Jane Bates: Blame game

Headlines hide the truth, says Jane Bates.

Headlines hide the truth, says Jane Bates

Not long ago, nurses were the baddies in the NHS. Uncaring, unprofessional, too posh to wash… you name the accusation and they threw it at us. I am surprised we were not held responsible for the Wall Street Crash or the sinking of the Lusitania.

Now they have finished with us, it is the consultants that the government and the media are demonising. If you are admitted to hospital at the weekend, you are 16% more likely to die, it has been alleged, because of a marked absence of these ‘fat cats’ who spend their time on the golf course – a lazy, outdated cliché if ever there was one – instead of on the wards caring for their patients.

One might argue that, considering their power and influence, consultants’ shoulders are broad enough to take the criticism, and when you get an idea of their eye-watering salaries and reported bonuses, sympathy can be somewhat difficult to find.

But we also know how hard most of them work, and that many of them are indeed on duty at weekends. Then you realise that this is yet another government ploy to divert blame onto the workers. A divide and rule tactic.

Let’s publish the amounts they earn so that the rest of the NHS staff, impoverished after years of ‘nada’ in the way of a pay rise, can resent them good ‘n’ proper. We are a large workforce, and there is a lot more ‘us’ than ‘them’.

But is this fair? What are the grounds for putting the entire blame for this 16% figure on consultants? I am not aware of any analysis regarding this statistic. Other possible factors include patient behaviour and the Working Time Directive, but you can bet that chronically unsafe staffing levels have an awful lot to do with it.

The number of NHS employees has been pared down to the quick, to everyone’s detriment, and blaming the consultants is just another way of deflecting the truth.

About the author

Jane Bates

Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire

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