Monday, 12 September 2016

Hospital Porter Awarded

John Jackson is a porter at the Royal Blackburn Hospital and has just won the Kate Granger Award for Compassionate Care. The award was set up by Dr Kate Granger MBE when she was terminally ill with cancer; she sadly died in July after selecting the latest winner. She wanted to decorate healthcare staff who show especially kind and thoughtful conduct towards patients. I am overjoyed at this news. My extremely proud and dignified brother porter, John Jackson, has my most sincere congratulations. Source: Here's Dr Granger's blog:

Friday, 2 September 2016

New Junior Doctors' Strike

In the spring of 2016, NHS junior doctors went on strike for the first time ever in the Service's seventy year history. They did it to protest against new contracts which will cause a cut in their pay and increases to their workload. There was a lot of public support for them and they even wrote a song that went to the top of the hit parade, see: This has become the biggest act of industrial action ever in the NHS. Strikes in the NHS are a very serious matter. When the railways go on strike long distance commuters might miss a day's work. When health services go on strike people die. There's no doubt about that. This is the dilemma we face. However, the state of healthcare in Britain today is such a sorry one that I think it is now immoral not to strike. We need to do whatever it takes to change things. Far more people will die from our inaction than from any walkouts. I made this point over last year's JR porters' strike, see: The first junior doctors' strike could begin as soon as the 12th of September. Coverage of the strike in the media has been predictably scathing. Here's a prime example: The word "plotting" is deeply pejorative and the article emphasizes the loss of service the strike will cause, therefore portraying the doctors as selfish and heartless.

Monday, 29 August 2016

YouTube comment I'm Pleased With

I don't often share my social media activity on the HPWA blog, but I'm going to on this occasion. I watched a YouTube video by an Irish user called Dave who goes by the handle "Computing Forever". The video is a critique of another YouTuber I like called "Sargon of Akkad"; and I've mentioned him before, see: The nature of Sargon's and Dave's argument doesn't matter in this context; my concern comes at about twenty-three minutes into the film, for about fifteen minutes, where the subject of "janitors" comes up. "Janitor" is what the Irish call a cleaner. It's a similar situation to Richard Dawkins' pronouncements on an Indian street cleaner, see: What Dave and Sargon say speaks for itself: Below is a copy of my comment:

23:00 I don't agree with Sargon, but... On the subject of janitors, what we in England call "cleaners", earning more. You're right, they should not get paid as much as the software designers whose offices they clean, let alone the CEO. However (correct me if I misunderstood you) it's a mistake simply to shrug (like Atlas ;-)) your shoulders and pull the bottom out of their employment contract. They are still essential members of the company's team, in their own way. No software gets produced if the offices are dirty and the bins overflowing. Likewise if Wall Street is not swept clean, Manhattan would very quickly become buried under a mountain of its own waste. These jobs may be low-skilled, but they're not no-skilled. In departments of so-called "menial" jobs where the staff turnover is too high, the unwritten tricks of the trade become lost. I was a hospital porter for twenty-three years and I watched it happen. I saw the service degenerate over time and this resulted directly in loss of quality across the board to the point where over five thousand patients a year were dying in the British NHS from preventable infections. So you neglect the janitors etc at your cost. By all means keep their wages and conditions down to a reasonable level, but not too low. Keep their services professional and not casualized. Make those people feel appreciated and proud of their contribution to the business.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

NHS Whistblower branded "Too Honest"

Maha Yassaie used to be a chief pharmacist in the NHS' Berkshire West primary care trust. She was dismissed after disciplinary procedures when she alerted senior management of her concerns; these included a colleague of hers who was being bribed by a pharmaceutical company to prescribe certain drugs and a doctor who attempted to commit suicide using controlled drugs from her pharmacy. Mrs Yassaie was then labelled a "bully" by management. She was cleared of the allegations, but was still sacked in the end on the grounds that "her relationship with the trust had broken down"... how conveniently vague. She believes this was their attempt to cover up the misconduct that she had alerted them to. The independent investigator appointed told the former pharmacist that "...if I had your values I would find it very difficult to work in the NHS." Source: There are some parallels between Mrs Yassaie's experience and my own dismissal in 2012. I was also accused of bullying. In my case the allegation was particularly heinous because my alleged victim was "disabled"; meaning that he suffers from a comparatively minor learning difficulty and is registered under the Protection of Vulnerable Adults law. I also suspected even back then that honesty is not the best policy if you want a long and fruitful career in British public healthcare. During the last St Theo's Day party, see:, I found out that a particular man I served with up to the time of my discharge is still there. This man is notoriously bad at his job. He is lazy, untrustworthy, incompetent and unreliable; yet he is tolerated when I wasn't. He is still there when I am not. Management simply will not sack him, or even reprimand him. I've christened porters like these "untouchables". This man understands his status very well and arrogantly laughs in the face of anybody who criticizes him, every time he sneaks away for another three-hour cigarette break, or disappears off duty early, only to be late the next day or off sick for no reason. A lot of porters will back me up on this; the better you are at your job, the more you get picked on by the boss. It's very frustrating. It's as if the NHS doesn't want decent servicemen. They actively favour dullards and delinquents who they know will run the system into the ground. When I posted this story on social media the other day, lots of people commented to say that they also had been victimized for being honourable and hard-working. As each day passes I regret the ending of my NHS portering career less and less. Maybe this is why.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Happy St Theo’s Day 2016

On behalf of every serving hospital porter, every former hospital porter, and everybody else who loves, appreciates and supports us, with all the Pride and Dignity of my Extremely Proud and Dignified Brother and Sister Porters, I'd like to wish all my friends and readers, a very happy St Theo's Day. For the first time I have covered my pre-St Theo’s Day procedure on HPANWO TV:

Friday, 20 May 2016

St Theo's Day 2016 Fliers

The fliers for this year's St Theo's Day are finished. Pretty soon I shall print and distribute them. This year, as with last year, I have produced two different fliers, one for the Oxfordshire hospitals on my doorstep; and another to be distributed to other institutions around the country. I will send the second national flier by post, addressed to the Porters in those institutions.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Wittgenstein's Poker

On the evening of the 25th of October 1946 that great hospital porter... and occasional part-time philosopher... Ludwig Wittgenstein was at a philosopher’s meeting, the Cambridge University Moral Sciences Club, with one of his contemporaries, Sir Karl Popper having a debate, the details of which are described in the book linked below. I didn’t realize this, but philosophers’ debates can sometimes become very vitriolic, and in this case the hot-headed hospital porter became so enraged that he walked over to the room’s hearth, picked up a poker, and moved to attack his civilian colleague with it. What happened next is a bit vague, but one version of events relates that another philosopher, maybe the famous Bertrand Russell who was also in the room, managed to hold Wittgenstein back and pacify him. Wittgenstein then stormed out of the room. If something like that got his goat, then I wonder how he maintained his poise with the fickle and arrogant pharmacists at Guys Hospital The story was related in a bestselling book in 2001:

This story has an interesting conclusion. During the intervening seventy years the room where the meeting took place has been refurbished and the poker was removed and lost, as often happens renovations, but amazingly it has recently resurfaced and Alan McFarlane has put a label on it; I imagine he’ll mount it on the wall in pride of place or put it in a museum or something. See: This story inspired me to name my Mind Set radio show The Poker, see: