The flipside of so much focus on support for the NHS and frontline staff is the spotlight that has been shone on its supply chain, lack of resources and specifically the serious lack of PPE being stockpiled for a medical crisis before the COVID-19 Pandemic began.
Today, in the middle of the Coronavirus emergency, it would be hard to find anyone who wouldn’t agree that this really is not how things should be within our Health Service. Yet at any other time, the same people are more likely to nod politely and walk away thinking little more about it than that you were just having a whinge.
You won’t feel the blast from a bomb until the bomb has gone off and the NHS has suffered from a serious lack of urgency and attention because things like PPE have simply been one of those things that it seemed easy to put off until another day.
The lack of planning and consideration within the NHS for the ‘what ifs’, along with the serious staffing shortage that has now been highlighted too are pretty much the tip of the iceberg of the problems and difficulties that affect just about everything else within it too.
But it doesn’t stop there.
In fact, as perhaps the most recognisable face of public service provision in the UK, the real problems that the NHS is facing and the reasons that it is facing them are also being faced and experienced just the same across all parts of Government and the whole of the Public Sector too.
No. I’m not referring to a shortage of PPE across bodies like the Environment Agency, Highways England and local councils too – even though it could very well be the case. I am referring to the cultural rot that exists within all of these public-serving organisations that causes all of the problems that we only experience when they deliver their effects.
This isn’t a new problem and it has been building for a long time. Whilst they appear to be very different outcomes, the Rotherham scandal and the mechanics of the Grenfell disaster are sadly the outcome and effect of all the very same causes that have set the NHS up to struggle at the very time and in the very places that everything should feel like it has come together seamlessly as one.
Political correctness, the push for diversity, EU-derived employment legislation, protectionist culture where the buck gets endlessly passed to none of the above, political interference with ridiculous schemes like PFI, the creation of a massive backroom structure of managers with titles that were never needed before and a complete lack of understanding of how money being thrown at problems at the very top of Government only make the problem worse and push the problem into the lap of the next government or generation of politicians to skirt around another day.
These and others are all contributory factors to a public-sector-wide malaise where managers and those with responsibility have been conditioned to avoid doing anything that reaches beyond the confines of their own contract and job.
Some would call it a failure to use common sense. Others, that it is basic lack of appreciation of what public services are actually there for. But in many cases the whole lack of interest in really serving the public and tax payers that all of these jobs were created to help is made distinctly worse by the reality that the wages of those in these jobs will alwaysget paid.
The problems that the NHS has will not be solved by simply upping the budgets for any of the parts of it. The money will get spent, but it will never reach the parts that it really should do whilst the culture remains the same. Ultimately without top to bottom and above all cultural reform, the Key Workers and Frontline Clinical Staff throughout the NHS will not ever be valued and given the opportunities that they should have and we would all want them to.
Beyond the effort to ‘protect the NHS’, the Lockdown has began to cause massive problems that are set to reverberate throughout our society in the coming weeks, months and years. The impact of what this Government has done will cause harm to people and the country in many different ways that could have been avoided if we had different politicians in charge.
These are not the people who will put everything that is wrong in the NHS and the Public Sector right. Not now, not after the COVID-19 Pandemic is over, not at anytime thereafter.
The politicians we have today simply don’t and will not try to understand what is actually going on.
So if you love the NHS, the nurses, the doctors, the surgeons, the therapists, the healthcare workers and all of the key staff in our hospitals that make the real part of the NHS work, remember them at the next General Election or when this Government collapses – whichever happens first, and bear in mind that is the point when you can help to make things different for all of them by making a different choice to the one you normally would, and choose an option that will not be available from any of the existing political parties that we know.