ( because I never get to see the same one twice) – why do you need to know what’s wrong with me before you see me?   Why, when I call to make an appointment, do I get fed this line:

“For what reason do you want to see a doctor?  The doctors have requested that I ask you this.”

“Er…why?”   I presume my answer – this information, if I give it, will be passed on to the medical practitioner I am booked to see.  Does this person have special treatment kits they need to remember to bring for my particular complaint?  Or is it a matter of fine tuning?  The length of the consultation might be pertinent:  five minutes for anything above the waist, seven or eight minutes for anything involving removal of trousers.   Three minutes for a sick note, four minutes for flu, twelve minutes for a liver, and so on.

This is a receptionist.  She is not a doctor, she is not qualified.  I may have met her before, or not. She may have the phone on speaker, I don’t know.  Is my confidentiality being respected; are my details being broadcast for the amusement of the office, kept for blackmail purposes, for transmission to insurance companies, drug suppliers, the Russians?  There are certain things I would rather not discuss with anyone other than a qualified practitioner, and why should I?

However, not wishing to seem obstructive, I have come up with a solution that should be agreeable to all.

I have made a list of medical conditions I am at all likely to suffer and given each an easy to remember code.  I have used as my key Stations on the East Coast Main Line railway timetable.   I am ready to distribute this list to every doctor in the practice, so that, for example, when I tell the receptionist:

  • London King’s Cross is throbbing a bit
  •  I am failing to stop at Newark North Gate (or occasionally missing the end of the platform)
  • I’m still at Peterborough
  • Edinburgh Waverley hasn’t worked for three weeks now, or
  • The very thought of Berwick Upon Tweed is agony –

she will be able to relay this information in a form that respects my privacy and is at once easy for the doctor to understand.

The National Health Service is very good, but it tends to be a bit mercenary.  For example, apparently the last time our local surgery advertised for a new doctor they got a zero response.  Nobody wanted to sample the pleasant coolness and invigorating rain of County Durham.   The standard NHS explanation for such difficulties is always centred around money.  “We are under-funded”, they say, “which is why our doctors migrate to other countries where they can earn more.”   Could it be that these brave  doctors want to surf, and swim – to bathe themselves in a balmy sunlit glade somewhere?  Is it possible they simply want to get warm?

There are, however, a few – a very few – areas where, in my personal experience, financial improvements might help to oil the wheels, so to speak.

Dear Jeremy Hunt (Minister for Health), please give these matters some consideration:

  1. In a hospital with ten lifts (elevators), it would be preferable if more than two were working, especially if one of those is being used to transport patients to and from the operating theatres.  If there are times when an elderly person feels disadvantaged – or even, dare I say, humiliated – lying on a gurney in an inadequate hospital gown must surely be one.  Sharing a lift with a full load of ward visitors and their children is, for some less exhibitionist types, a very good reason to choose euthanasia.
  1. If the NHS is truly a seven-days-a-week service, why are almost all procedures booked for Monday to Friday and in ‘office hours’?
  1. Allowing people to sit or lie about in corridors is untidy and generally bad for your image. I thought at first these individuals were homeless persons, but it turned out they were just waiting for a free lift (elevator).
  1. In the above stated negative lift (elevator) situation, installing the cardiac ward on the fifth floor might be regarded as:   a.  an ingenious solution to patient overload, or b.  a sick joke.
  1. Adequate signage is essential. In hospitals please reconsider the seemingly ingenious method of direction which instructs visitors to follow coloured lines painted on the floor when searching for their appropriate department.  Allocating a green line to STI Clinic and a blue line to Maternity can cause real difficulties for colour blind patients.

Dear patient, dear (dare I say?) geriatric patient, be – well – patient, I suppose.  You may feel the NHS’s constant bleating about inadequate resources is inconsistent with your consultant’s Aston Martin in the hospital car park; you may feel victimised as your buttocks numb to their fourth hour on that plastic waiting room chair, or slightly patronised when a young intern tells you that persons of your weight and sedentary habits must expect to start bleeding out every now and then.

Remember he is overworked, and in the front line of a battle with an increasing army of the aged and the drunk.

What would we do without these selfless people?  More seriously, what will we do when they are gone?   For bad as it is, the NHS is under threat from rampant private interests who would have us all pay the real price for our medical care.

And who, in creaking austerity Britain, could afford THAT?

 

Eurpoe

mermaid wall (2016_04_04 15_16_25 UTC)
The Sirens of Brussels

 

A word from Divvin (that’s an English County next to Zummerzet and just down the road from Darsit, if you’m wonderin’).

Now, my Darlin’s, ‘tis like this.

Other wick we had a vote, see?  ‘Twas like ever’body got to ‘ave a say about how us felt ‘bout the immigrants an’ that, an’ we all turned out and we told ‘em, no uncertain fashion, like, what us thought we ought to do.  Leave that there Eurpoe Onion thing from the Brussels!   Yes!   An’ it turns out we didn’t want nothin’ more to do wi’ no Onions, and ‘ow we wanted to go out by ourselves.  Aye!

Well, turns out we were wrong, see?   ‘Cause all these ‘ere thinkin’ people says we should stay in, an’ ‘ow we faces certain ruin if we don’t.   An’ we says to ‘em, see, it was a Democratic Decishun, but they say that don’t count, ‘cause apparently they won’t get so much money if us makes ‘em leave, and they won’t be able to live in they there nice London apartments no more, or travel around this ‘ere Eurpoe to get better jobs, and stuff like that.   They says we bin lied ter, an’ un-screw-pew-lus people, they led us up the garden path, an’ that.  We jus’ voted ‘cause of the immigration, see?  Aye.

So they goin’ to change wha’ we want to what they want, and that’s o’y fair, ‘cause we’m jus’ ord’nary people, and not great and good like they are.

So, seems to me that all these ‘ere clever people, they on’y peddle that there Democracy to us when they want us to see things their way; and if we don’t, then they got to twist it about until we do.  Lawyers, and Ac’demics, and that, they knows what’s good for us, don’ they?  An’ learned people, they thinks we’re too thick to unnerstand ‘bout Eurpoe.

See, I voted ‘cause I didn’t think that there Onion was goin’ anywhere.  I thought that my country is what serves me a livin’ an’ not none of the Brussels.   They’m got strange money that they keeps printin’ with no vaalue behind un, they keeps poorer countries strugglin’ for a livin’ an’ it’s not long afore we becomes one of those, if we stays in, like.   They keeps takin’ our money and givin’ us less back than what they takes, they makes rules we can’t keep up with, and my sheep dip’s more ‘ficient at keepin’ out the nasties than their immigration pol’cy.  They destroyed our fishin’ ind’stry, they put the cost of livin’ up for all of us an’ they make us tax things we shouldn’t, don’t they?  And we can’t take so many people!    Now, that’s not racist, nor nothin’, but us got a dooty to house and keep the people we already got.  It makes sense, see?  If my neighbour, he don’t put no fence up,  his sheep gets all mixed up wi’ mine an’ they overstocks my land while I feeds ‘em for ‘im for free.  Seems simple sense to me.

But there.  I don’t know nothin’.  I may know the price of livestock an’ ow to run a business, but to you they ac’demics I’m jus’ the peasant who’s ‘pinions you thinks you can ignore – I’ll jus’ tug my forelock as I passes you by and you can try to forget it’s me who does all the work, who keeps your nicely feathered beds stuffed an’ makes your country run.

So, talk your way into believing you are doing the right thing in trying to overturn the will of the people with your contrived arguments and Machiavellian tactics.   Buy your politicians and your expensive lawyers; pay the media to find a case for you to make.  But if you do, and you succeed in contraverting the will of the people you will finally write the obituary of  British democracy, and prove the lie you have been trying to disguise for so many years.

And I, at least, will stand against you, tooth and claw.  And I will never, whatever ‘democratic’ compulsion you thrust upon me, mark a ballot paper again.

Monday Morning Rant – From a Conversation with Joe

Why is Joe important to me?  Maybe because he’s one of the legions of people who live alone, who are not easily employable, and who, for one reason or another, rely upon the State to support them.

Joe is not ‘lazy’.  With his history of mental illness, I doubt he has a real concept of what the word means; nor is he a ‘scrounger’ in any comfortable sense.  Like almost all those the middle class try to cram into the freeloader mold, Joe doesn’t quite fit.   For a large part of his life he was institutionalized until the State in its wisdom decided he should be cared for ‘in the community’.  At some stage the same State decided he was well.  So the care bit stopped.  ‘Support’ took its place.

There are a small number of jobs for people like Joe.  Unfortunately, there are a very large number of Joes.

Joe is a council tenant.  He has a two-bedroomed house which the State now says is too large.  In the latter half of this year his housing allowance will be cut by fifty percent.  He has few other allowances – no child allowance, for example – so when the cut comes he will not have enough to live on.

The State has two answers:  either take on a paying tenant for the room to make up the difference, or move to smaller accommodation.    

Health and Safety now pieces itself into the argument:  before he accepts a tenant, Joe must satisfy fire regulations and install fire doors to his council let.  No, the council won’t do it; they’ll only prosecute if it is not done.  Joe does not have the four-figure sum this installation will cost; and everyone else involved is happy to ignore the speculative nature of such an investment.  After all, who can guarantee a tenancy?   Even then, incidentally, the council must approve his tenant – a process that, to go by most council procedures, could take months:  Joe’s budget just about gets Imagehim from week to week.

So, Joe must move into a single-bedroom unit.  Problem?  The councils and housing associations have no single bedroom units.  There is a massive waiting list for those that are already in place.

For years both legislative bodies and private house builders have concentrated upon the more versatile two- and three-bed units.  There are hundreds and thousands of those.  Even landlords in the private sector have predominantly larger units:  they attract more rent – they make economic sense.

Economic sense is the quality it seems our rulers conspicuously lack.  In a move that is intended to save money and drive those who for generations have lived off the State into work they are in danger of causing a housing crisis of epic proportions – a situation likely to cost five times as much as they save.   Not that this is unusual for British Government – they have enviable expertise in the area of profligacy and waste.  I just hope Joe does not have to count himself among the victims of this latest splurge.

Increasingly, the vox populi can be heard referring to ‘New Victorian Britain’.  If only it were so.  Yes, deprivation was extant in layers of Victorian society, and no, there was no welfare state; but in that dog-eat-dog world at least there was precious little regulation either.  You might install a tenant in your attic and another in your coal-house, and no-one would know or care.  Today we are regulated up to our eyeballs, pressured by commerce to the point where we no longer have control of our own minds and watched relentlessly by cameras on stalks, statistical monitoring and – shall we say – ‘zealous’ policing?   Poverty has a different complexion in the 21st Century, but it is no less real.

No, I am not a Socialist or a Communist or any other ‘ist’.  I hold no high expectations, whatever their political colour, of the loathsome gnomes who rule us but I wish – oh, yes, I wish.   I wish we might forfeit our pretensions on ‘The World Stage’ and accept we have no place in Middle-Eastern wars.  I wish we might cease supplying ‘foreign aid’ to plutocrats in the hope they will let us drill their oil, and I wish we might, just for once, begin to treat our own people with respect.