Opening this document, for some reason, I typed 14th July. No clue why but today’s weather has certainly borne no resemblance to that of July! Grey, overcast, windy, I have been freezing and my attempt to put one foot in front of the other, on the beach, a feat of sheer endurance! It has been a long, long winter both physically and mentally. There is precious little around to cheer but nature is ever defiant and, as I sit at my desk looking out over the garden below, there is a wealth of vibrant greens. The old plum tree, bruised and butchered by the storms of last winter, is fighting on regardless as the blossom emerges to adorn the tired, bare branches. May is approaching with the promise of my favourite flower, the Rhododendron. The most discerning of bushes, the Rhododendron is characteristic of country estates, lining the rolling lawns or the winding driveway of that beautiful old house I covet. Always prominent in my childhood, the vibrancy of the large blooms – comprised of delicate, bell-like flowers – abundant on huge bushes of dark green foliage, cannot fail to lift one’s spirits. Nature’s paint brush at its very best, the colours are exquisite, the settings always elegant. Forever, the promise of spring/summer, I know where to find them each year, never tiring of their beauty. Fleeting, the colours may fade and the flowers wither and die but there is comfort in the certainty of their return – and a wealth of perspective.
You see, there are many facets to my character, my love of nature and appreciation of its very necessary healing powers being one. Another? My anger at humanity; casting aside the powers of good for those of greed and destruction while the apathetic masses quietly succumb, unable to muster the brain capacity to question or research. In a nutshell. So … this week was dominated by the junior doctors’ strike. I hesitated there, questioning whether said strike is requiring of capitals? Certainly not deserving! A strategic four-day strike following straight on from Easter weekend, a four-day holiday. Note to self: pray! Nobody can afford to be ill. Aside from the fact that it is well-nigh impossible to see a GP – self-service, now, apparently – the waiting time for an ambulance will kill you!
A few facts about this junior doctors’ strike, though, for those who can take no more doom and gloom, preferring to silence the news – and who can blame them? Definitely not good for the blood pressure but it seems, since the manipulation and deceit of the last three years, I have an addiction. Bear with … So, junior doctors make up 45% of the workforce in the NHS. They, courtesy of their union – the British Medical Association (BMA) – are asking for/demanding a pay rise of 35%, citing a drop of 26%, in real terms, over the past 15 years. Pertinently, one caller to the Jeremy Vine show questioned why, given there has been no significant increase in the junior doctor salary for the past 15 years, those, now striking, chose to enter the profession?
Ah, of course, medicine is not a profession, its a vocation! ‘First, do no harm’. ‘Primum non nocere’, the Latin translation from the original words attributed to the Greek physician, Hippocrates. Widely believed to be the actual Hippocratic Oath – an oath of ethics, historically taken by physicians – these words are, in fact, taken from another of his works, ‘Of the Epidemics’. A myth, then? More of a mantra. Fitting though it may be, invoking the image of an altruistic, caring professional, sadly, it appears there is no such person when it comes to money. For, in 2023, money is God; it is, at once, what drives and controls people. All niceties have fallen by the wayside, trampled in the stampede of greed. That elusive number on a screen is all-important. It doesn’t exist. It isn’t tangible and, yet, it is everything! Slaves to the rhythm, it has the power to control our every move. Junior doctors? They haven’t even made it to the pedestal!
Thanks to the manipulation of the masses and the lunacy of lockdowns, the past three years have resulted in an NHS waiting list of 7.2 million. Cancer patients waiting to be diagnosed, for treatment; those with heart disease waiting for operations; patients crippled in pain denied the relief of surgery … First do no harm! This four-day strike by junior doctors – 45% of the NHS workforce, remember – means 350,000 appointments cancelled, including operations. This is double the number affected by their last strike in March. What of the fatalities, excess deaths? The figures recorded following the 72-hour walk out of 13-15 March all but tripled. In that week, and the next, 22,571 deaths were registered in England, 11.1% above the average.
‘Excess deaths remained consistently high throughout 2022 which, following a period of such increased death during the pandemic, is unexpected to say the least.’
Dr Charles Levinson, of the private GP service, DoctorCall.
Wonder why that is? Flu, cold weather, hospitalisations are all cited factors. Believable? For the gormless, perhaps. To be honest, this spate of NHS strikes must be a welcome smokescreen for the truth …
Ethics aside, my anger – as so often, of late – lies at the feet of the gullible. Those who, blindly, pledge their support for these strikes. The poor doctors and nurses who donned halos in 2020 and beyond, never to be shaken; not even when those poor doctors and nurses are, knowingly, allowing patients to die in their pursuit of money. Politics over patient safety. First, do no harm …
Nothing surprises me about people anymore, though. Too apathetic to think; to question. In all the debates I listened to on both radio and television, this past week, there was only a passing mention of management. Bureaucracy. The poison which runs through the veins of the NHS; that which has destroyed it. Instead, under-funding is always to blame. Of course, an annual budget of almost £200 billion is not enough, costing £13,000/year per household. Well, not when, amongst the 35.5 thousand senior managers and managing staff in NHS England, there are job titles such as Diversity & Inclusion Officer and Director for Lived Experience, both claiming six-figure salaries! Still wonder where the £200 billion goes?
Once upon a time, the NHS was about caring for people. Then, in April 1991, with the advent of individual trusts, that caring institution became a business and, in truth, with the introduction of management, a form of money laundering. As the thousands of admin staff increasingly garnered the lions’ share for themselves, so the doctors and nurses – and the multitude of health workers – inevitably, suffered, financially, as a result. The NHS isn’t under-funded. Instead, it has been taken hostage in plain sight – by unqualified parasites on ridiculous salaries. Bureaucracy is bleeding it dry …
My father – Pop – was a respected consultant psychiatrist in the days before trusts, when the NHS still had a heart. There was continuity of care and the individual patient mattered. GPs were hands-on, available, and subject to an on-call rota system in the evenings and at weekends. People felt reassured in the knowledge that help was a phone call away … Pop, who loved his job, took early retirement at the age of sixty, in 1987. The early infiltration of management meant he could no longer admit a patient without the go-ahead of some ‘buffoon’ of an administrator. I remember it well; his frustration. The end of an era. Who knew the extent of the tragedy?
Now, as of today, the nurses have turned down the offer of a 5% pay rise. Poised to strike, yet again, around the May Bank Holiday, they are threatening further disruption as far-reaching as Christmas. First do no harm. Somebody stop them! At best, an excellent cover for the soaring excess death figures, there is no point. There is no money. The Diversity & Inclusion Officer and his sidekick, the Director for Lived Experience have snaffled it all. What to do? Don’t worry, the answer requires little brainpower, just a lot of dismantling!
Before I end, what of the forthcoming coronation? What is King Charles thinking? Scaled down, inclusive and another ‘thank you’ to the NHS. I couldn’t be more disinterested. He has, already, demonstrated his true colours in his ruthless dismissal of the loyal Lady Susan Hussey following Ngozi Fulani’s manipulated sting. King Charles III. All hail the King of Woke! In his attempt to appeal to the masses, mistakenly, he is alienating those who matter; the monarchists who believe in the history and value of the institution and who supported his mother throughout her impeccable reign. The historian, David Starkey, was anything but reticent in his critique of the forthcoming event on GB News last Wednesday, claiming Charles has destroyed both the theatre and the purpose of the coronation. Both are fundamental. There will be no members of the House of Lords present, resplendent in their scarlet and white as though the chorus in an opera; a magnificent backdrop to the theatre …
‘Now, what you’re going to have is an abbey filled with Ngozi Fulani, and you’re going to have a wallpaper of what? Of leopard-skin print rather like bar stools in Las Vegas.’
Superb! Absolutely superb! An intelligent, educated man of tradition saying it as it is. Saturday, 6th May. I am almost dreading it. Another nail in the coffin for this country, by all accounts. Ironically, it sounds as though the person to whom this service would most appeal is Meghan! Such a pity she can’t make it …
‘Scratch any cynic and you will find a disappointed idealist.’
This is Trish, signing off.