Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Health of the British

Why do the British put up with the National Health Service? Is it now the worst health system in the developed world? Thanks to Gordon Brown's billions, the NHS is now run entirely for the benefit of the staff and their petty grievances. An Australian friend who complained to a nurse recently was told she didn't understand our culture - I wonder if she would have said that to an Asian or African. Another nurse failed to respond to an emergency bell because she'd "just come off my break." In A & E departments you have to wait hours because all the staff are continually discussing their precious "breaks". (What is a "break"? I never have "breaks".) A big hospital I had to visit recently was one of the filthiest buildings I've ever encountered. I could go on. In the last year or two I have come across multiple NHS horror stories, some with fatal consequences. At the heart of the matter is the fact that nobody in the NHS actually likes or feels any obligation to patients or their friends and families. As a result, the casual infliction of additional suffering - and, thanks to novel bugs, further illness - is commonplace. Ethos, which, Gordon, you cannot buy, has vanished. When are we going to take to the streets?


  1. The NHS does have an ethos - trouble is, it's a neo-Stalinist one. As it sees itself as a 'service' provided 'free', its users are in the position of supplicants, who must be grateful for whatever they get from a service run for the benefit of its functionaries. A quick test of ethos: if (heaven forbid) you find yourself a patient in an NHS hospital, you will be called 'Bryan' (of quite possibly Bernard or Bonzo); in a private hospital, you will be called 'Mr Appleyard'. Cash on the barrelhead - that's the key. The fact of money being involved would also see off most of those legions of the 'worried well' about whom you have blogged elsewhere.

  2. Being one who would be the other side of the barricades, Bryan, or should we know call you Bonzo, I am comforted by the fact that there are probably more of us than you...

  3. David,
    As the NHS appears to the be biggest employer in the galaxy - or is that Indian railways? - I don't doubt that there are more of you. But you make my point for me. Why are there such barricades? Shouldn't we be on the same side?

  4. gate crashing your conversation - definition of a hypocrite: someone who will work in the NHS but won't be treated in it.
    I used to make excuses for working in the private sector, and now I make excuses for not. After 28 years in nursing I am also considering industrial action. The management have put into place a system whereby you can voice your concerns about the service, but it is "hobson's choice" as to you taking up this option. If you "whine" about staffing levels you are seen as over reacting, but if you leave it until something happens, it is perceived as mis-management.

    Not quite sure which side of the barricades I would be on. Grounds for divorce?

  5. I think not all health care system is perfect. Even Americans are on the issue on improving their health care system. This only suggests that we haven't found the best health care system yet in developed countries, more so in developing countries. This is a big challenge we are facing.