23 February 2013

The White Rose or Weiße Rose

I'm ashamed to say that I had never heard of the White Rose until the recent 70th anniversary. For those who may still not know, the White Rose was a non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany. Four medical students, Hans Scholl, Christoph Probst, Alex Schmorell and Willi Graf formed its core. Scholl,  his sister Sophie and Probst were beheaded on 22nd February 1943. Graf and Schmorell suffered the same fate some months later. Their crime was to produce leaflets criticising the Nazis. You can listen to the story here.

My parents took the view that the Germans are easily led. I take the same view. But I differ in that I think we are all easily led. Humans are built to be led. It's what enables us to operate in societies instead of just squabbling with each other for scarce resources.

Since the time of Hitler, the way we are controlled has changed. We are told there's a democracy. And many of us may believe that. But the reality is that we have very limited choice at election time and the main political parties have a stranglehold on the process. In parliament your MP is told strictly how to vote. He's not his own man. Only rarely can a well-meaning independent reach the Commons.

But it's worse than this. The policies of the main parties are not really determined by the wishes of the electorate. We all know of the strong support for the NHS. But the Coalition has changed the basis of the NHS without any public support. And before them Labour was intent on heading the same way.

It might not be so bad if our masters were acting in our best interests but they are not. They are acting in the best interests of themselves and their paymasters.  At least when Hitler was in charge there was a visible unequivocal villain. Now the corridors of power are controlled by a more insidious evil of which few of us are much aware. That evil takes the form of the lobbying industry. Ironically this scandal-in-the-waiting was recognised by the prime minister himself. Judge for yourself whether he has met his promise to stop the lobbyists from influencing government policy.

The effects of the lobbying industry on our lives is all pervasive. Examples are legion. Here I mention only the NHS. I do not know of anybody who does not take the view that, in the NHS, we have had the most cost-effective healthcare system in the world. It may not be the best. But it has been the cheapest. Yet we are told we can no longer afford it. Labour, LibDem or Tory the message is the same. It's the same message because it originates from the same people: the lobbying industry.

The message that so many believe - that healthcare is unaffordable - has to be wrong. But few question it. You cannot, in a civilised society, just leave people to die. You have to look after them. There is no choice. That's why the British people love the NHS so much. There is something uniquely good about ensuring that all one's fellow beings get looked after. And, if you accept that people have to be looked after, it follows, if money is short, that you need to look after them as cheaply as possible. We are not talking about giving everybody everything they might wish for. But we are talking about giving everybody the key care that they really need.

So there is an unequivocal, but largely unvoiced, argument to keep the NHS as it is in order to keep the costs of healthcare down. What though have our governments been doing? They have been increasing the costs of healthcare by introducing markets into the NHS. They have, of course, duped people into thinking the NHS is inefficient - despite all the evidence to the contrary - and, on this basis, have been paying hospitals per item of service instead of en bloc. What's wrong with that, I hear you ask. The problem is that it encourages more work which costs more and not less work which costs less. You see, in health care, not all work that could be done needs to be done.

So how have we got here? We got here because of the lobbying industry. What interest do the lobbying industry have in a government service like the NHS? The answer is none while the NHS is a publicly-provided service. What the outsiders want is to profit from a slice of the money provided by the taxpayer and they want the service run down so that people have to buy health care themselves privately.  And that is why the NHS is being privatised and why we are losing hospital beds.

So where does all this fit in with the White Rose? The answer is that there are still malign influences around today and we, the British people, have been duped into being led in the wrong direction just as the people of Germany were. Worst of all, the British people have largely acquiesced in all of this. There is no excuse. We won't be executed for putting the case for the NHS to the people of Eastleigh. But I bet there won't be many people there tomorrow when I plan to lend a hand to the National Health Action Party. I hope I'm wrong.


hyperCRYPTICal said...

I think that the majority of the British people have not acquiesced to the malign influences of those in government and the lobbying industry that are seemingly intent on privatising the NHS – they remain largely unaware of it – this being largely due to scant reporting of the media.

The media feed us what they believe wets our appetite, what will sell print – this recently glaringly obvious in the drowning of Mid Staffs in the ocean of importance of horse meat being in our burgers.

We quickly forget – how many docs remember the plight of their colleagues in Bahrain and continue to raise their voices in protest. None? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19783355

With regards to the slow death of the NHS – tis a pity that docs have changed their allegiance from blogging to that of twitter as conversation has become ‘in-house’ again – and the general public has lost perhaps their only window to the real world. Even the once prolific JD appears to have lost interest and comments left are few.

With regards to the National Health Action Party – this comment (by anonymous) on a previous post

“This party will fail, and fail badly. As it's top echelons are dominated by the medical profession it will be seen as nothing more than doctor-centric and representing their own self interest. Had it been set up by patients' interest activists, maybe it would have had more credibility… … … …”

says it all – unfortunate as it may be. A drive must be made to include patient groups – and soon.


Anna :o]

Dr Grumble said...

I've always said that the NHS will be lost unless the patients fight for it themselves. They will fight for their local hospital but not for the whole NHS. Perhaps they don't understand. Which, of course, is what the government has intended.

Jobbing Doctor said...

Well, Anna, I am well and truly told off!

I did wonder if I was running out of things to say, and that people might get a bit bored of the blog.

That will encourage me (in the last 10 weeks of my life as a Jobbing Doctor) to keep going.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Patients will fight for their local hospital – but not the NHS in its entirety as they really really don’t understand. I would guess – and imagine this to be an accurate guess – that the majority of patients, that is, the majority of the British public are completely unaware that the death knell has sounded for the NHS.

The media have been very selective in reporting the HSCB and thus the HSCA and I think we probably know who the censors here were… Were it not for blogs – it is doubtful that I would have knowledge of what is to come – and this is where blogs are ESSENTIAL for raising the alarm.

My nursing colleagues have no knowledge – apart from that of my telling – and appear to have little interest for it does not affect them and their families NOW.

My little bit has been that of blog posts – admittedly in the past - for as doctor blogs dwindle, the fire has been lost in my belly as it seems it has for those docs who now blog little – and it appears to be that as most docs change their allegiance to twitter – I am somehow excluded from the fight and it is thus so that patients (that know) wont fight the loss as they have drifted from being important to that of someone whose twitter (reply) wont be responded too as they do not belong to the inner circle. They are excluded from the fight.

Other little bits include signing petitions (via 38 degrees), writing to my MP, writing to Lansley, Cameron, displaying posters on my porch window, etc. But as doc blogs dwindle – I feel alone, excluded from the club…

And JD – I do lament the passing of your prolific posts…

the a&e charge nurse said...

"My nursing colleagues have no knowledge – apart from that of my telling – and appear to have little interest for it does not affect them and their families NOW" - oh, how true.

With regard to the main post - the patterns by which lobbyists line the pockets of their rich benefactors is well established, and recently has become more brazen in the UK.

Sadly our politicos simply lie through the nose and nobody is actually shocked anymore - my own theory is that by definition it takes a certain sort of person who is so determined to climb the greasy pole.

the a&e charge nurse said...

As an aside I recently watched this dramatisation of the Sophie Schull story and really enjoyed it

Anonymous said...

I'm flattered that Anna (hyperCRIPTICal) has quoted me in her first response to this post. However, it's no use just seeking patient involvement. Any new party would have to be initiated and run by patients to have any success, maybe one such as this http://www.avma.org.uk/
Simply icluding patient stooges such as members of "Patient Participation Panels" won't work.


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