The forgotten weapon that could help save the NHS

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It’s been a month now since one Mr. Jeremy Hunt, duly appointed Secretary of Health and best friend to rhyming slang, insulted the country’s entire medical staff. A month since the backlash against lies and innuendo supported by twisted facts and figures. A month since social media seemed to go in to meltdown with demands for his resignation, for the truth about his accusations to be laid bare. After that month, and the dust having settled a little, there are some steps being taken to remedy the situation, even if much of the country are still unaware there is a situation to remedy.
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I’m not here to tell you why we need to save our NHS. I can’t think of another way to say what I have already shouted for my last four articles. Instead I’m more interested in how we are going to save it. If you follow me on social media you’ll have seen me mention a new website www.nhssurvival.org. This website is set up and run by medics and patients, all wanting to preserve the free health care that this country has been lucky to have for the last 70 years. One of its missions is to call for a “Royal Commission on the NHS”, the idea being  it would “allow decisions about the NHS to be made by patients, public and professionals – not politicians”. Now as easy, and as right as it is to lay blame of the state of our health service at the feet of politicians (and lets be honest, almost a little fun) this cannot be the only remedy we should be pursuing to save the NHS.
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I talked in a previous post about the phenomenon of the “worried well” – people subjected to the disinformation by the media and the twisted facts and figures of the politicians, who feel they are more important than the next. It’s a culture of self-preservation and selfishness that has grown around us for decades – a far cry from when the NHS was first created, in the smoking ruins of the UK emerging from World War 2. In 1945 this country had nothing, and yet the people pulled together to look after everyone. Now I’m not exactly the most patriotic person you’ll meet, but if you are wondering why this country is called Great Britain, this is a huge reason! For an entire nation to band together the way it did after such a relentless pummelling is nothing short of heroic, and here we are, almost three quarters of a century later, watching it unravel.
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The only way to combat this systemic issue of an increasingly insular society is with education. An entire generation has grown up thinking that it’s ok to waste the time of the health service (and if you read the news you can add the police and fire departments to that list as well). It’s not ok. There was a time when, if you felt there was something wrong with you, you would talk to a family member or a friend to get some advice, instead of rocking up to your GP’s with a sniffle that could be easily gotten rid off by a few gulps of Lemsip (other cold remedies are also available).

Learning how to take care of yourself should be part of the national curriculum. Knowing how your countrys health service is operated and paid for should be compulsory education. Obviously we have first aid, sex education etc. but it should go further than that. We should be sharing how the NHS actually works, its roots. The National Health Service has it’s place in history lessons, science, physical education, social studies (I’m assuming these still exist in school since I left last century?!) The goverments health and education departments should be working together to help solve this problem that they have, be it directly or indirectly created. There are people out there walking around who still believe doctors work 9-5 Monday to Friday and still have time for a weekly 18 hole round of golf. It’s not their fault, it’s what they’ve heard through the rumour mill. Replace the rumour with facts and the NHS will be in a much better position simply because the people who use it will understand it.

A royal commission is essential to keeping the NHS out of the hands of politicians, many of whom have direct links to private health care firms that stand to make substantial financial gains were the NHS to be privatised. Education will help the doctors and nurses, who face an increased work load partly due to those “worried well”, who will be better informed on how to deal with their symptoms without having to seek medical attention, or if that attention is needed who best to see.
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I’m not a doctor, I’m just someone who is frustrated by the appalling situation within this country regarding its health service. I refuse to believe that the only way we can get away from this selfish insular society and back to that idea of helping each other is to go through another barbaric conflict. We are better than that. We have to be.

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Is The UK Government Banning Mainstream Media From Reporting On One Of The Most Important Stories Of The Year?

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I often ask myself where our society would be without social media these days. It’s become the way to keep in touch with friends and family, see hilarious (some not so much!) pictures and videos, promote businesses films and music….. Social media has also become an invaluable tool for free speech. Something that the mainstream media (TV, Radio, Newspapers) seems to have lost its grip on a while ago.

In my previous article I briefly talked about how our media is paying little or no attention to the storm surrounding Jeremy Hunt’s atrocious attack on NHS staff. That was over the weekend, and I honestly expected that when I woke up Monday morning it would be the top story on most, if not all respectable news outlets. Boy was I wrong!

#WeNeedToTalkAboutJeremy

#WeNeedToTalkAboutJeremy

The reason I had such high expectations was because on Sunday 26th July #WeNeedToTalkAboutJeremy came to life on Twitter. Similar to its predecessor #ImInWorkJeremy, this hashtag was designed to bring together all the thoughts and feelings of the Health Secretary’s latest attempt to undermine our heath service, only this time it was more open to everyone else, as well as doctors and nurses. And boy did this thing come to life! Just one look using this hashtag lead feed showed you exactly what the people of this great country think of a man in charge of the NHS who has no qualifications to be doing so. There was much made of the petition to call for a vote of No Confidence. Awareness was rising. The nation was showing huge interest in this story. As I sit here even now, people continue to spread the word.

So if social media was alive and buzzing, what was the traditional mainstream media doing? Answer: NOTHING. On the radio, TV, websites affiliated with these broadcasters, nothing. And I don’t understand why. Surely the job of the national media and news companies are to report on stories that are in the public interest of this country? I can think of no other story, right now, that is more in the public interest than the future of its health service. Why are they not talking about this?

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Screenshotof The Last Leg YouTube channel, 23:36, Monday 27/07/2015

The only mainstream media outlet that I have seen talk openly on this story was Channel 4’s The Last Leg, where Its host Adam Hills went off on one of his trademark rants calling out Mr. Hunt for his remarks. During this you could practically hear the entire NHS workforce applauding and cheering ‘finally, someone gets it. At last people are listening’. The weird thing is that what usually happens after one of Mr. Hills rants is they are uploaded to the shows YouTube channel. At the time of writing this, that brilliantly succinct rant has not been uploaded.

The biggest disappointment for me in all this has been the BBC. The British Broadcasting Corporation has said not one word. There has been nothing on their TV or radio stations, or on their website. We all know that the BBC has its own issues with the current government, especially ahead of the Royal Charter review, but if a corporation designed to entertain and inform is not going to report on one of the most important and relevant stories in the country right now, then what’s the point of its existence? And I’m saying this as someone who loves the BBC. Sherlock, Doctor Who, Fiona Bruce, Jeremy Vine – these are all regulars in our house, and I dread the day that the Beeb is taken from us. Why they have not reported a word of a story that is practically on their doorstep is beyond me, and if I was a conspiracy theorist I would be saying that the Government is stopping them from doing their job, gagging them. But that couldn’t be happening, not in a free and democratic country, right?

Screenshot of BBC News Website (Health) 00:36 Tuesday 27/07/2015. Also no mention on Top Stories or UK News sections.

Screenshotof BBC News Website (Health) 00:36 Tuesday 27/07/2015. Also no mention on Top Stories or UK News sections.

There has been some signs of hope in all this. The Mirror newspaper has posted a story just recently on Labour Leadership Candidate Andy Burnham, and his intent to pledge a vote of No Confidence in Jeremy Hunt. This is the first national newspaper that has openly mentioned not only the petition, but also the 200,000+ signatures. Interestingly the Guardian have also published a story on Mr. Burnham, ahead of the same press conference on Tuesday 28th July. In their story they make a point of saying that Mr, Burnham, currently Shadow Health Secretary, will be talking on the 70th anniversary of the year that a Labour government that created the NHS came in to power. It then quickly goes on to dissect Mr. Burnham’s role in the Labour leadership battle (which is totally newsworthy) but mentions nothing of the fact that he will be voting No Confidence in his Conservative counterpart when parliament resumes. Once again, a media blackout on the part of the story that affects an entire nation.

Mirror is first national newspaper to talk about petition for vote of No Confidence in Jeremy Hunt,

Mirror is first national newspaper to talk about petition for vote of No Confidence in Jeremy Hunt,

The media will always have an agenda, an angle when it comes to reporting a story. This is something that, as we have become more media savvy over time, we have also come to accept. What is unacceptable is when the traditional media say nothing on a story. When they just keep quiet on a subject like this that is so important to everyone, you have to wonder why. Is there some kind of conspiracy here? Whatever the answer it appears that TV and radio (and much of the printed press) is not up to doing its job, so it’s down to us. We must keep going on social media – our tweets, posts, links etc. are working. The petition is well past 203,000 signatures, and it will only continue to grow if we keep chatting about it. Keep the pressure on, and this Government has to listen. After all, we elected them in to power – we gave them their jobs, they work for us. Not for themselves or the highly profitable private companies they’re chums with, us. These people are our representatives and so far they are not listening to us (Andy Burnham accepted).

If we don’t ensure that this latest attack on our health service is taken seriously, there will come a day where you won’t be able to go to A&E without a credit card. A day when new parents won’t be able to walk out of a maternity ward with their baby without paying a charge at the exit. That’s not us, that’s not what the UK is.

5ProtectNHS

 

UPDATED: Monday 28/07/2015 – 22:00

Not long after this post was first published, at 9am this morning The Last Leg finally uploaded that rant of Adam Hills towards Mr. Hunt. It is unclear why it took three and a half days to do so, but finally more attention is being drawn to the attack of the Health Secretary on the Health Service.

In print the New Statesman is the first publication to openly talk about the feelings of NHS staff since the initial reaction after Mr. Hunt announced his intentions to enforce new contracts, and insulted the entire workforce. #WeNeedToTalkAboutJeremy is highlighted and explains in great detail the reasons why the medical profession is so angry with its boss,

In the rest of TV land, and in all of radio, silence. Thankfully, as we see here, cracks are beginning to show in the media blackout. Word is getting out, people are talking, and it will be a grave social injustice if after everything I have talked about, at the very least, Jeremy Hunt is not removed from his post as Secretary for Health.