Today is my birthday. I have been alive for over half a century…if this was the 1400s, I’d be a village elder or something, (on account of having lived so long)
So, I thought today would be a good day to reflect on how things have changed (for better or for worse) during my time on planet earth.
After I left school in the 70s having previously passed my 11 plus exam
and struggling with studying for my GCSEs, in what was one of the hottest summers on record, I applied to be a student nurse at my local teaching hospital. By now it was the late 70’s early 80’s. Thatcher was sat on the throne and she was on a mission to destroy the NHS
I remember junior doctors going on strike and Senior consultants having to take bloods and admit patients.
I remember those junior doctors being so tired having done well in excess of 80 hours on call a week that they would fall asleep on the ‘phone whilst I was discussing a patient with them (and nooooo it’s not because I bored them to sleep before you say anything)
My first monthly wage as a student nurse was £80 (my rent was deducted at source by the hospital because I resided in hospital accommodation – very handy for the hospital if there was a major incident or adverse weather; I could just stick my cap and cape on and walk over to the ward, A&E or wherever I was needed)
I remember the previously in house hospital catering and cleaning services being outsourced and the resulting fall in standards of both of those services.
I remember the demise of the matron… a time served nurse who ruled the ward including the doctors, cleaners, catering and porters (and probably anyone else she could lay her hands on)
One incident sticks in my mind, which illustrates how these battleaxes always had the welfare of patients at their core….
Dr Das “now then Matron, I want to get Mr Jones mobilising. Can you arrange physiotherapy please”
Matron ” Dr Das.. do you know how long I have been nursing?”
Dr Das (looking puzzled) No Matron
Matron (pulling herself to her full height and leaning across the nurses station towards Dr Das) ” 32 years Dr Das…. (leaning in closer towards Dr Das) 32 years”
Without warning, Matron leans over the desk and grabs Dr Das by his red dickie bow and without raising her voice says…
“Do not dare come on to my ward and expect a patient who is 24 hours post op laminectomy
to ambulate without adequete pain relief. I suggest you go immediately and write up appropriate pain relief for Mr Jones”
Priceless! Dr Das of course, did exactly as he was told… well you would, wouldn’t you.
These women (they usually were women in those days) have now long gone, to be replaced by THE HOSPITAL ADMINISTRATOR; usually someone who used to work for Sainsburys and knows fu*k all about patients, medicine or anything much really!
I suspect that Matron and Dr Das are dead now, they must be spinning in their graves to see the current state of the NHS. I cry for it too, just as you would for someone that you loved who is no longer with you.
I think it is immoral, obscene and if it isn’t it should be illegal, to allow private companies to profit from ill and vulnerable people and remember, it WAS the tories who sounded the death knell for the NHS.
I’ve seen the police change from public servants to paramilitary… acting as judge, jury and executioner with no one (not the courts, not the IPCC, not professional standards) curbing their excesses.
I’ve seen the DWP (or the Department for Health and Social Security as it once was) go from assisting people to find work, to sanctioning for all it’s worth.
I’ve seen local authorities now having no regard for it’s citizens but more concerned with lining it’s own pockets and carrying out central governments draconian policies.
I’ve seen the BBC change from an organisation with integrity and unbiased reporting to brainwashing the public and only showing one side of the story and ignoring opinions and evidence against the government of the day.
I’ve watched as the UK becomes an increasingly surveilled state… CCTV, Regulation of Investigatory Powers, DNA kept for ever even if acquitted/not convicted. I note that it is only us citizens that are watched 24/7 … politicians, police chiefs, tory donors, bank chiefs… well they don’t seem to be as under the microscope as we are do they?
One thing we all have access to that I certainly did not have in the 70’s is the internet….what a golden nugget that is.
That is how like minded people can connect and help each other. It’s how I became aware of how Mike Sivier on Vox Political was hitting a brick wall trying to obtain ESA mortality statistics from the DWP. It’s how I was able to assist him by researching and putting together a statement of case.
I have been educated and empowered by the internet and THEY hate it…those who are in authority …. knowledge is power; educate yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to use the governments own weapons against them (such as the Freedom of Information Act)
As my dear old dad (who died 10 years ago) used to say to me…
“If you don’t fight, you won’t win; but if you do fight, you’re in with a chance”
* the more things change, the more they stay the same