I missed the article in the Guardian by Harry Leslie Smith, but fortunately these letters in yesterday’s edition led me back to it.
Maybe you missed it too. If so, I urge you to read both the article and the letters.
Yesterday, a few of us were discussing how regeneration is affecting our neighbourhood; how untruths, half truths and downright lies, damned some buildings to demolition. It reminded me of the behaviour of a certain London council in the 80s. Residents, all of them council tenants with secure tenancies, were told that there was danger from asbestos, and evacuated from the homes. People were rehoused in housing stock that was often inferior, in different parts of the borough. They thought this was a temporary measure before they could move back to their homes.
But the council had other plans. The flats, all low rise modern blocks, were turned into a gated community and sold. I wonder if there was ever a problem with asbestos there.
This tactic of talking something down; damning it with press releases citing negative publicity, seems to be the norm now whenever local or national government wants to get rid of something. Its value is steadily reduced in the public mind. Anyone who defends it is accused of being delusional, or reactionary. Any mistake by anyone in the NHS is seized upon as proof that it does not work. The phrase, ‘the megalith of the NHS’, is used so routinely in the press that few pause to examine if it is even true. The red tape successive governments have used to hobble and bind the NHS is somehow seen as of its own making, not a cruel and cynical method of reducing its status. Oh yes, it has been cleverly done. So much of the red tape is to make the service ‘accountable’, as though it were an irresponsible adolescent playing fast and loose with the tax payers money. But it’s red tape that takes practitioners away from patients, red tape that has introduced a tick box culture that has made many nurses frustrated and demoralised about the job they do.
One senior nurse told me, off the record of course, that most of the CPD she had undergone in recent years was useless, but it demonstrated, at least on paper, that her skills had been updated and extended.
I know it’s a drum I keep banging, but I feel passionately that the NHS is something worth fighting for. It may need to be reimagined, and the people who should be doing that reimagining are those who believe in it, not those who want to suppress it and leave us at the mercies of private, in-it-for-the-profit, companies.