From John in Brighton: It’s Thursday, it’s eight o’clock, it’s Clapadoc

It’s Friday, it’s five O’Clock, it’s Crackerjack! On a weekend when we look back 75 years we of a certain age only need to go back 55 for that gem of childhood TV. Albeit in very different circumstances we now have It’s Thursday, it’s eight O’Clock, it’s Clapadoc – the whole of the NHS in fact. And – a bit like the government care workers were added as an afterthought so it became Clap for Carers. Last week the turnout was low and I wondered if the gloss was wearing thin after seven weeks but a resurgence this week suggested otherwise. I suspect it was simply that a week ago it was bitterly chilly and the warmth of feeling this Thursday was pathetic fallacy after a day of bright sunshine. Let’s hope the waning virus doesn’t pick up any tips about a comeback in the weeks ahead giving a V sign (non-Churchillian) to BJ in response to any concessions he offers tonight..
As I recall the clap was initiated after a nurse went viral (perhaps it’s time to rename that phenomenon) as she tearfully reported how she shopped at the end of her shift only to find the stock-pilers had left aisles of empty shelves. The clapping extended into fundraising and a nigh-on hysteria as best shown by Captain – sorry Colonel – Tom raising over thirty million quid walking back and forth in his garden. That’s fantastic but it’s an extreme behaviour. Food donations poured in up and down the land along with various other goodwill offerings to NHS workers. The NHS has been the jewel in the country’s crown since it’s inception three years after VE day, one time envy of the World but perhaps a little less so of late and close to the hearts of the population. But Covid has driven that appreciation to another level.  Maybe it’s a genuine reassurance that every one of us is grateful that if afflicted the facility and expertise will be there for us and without a monumental invoice at discharge, maybe it’s sympathy for those working long shifts in sweaty and uncomfortable PPE or maybe anxiety and even guilt that others will be working at risk to themselves and their families because they haven’t got the PPE.  But Covid has also unveiled a large elephant which we’ve managed to brush under the carpet to date (there must be a cartoon there if someone’s not already done it). How often we hear of Matt referred to as Health Secretary but often minus the second half of his portfolio……and Social Care. As we salute the wartime generation and the gratitude we owe them,  many of the survivors live in care homes dependent on committed carers working under conditions at least as challenging in many ways as the NHS and paid at a lowly level. Sadly the staff have not received the government support they need and deserve despite Matt claiming that care homes had been a top priority since the start of the pandemic.  The evidence suggests otherwise.
Despite the public outpouring many of the NHS workers would not see themselves as heroes but simply doing a job. And indeed some are now acknowledging that they are in employment and can afford food which may contrast with the many who have lost their jobs and some are suggesting that perhaps food donations, albeit much appreciated, could be better given to those who are struggling and to food banks and the homeless. A detour to the nearest care home might not go amiss.
But what about the future?  In retrospect errors have been made and there will be lessons to be learnt in planning for future unpredictable health challenges. Regarding the NHS the progressive increase in funding is to be welcomed but against ever rising demand as the population ages and treatments and drugs become dearer so it’s running to keep up. Along the way there have also been “efficiency savings” – at what point does that euphemism become a cutback?  In a short piece in The Observer of 26 April Kenan Malik made the point that heroism stands out more in the context of lack of resources or poor conditions. This is well illustrated by the Brazilian Archbishop Helder Camara whom Malik referred to “When I give food to the poor they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a Communist”. We need to ensure that our NHS is appropriately funded and settle for no less. And may the profile of care of the elderly and vulnerable come out of the shadows with staff given the facilities and support that they need and a fair wage. In February Dame Esther Rantzen et al made the case to BJ for a dedicated Minister for the Elderly – as far as I’m aware we await a response…..

One thought on “From John in Brighton: It’s Thursday, it’s eight o’clock, it’s Clapadoc

  1. Another very excellent blog John. You’re like a professional hack, churning out high quality essays regular as clockwork. I hope a few more “likes” come your way after this one. By the way Nick, I forgot to enquire further about “Jane the virgin”. This sounds like an oxymoron. More details please! Chris.

    Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.


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