Dear Professor Baker,
It seems like only yesterday that another Professor – Stephen Hawking – felt compelled to raise concerns in the press about the current state of the NHS. If you recall, Hawking’s critique of Jeremy Hunt’s predilection for statistical cherry-picking prompted an extraordinary barrage of tweets from the Health Secretary, admonishing one of the world’s greatest scientists for his cluelessness on the matter of, well, scientific methodology.
Professor Baker, your interestingly-timed intervention today has prompted quite the barrage of headlines itself, hasn’t it? An NHS ‘unfit for the 21st century’, indeed? And that picture you paint of A&E departments’ disgraceful ‘unsafe practices’ – our ‘wholly unsatisfactory’ arrangements that ‘endanger patients, as well as denying them basic privacy and dignity’. It’s almost as if you think we’re somehow choosing to ‘keep piling patients into corridors where staff cannot even see them’ or to force patients to queue, hour upon hour, in ambulances outside log-jammed hospitals. Actually, you go further, don’t you? You directly blame us for the hellish conditions that patients and staff alike endured last winter, condemning our culture of ‘learned helplessness’ that leaves our patients abandoned, unmonitored, without even essentials like oxygen.
There’s just so much blame in your interview, isn’t there? Previous NHS staff, current NHS staff, ‘archaic’ NHS systems, bad managers, bad previous governments. Blimey. No-one, it seems, is immune from your blame. Except, that is, the one glaring exception. The one cherry you chose not to pick, so to speak.