Are We Still People?


It isn’t enough to be shocked in the report by the Health Service Ombudsman to the care of old folks in Britain’s hospitals, which uncovered a large number of cases of patients who have been left starving, thirsty, unwashed, in soiled clothing, and without sufficient pain relief. We’ve had report after report, and platitude after platitude in official answers, but nothing appears to change. Why? It isn’t a question of cash. New Labour has poured billions in additional resources into health care.

In part, maybe, this is a function of size. The NHS has 1.3 million workers whose impersonal constructions mitigate against the development of actual bonds between individual staff and patients. In part, this is a focus on systems, goals and box-ticking which robs staff of the time to discuss and care for patients as people who have mental demands in addition to medical issues. That can just get worse as the looming 20bn of reductions come in. Time to take care of patients will probably be squeezed.

For a while we might stop and express indignation. But we then move ahead to the pressing business of our everyday lives. However they WOn’t do much in regards to a society which has hardened its heart against its elderly

But our dearth of humanity and empathy to the elderly represents a heightened self-focus in our society generally. Decades of growing affluence and eating have amplified our want for individual gratification. Old individuals tolerate the responsibility of this callousness. Last year nearly 9,000 criticisms were made to the Health Ombudsman.

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