from John T in Brighton, UK: compare and contrast …

I was proud to be a doctor at the end of the Andrew Marr show this week – not for anything I’d done I hasten to add but for the performance of one of our number. The Herculean efforts of NHS staff is widely reported and rightly lauded and of course most of us were on the doorstep last night – I’m amazed how many decibels I can bang up with a frying pan and plastic spatula. But it was Sarah Gilbert’s interview with Marr that really inspired me – Professor of Vaccinology at Oxford (how niche can you get?) I’ve never had cause to meet her but she comes across as very normal, self-effacing and chasing the Holy Grail for the good of the World and not any personal glory or riches. Her answers were well-informed, clear and honest with Marr stating afterwards that you do get clear answers when you interview Professors. I’d say he’s spent too much time with politicians whereas many other professionals and almost all doctors will be equally candid as it’s dyed into our wool.

Later in the programme he interviewed Michael Gove and it was the usual smoke and mirrors, defensive answers and the stock responses (whatever the question) “we’re working round the clock…”, “we’re working as hard as we can….”. Yes but the point is Mike we’re trying to make up ground for previous delays and errors – as well illustrated in a “Five Page Special” in The Observer of the same day. It’s ingrained as a doctor that honesty and integrity are paramount and I despair at the deficiency in many MPs whose role should encompass leading by example. 

And there’s another thing as Professor Gilbert told of how there are other labs around the World  also pursuing a vaccine and although the race is on, it is not dog eat dog but the race is to find an effective agent as soon as possible and labs collaborate to that end. Oxford have developed a vaccine in a few weeks whereas it would normally be a couple of years or so. Contrast that to the appalling process of Brexit with politicians deadlocked in years of lying and engaging in squabbles and insults more befitting to the local primary school playground. A survey last Summer put politicians as the least trusted profession by a country mile – outscoring the notorious car salesmen by 50% incidentally – and doctors as top of the trusted league with nurses a little way behind in second. I rest my case, your Honour.

As well as dishonesty so duplicity is also anathema to me. Three years ago we saw Theresa May pour praise and gratitude on the firefighters of Grenfell but just two weeks later she voted against lifting the 1% pay cap on public service workers and so did Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab and Matt Hancock. The consequent scenes of Tory whooping were disrespectful and a disgrace. In the midst of a different crisis MPs left, right and centre express their heartfelt gratitude to NHS staff, and other public service workers, with BJ taking a lead role. First off clapping outside No 10 and then following a sojourn in ICU mentioning two nurses by name in dispatches which I think he should have done privately – to pick them out simply on account of the vagaries of rostering whilst many work equally hard up and down the country seems wrong to me. Presumably Boris was too poorly to object that one of the nurses was born in Portugal – an import from the EU would surely have been beyond the pale to a more robust BJ. But the key question is whether, as the country goes into recession the public services can expect the pay rise they deserve or will nurses pursue an alternative increase – the number resorting to food banks. MPs got a surreptitious 3.1% pay rise this month and I’d propose we give public service workers three times that and let the common people and not self-centred MPs decide. I feel another referendum coming on.

But it could be worse……although I’d rate BJ as the most egotesticle (sic) and inept PM I can recall he’s still trumped by his friend Donald who said this morning that we’re lucky to have BJ!!  I didn’t watch The Big Night In Last Night but I’ll bet there wasn’t anything as funny as what I saw on Breakfast News earlier. The Donald suggesting that we could defeat corona virus with ultraviolet light and if necessary get that into the body through the skin or failing that there’s intravenous disinfectant. Once I’d stopped guffawing I was left with two serious questions. Please God no one will believe him and reach for the syringe or dare a buddy to do so and secondly how on Earth can a nation elect this guy to be the most powerful person in the World?

But back in the real World of sanity the first two doses of vaccine have been administered yesterday to kick off the Oxford trial….we wait and watch with  fingers crossed.

2 thoughts on “from John T in Brighton, UK: compare and contrast …

  1. A propos of Profs Costello and Gilbert, I have my own little professor too. Peter Openshaw was in my year at Guy’s, except he did a B Sc. We were almost friends, I think he might have invited me to his wedding but I did n’t go. He’s now Prof of Immunology at Imperial, and you may have seen him on Questiontime with Fiona Bruce a week or so back. I thought he was rather impressive, and gives further evidence for John’s contention that profs are nice, straight forward interviewees. Chris

    Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.


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