Thursday, July 13, 2006

The brothel keeping school of hospital management

Can anything compare with sunsets over empty hospital car parks?

Aside from photographing painted chewing gum on the streets of North London, I’ve also spent a fair bit of my time this week chatting with Macmillan nurses.

Lovely people that they are, having one of them appear at the foot of your bed, or a loved one’s bed, can hardly be described as a welcome occasion. Short of someone coming into the room dressed in a black hood and carrying a scythe they’re the surest sign that all is not as well as it could be.

Yet for people who spend their working life dealing with incurable illness and pain they somehow manage to stay remarkably positive

I’m a big fan of nurses in general

And not just because they represent a potentially cheap date with a high gross-out threshold.

I simply just can’t believe that they exist.

I mean who would do what they do, for the hours that they work, for the money that they are paid?


It certainly takes all sorts to make a world and speaking as someone who is not the nursing sort I am profoundly grateful for that

I only mention all of this because after one of my regular marvelling at the very existence of nurses sessions earlier this week I happened to be flipping through a discarded newspaper and read a story about this man…

Jowell's husband left isolated over tax evasion case

OK, that was last week’s news and this week’s fish and chip wrapping paper. But I couldn’t help thinking, given my immediate environment, that just one greasy £350,000 bribe to one greasy little husband of a Labour cabinet minister was equivalent to what a nurse would earn in something like 15 to 20 years.

It’s contrasts like that which have totally blown any faith I may have ever had that what people earn is in any way based on their abilities, or supply and demand, or any of the other crap like that which people, usually higher earning people, cling to.

To my knowledge there is no national shortage of greasy little creeps willing to lie through their teeth to protect billionaires or cheat their way out of their own personal tax liabilities.

But we’re so hard up for nurses in this country that we’re stripping Africa, the Caribbean, the Far East and Eastern Europe of their own much-needed medical staff.

Yet we still pay our nurses fuck all money

And this is in spite of the fact that we have never spent so much money on our Health Service

Of course, there are counter arguments to explain why nurses earn bugger all and grease spots like David Mills earn a fortune. One strain of thought goes along the lines of ‘Nurses take satisfaction from their work in a way that someone like a tax evasion lawyer never could. In effect, the high pay is compensation for living a wholly irredeemable and miserably worthless existence’.

Well, in that case people like Mills and his ilk are arguably grossly underpaid


So anyway, there I am sitting every day in a London hospital. A hospital paid for out of public money but owned by a private company under a PFI deal. A hospital where the patients’ food is trucked in from 150 miles away, by which time it has turned to mush. A hospital where I can’t sit in some of the public areas whilst the snack bar concession is open unless I’ve bought something from it. A hospital where it costs a minimum of four quid to park a car when visiting a sick person. A hospital where zombified nursing staff routinely work double shifts and still have to get the night bus home or weave through night-time traffic on mopeds because they can’t afford more secure or reliable transport. And I keep asking myself…

Where has all the fucking money gone?

And some of the stories I’ve heard from some of the overseas nurses about the promises made to get them over here and the tricks played to cut them short of a grand or two in pay once they arrive…

They’re basically the same stories I’ve been told about recruitment of teachers from overseas. There’s one headmistress I’ve heard of who would regularly go on recruitment trips to South Africa and Australasia, in term time, and basically assure young teachers that Tower Hamlets was a fantastic place to live, that the school environment was not particularly challenging and that their pay would go a long way even if they weren’t fully qualified by British standards…

Oh dear. That’s hardly sporting behaviour is it.

Fans of Wild West history or the TV show Deadwood will be familiar with legendary saloon owner and brothel keeper Al Swearengen. I mention Al because he was famous for, amongst other things, his distinctive approach to personnel recruitment…

Al Swearengen recruited women from the east by advertising jobs in hotels and promising to make them stage performers at his theatre. Purchasing a one way ticket for the women, when they arrived, the hapless ladies would find themselves stranded with little choice other than to work for the notorious Swearengen or be thrown into the street. Some of these desperate women took their own lives rather than being forced into a position of virtual slavery.

Maybe some of the consultants helping to siphon off the countless billions from our health and education budgets are big Al fans too.


Postman said...

Having had the recent misfortune to suffer a severe Asthma attack in the US is was rushed in a private car by a relative to the hospital of choice (5 to choose from). At the door of A & E the car was valet parked, as it was when leaving.

Whilst in the UK this is seen as avoidable luxury, in the US this is par for the course as relatives / friends bringing in A & E (or ER as they quantly have it) are in a state of hi-anxiety and more likely to be able to handle matters , explain what's happened , do the paperwork, rather than finding a car space, etc., (Parking is free).

Tipping results in the recipient being sacked on the spot.

From hitting the door ( they had been phoned ahead) it was 2/3 minutes before treatment commenced. The double room was equipped with a dedicated phone line for immediate use (inward access limited 8am -10pm outward no limits), net access, TV, Radio.

Every treatment, was bar coded with staff member, time, ampoule batch etc., the staff member told me their name their job, asked if I understood the procedure and explained it anyway.

The pulmonary consultant (3 saw me - Rochdale where I live have none currently as the present one is on 6 months maternity leave) saw me at midnight for 1/2 hour.

No member of staff who dealt with me had worked there for less than 5 years and many over 10 years.

The rooms, equipment, food were on a par with Rochdale but the human interface was superb, friendly and confidence boosting.

Cost of Tesco Travel Insurance for 1 year - less than £1.00 a day. SEvice from their North American Office in Canada, prompt, courteous, efficient,

If you have a choice where to be ill, choose Indianapolis.

KeirHardiesCap said...

Wow! That's a fantastic endorsement of nurses. Thanksss!
The huge amount of money put into the NHS in the last few years was never put in for increased services to patients - only a tiny amount ever got down to the front-line. It was put in for privatisation schemes, IT failures, stonking pay rises for doctors but no-one else, and now, apparently - MUSICIANS - to try to stop people rioting while they wait hours for treatment. They really don't get this, do they?