Friday, 27 December 2013

Hospital at Christmas


One of the things I don’t miss about being a Hospital Porter is having to work through Christmas. There was no special roster for the Christmas and New Year period; if you’re shift was down for that day, you worked it, end of. I worked on Christmas Day numerous occasions. Getting an early shift wasn’t so bad because you finished at 2 PM and could go home. But if you had a late shift you had to start at 2 PM and if it were a night shift 10 PM. This meant you had the prospect of your work looming over you all day and you couldn’t drink much alcohol. Once you arrived at work though it wasn’t too bad. There was a different atmosphere in the hospital than usual. Some of the staff would be wearing tinsel, holly and even Santa hats. Christmas songs would be played over loudspeakers and nurses would pass you the odd mince pie on wards you passed through. Both the patients and staff generally would be in a happy, Christmassy mood and you’d feel humbled about your own problems when you consider the patients who were forced to live in hospital over Christmas. And then your Senior would hand you a voucher for a free meal at the staff cafeteria, including turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce and of course Christmas pudding for afterwards; only brandy butter was off limits because of the ban on drinking at work. Depending on which chef was on, you might also have a few extra mince pies flung in your direction too. When I was a Theatre Porter we even had a heated trolley of food brought down from the kitchen to the department. There would be jokes, laughter and crackers pulled and sometimes it felt sad to go home. We also had a carol choir at my hospital, organized by a lady who worked in the linen store, which I joined. A few days before Christmas we would spend an evening travelling all over the hospital singing in every ward. The patients and nurses would smile at us, some would even join in. We always had Christmas cards from management and some years they’d even organize a special dinners where they’d act as waiters and serve us; very often one or two of them would come in on Christmas Day to say hello and wish us Season’s Greetings. These are my memories of Christmas at the hospital.

This is now the third Christmas since my departure from Portering, if you include the one where I was under suspension. However I’m still in contact with some of my Extremely Proud and Dignified Brother and Sister Porters and they’ve kept me informed of any developments there; and from what they’ve told me this year’s Christmas tells a very different story. The vouchers, special dinners are all gone and the cards, mince pies and music far less frequent. With it has gone the happiness that we all used to enjoy. No doubt this lack of good cheers will reflect on the patients, their well-being and the level of care they receive. One Porter I know puts it very bluntly: “Well, Carillion (the Facilities contractor) didn't disappoint this year. 1pm, no management in sight already. No indoors Christmas lunch. No vouchers, or at least sign of recognizing best workers, who left the best of 'em during whole year inside hospital walls. No collective 'Merry Christmas' card, from WHOLE management (not one person). Not that, having similar experience of previous three years, I hoped for anything else... Just a bunch of mercenaries, that what we are for this 'PLC'. Fuck you very much, too.” This is definitely symptomatic of the general malaise that has set in throughout the entire NHS. The cause is underfunding, privatization and increasingly stressful and restrictive working practices, see: http://hpanwo-hpwa.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/10-fee-to-see-your-gp.html. The closing of the social club is another symptom of this degeneration, see:  http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/last-night-of-jr-social-club.html. Is it too late to stop it, can it be reversed? I don’t know; I’m afraid I have my doubts.  

Thursday, 21 November 2013

£10 Fee to see your GP

A leading "non-governmental" think-tank has advised the NHS that patients should be charged to use its services. It's suggesting a £10 levy on GP appointments as well as "hotel fees" for inpatient stays in NHS hospitals, see: http://www.express.co.uk/news/health/443851/Paying-10-to-see-your-GP-will-help-raise-billions-for-the-NHS. This may sound shocking, and on one level it is; but should it be? Since the early days of Margaret Thatcher's government in the 80's the line has been repeated again and again and again: "No matter what reforms the government brings in, the NHS will still always be free. There will never ever be charges to the patient... we promise!" And every time that cliche was uttered so many of us knew that it was a lie. It was told for two reasons: the short memory most people have for important matters between sport and soap operas; and this strange notion that it doesn't matter what the government does, so long as they say nice things to us. The organization behind this report is called Reform and it describes itself as "dedicated to setting out a better way to deliver public services and economic prosperity". It describes itself as "non-party", yet its director Andrew Haldenby is also linked to the Centre for Policy Studies dedicated to neoliberal economics and also the Conservative Research Department which is a part of the ruling Conservative Party. As I said in a previous HPWA article, this is not news, it is "un-news", see: http://hpanwo-hpwa.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/the-nhs-to-be-privatized.html. I would be very surprised if this advice to the Government is not taken, what's more they'll find some bait in the trap too! Some piece of propaganda to justify it, like this: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/health-tourism-crackdown.html. Even the above Daily Express article is gushing over how many "billions" this move will save the taxpayer.  

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Stanley Spencer Tour

A new series of exhibitions has been launched showing paintings by that great Hospital Porter and artist Stanley Spencer (1891-1959), see: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/nov/06/stanley-spencer-first-world-war-paintings-uk-tour and: http://www.stanleyspencer.org.uk/. When he wasn't Portering at the Bristol Royal Infirmary he fought in the Great War and also produced some amazing paintings. He certainly deserves to be included among the Hospital Porters who changed the world, see:  http://hpanwo.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/hospital-porters-who-changed-world.html.  

Monday, 2 September 2013

NHS Sickness Rates Treble

It's been reported that staff sickness rates in Oxfordshire's NHS Primary Care Trusts have increased threefold in the last few years. For some reason this is considered news when such an outcome should be pretty obvious and predictable, see: http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/10647022.Stress_rises_at_hospitals_as_staff_sick_days_treble/. As I've mentioned many times before the NHS is being demolished in order to privatize it completely and openly, see: http://hpanwo-hpwa.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/the-nhs-to-be-privatized.html. There are fewer staff expected to treat more patients for less pay and fewer resources; morale has never been so low. What on Earth does anybody expect? Of course staff sickness rates are going to rise! Luckily the above article does acknowledge that; it doesn't attempt to villify NHS staff as "scroungers" who've "had it too easy" and pour emasculating scorn on them for their lack of moral fibre. However it's no good Carl Jenkinson (a former Porter) setting up a "Wellbeing Centre" at Ockie Health; the root cause of the problem must be tackled, and that is the UK Government's entire health policy for the last forty years.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Portering hits Hollywood

I am now an official consultant to the movie industry... on Hospital Portering matters! Yes, I've been contacted by the film director and scriptwriter Greg Loftin asking for some information. Greg Loftin is best known for writing and directing the movie Saxon starring Sean Harris, see: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0811056/ . Today he is working on a screenplay and production design for a new film, as yet untitled. One of the scene's is set in a hospital; a major character is badly injured and under armed police guard because a group of violent gangsters are trying to murder him. His best friend and his girlfriend have to bust him secretly out under the noses of the staff and police guards. To do this the friend has to disguise himself as a Porter and the girlfriend get a white coat and be disguised as a doctor. It was great fun talking to Greg and working out ways in which this could be achieved, combining his experience as a film maker and mine on the geography and functions of a hospital, and the people who serve in them. Greg asked me lots of questions about the culture of Hospital Portering and hospital life in general. I related some of the many anecdotes of the fascinating and exciting life of a Porter, everything from ghost stories to bomb scares! It made me feel rather nostalgic; I realize now that I do miss Portering despite my various positive exhalations to the contrary. I'm very pleased Greg decided to bring me into his project in this capacity; in all modesty, he's definitely got the best man for the job. I'll be following progress on the film's production and hope to see it on a screen near you, soon!

Friday, 19 July 2013

Disorderlies

A while ago I wrote an article about how Hospital Porters were portrayed by the media, see: http://hpanwo.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/hospital-porters-in-media.html. I was dismayed to find that, with the exception of my own novel, there were no occasions in which Hospital Porters were presented in a positive light, but then one of my old Portering buddies made me aware of a film that I'd never heard of before, called Disorderlies (Warner Bros 1987). I watched it with great excitement, hoping for an exception to the disheartening rule. It's available on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e81AphGUPH4. The American healthcare designation "orderly" doesn't directly translate as a Porter; it's clear that the role encompasses that of a Porter, but it overlaps with that of a British HCA- Healthcare Assistant too. The film is a mild and light-hearted slapstick comedy starring the famous rap trio, The Fat Boys; so named for their corpulent physiques. They play three hospital orderlies who are employed by the nephew of an elderly and terminally ill billionaire to care for his ailing uncle. Unknown to The Fat Boys' characters, they have been deliberately selected because the nephew considers them dangerously incompetent and so will speed his uncle's demise. He is a compulsive gambler and wishes to inherit his uncle's wealth as quickly as possible in order to pay off a debt to a violent gangster. But the plan backfires because the new orderlies' hedonistic and zany antics give the uncle a new lease of life. The boys take him out to nightclubs and discoes. The fun and excitement are very healing and he begins to recover. The jokes are almost all physical and are often accompanied by cartoon sound effects. I found this movie very enjoyable because for the first time I've seen Hospital Porters on the silver screen who are not contemptuous fools, brutal criminals or insecure wannabe doctors and nurses. Instead we have three Hospital Porters who are good-natured, funny, inadvertently brave and even heroic, within the slightly simplistic style of the film. They're also talented; in one scene they perform one of their raps songs; in another they drive a car from the back seat using nothing but wire. So well done, The Fat Boys and all the rest of the cast. Thank you, director Michael Schultz and screenwriters Mark Feldberg and Mitchell Klebanoff. Thanks for portraying Hospital Porters in a more positive light for a change.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Happy St Theo's Day 2013

On behalf of every serving Hospital Porter, every former Hospital Porter, and everybody else who loves, appreciates and supports us, I'd like to wish all my friends and readers, a very happy St Theo's Day.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

St Theo's Day 2013

The fliers for this year's St Theo's Day are finished. In due course I shall print and distribute them. This 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, which I will send the second national flier by post. See here for my HPANWO TV reportage of the 2011 St Theo's Day party at the John Radcliffe Sports and Social Club: http://hpanwo-tv.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/st-theos-day-party-2011.html St Theo's Flyer 2013 (JR) by Ben Emlyn-Jones 

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The NHS to be Privatized


Is there a name for a news story that is in the news when it shouldn't be? Perhaps "un-news" or "anti-news". I'm talking about a journalistic truism, for example: "Official government sources say that there's a strong likelihood that the Prime Minister will attend Parliament some time this month." There's such a story in the news today, it's about the privatization of the National Health Service: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/02/will-lib-dems-halt-hunts-backdoor-nhs-privatisation. The reason I think this shouldn't be news is that everybody knows the Government are privatizing the NHS, they've been doing it for almost forty years! Plans for NHS privatization were probably hatched soon after the NHS' introduction in 1947 and small reforms in that direction were made from the start. I was an NHS serviceman for twenty-three years and so know very well that it was happening because I saw it from the inside, but even to the general public it must have been obvious. I think this subject illustrates something important about our relationship to our governments.

We in the UK are very lucky; few countries have a publicly-funded free healthcare system available to all. Most nations have a system of health insurance like Medicare in the United States. Under these systems you insure your health like you do anything else, for instance your house or your car. This means that the insurer will have to assess you for risk in order to calculate your premiums, as he would with the example of a car or house. If you are generally fit and well and have had few illnesses then your premiums will be low, but if you develop a long term health problem, like asthma, diabetes or arthritis, your premiums will go up. If these illnesses endure for a long period of time or worsen then the insurance company may well decide that you present too much of a risk and cancel your contract; your body essentially becomes a write-off. For this reason in nations where free public healthcare institutions exist, the citizens are always very fond of them and would never willingly give them up. But at the same time most people have the naive concept that if their government did choose to dismantle their free healthcare system they'd come on the TV news and announce it openly; this is not how governments work at all. What they do when they want to introduce an unpopular policy is use several tricks that have been identified. In the case of the British NHS privatization they have used gradualism. David Icke calls this "the Stepping Stones Approach" or "Totalitarian Tip-Toe". Another popular analogy is the "Frog in a Saucepan": If you throw a frog into a pan of boiling water it will jump straight out again so quickly that it will not suffer harm; but if you throw a frog into a pan of cold water and very slowly turn up the heat it will swim around quite happily while it cooks! This scam has also been used to introduce the European Union. NHS privatization began in the 1960's when charges were introduced for dentists; this was done under a Labour government, the first of Harold Wilson's. This is another important myth to bust: Democracy is a con! See here for background: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/who-did-you-vote-for.html. NHS privatization is considered the brainchild of Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government of the 1980's, but that's false; when Labour retook Downing Street in 1997 they didn't only continue the policies of the previous government, the same policies they'd spent the last eighteen years lambasting, they accelerated them! In fact Tony Blair went into areas of private finance that Thatcher would never have dared to tread.

What happened was that during the 1980's the NHS was financially starved by budget cuts; then in the late 80's, when I joined Hospital Portering, hospitals were allowed to leave local Health Authority control and become "independent" trusts. At the same time hospital ancillary services, including my own, were contracted out to private companies. This was a disaster and was eventually reversed, but not before enormous damage had been done to the quality of the service and long term standards of practice; you could say that the policy did its job! This was followed by PFI- the Private Finance Initiative; this meant that all building and renovation work done in the NHS, and indeed on all Government premises, would be carried out by contractors under a credit agreement. At my hospital, the John Radcliffe, the company Carillion plc was brought in to build the West Wing, a six hundred million pound extension which included over three hundred beds for the district's neurology, plastics, ear, nose and throat services, and the Oxford Eye Hospital. Basically everything which had been housed at the old Radcliffe Infirmary site, see: http://hpanwo-tv.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/radcliffe-infirmary-site-in-oxford_7.html. The Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust is paying Carillion plc back the money it cost to do this work; but the loan is for thirty-three years and will cost far more in terms of interest. I remember people saying at the time: "Can't they see this will bankrupt the Trust!" Yes! But perhaps it's meant to! And this is my prediction for the future: The various NHS trusts will default on the loans and the contractors will repossess their constructions, exactly like a mortgage-lender would for a private house. I can see GP's being made to charge patients for visits, clinic appointment fees next, then "bed-rent" for inpatients... and we will look back at what has taken place over the last few decades and say: "How on Earth did this happen!? We never agreed to this!" But we did. We agreed through our apathy, our naivete and inability to rumble the Government's ruse.

I'm writing this article from one level of knowledge when I know there is a far higher one. Many more issues are involved. I'm well aware that the privatization of the NHS is only a subsidiary concern when we take into account the domination of the Pharmaceutical industry. Whether we have an NHS or not, the healthcare system is merely a marketplace for Big Pharma and I'm very concerned about that, see: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/reginald-gill-cancer-therapist-in.html. But I think it is still important to understand if only as an example of how the Frog in a Saucepan, Totalitarian Tip-Toe, whatever you choose to call it, works. It's a lesson we need to learn because the Government will try to use this trick to dupe us again. As James Madison, the fourth President of the United States once said over two hundred and fifty years ago: "I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Jimmy Savile in Hospital Satanic Underworld


Reports have emerged that Jimmy Savile engaged in Satanic rituals while serving as a Porter at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. See: http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/370439/Jimmy-Savile-was-part-of-satanic-ring. The witness described an ordeal that took place in 1975 and came forward to relate it to a therapist in 1992, many years before the story broke in the mainstream media in 2012. The incident took place in the hospital's basement, which, like that at my hospital the John Radcliffe, is huge and labyrinthine. It consists of service tunnels, underground storerooms, boilers, tanks and other machinery spaces. The witness describes him as "not the leader"; then who was!? The witness was aged just twelve at the time; nevertheless she was brutally beaten and raped by the adults present, including Savile. Reports about Jimmy Savile's abusive nature were not even published until 1998 in the book ...And the Truth Shall Set You Free by David Icke. Despite this, why did it take over 20 years for this story to come to light, after the villain had died without being caught? That's a long story the really needs its own article.

I know what you're going to ask: Have I ever heard about any similar goings on at my hospital? No. If I had I'd have spoken out about it immediately. Hospitals are highly secretive places and all staff are bound by an official code of confidentiality which means we simply do not discuss what goes on within the walls of a hospital with people who are not directly involved. Therefore it is perfectly possible for all kinds of hair-raising and stomach-turning activities to go on in a hospital without anybody outside it ever finding out. To be honest there are things I experienced in my twenty-three year service that I'm not willing to discuss, mostly for my own peace of mind, but which would shock you if I did; but none of them are relevant to stopping the New World Order. For something as serious as this report about Savile I'd break the confidentiality rules without a qualm and have it up on HPANWO the very same day.

This is not the first time stories have broken out about strange goings on in hospitals. In fact I include one of them in my new novel The Obscurati Chronicles, see: http://hpanwo-bb.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/obscurati-chronicles-part-10.html. A few years ago the Australian researcher Stephanie Relfe published The Mars Records which, among many other things, suggested that there were secret bases under most major hospitals, see: http://exopolitics.blogs.com/exopolitics/2011/06/the-mars-records-by-stephanie-relfe-bsc-vols-i-and-ii-micheal-relfes-memoirs-of-20-years-at-the-us-s.html. I did check to see if there was any trace of anything like that at the John Radcliffe but couldn't find any. If any of my serving Brother and Sister Porters have heard anything along these lines since my discharge then could they please let me know; in the strictness of confidence.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

One Year On


It is one year ago to the day that I was discharged from the Hospital Portering Service.

I wondered back then what would become of me. Would I survive? Would I lose my home and end up living on the streets? Would I be able to carry on with HPANWO? The answers are no, no and yes respectively. I have a new job, I am still living at the same place as I was and can afford all I need to eat. I can also afford regularly to visit my lovely Ustane in Nottingham. It's true that I have a much smaller income than I did as a Hospital Porter; I couldn't do my usual tour of the conference circuit this year, but I still went to the two Exopolitics conferences, see: http://hpanwo-tv.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/disclosure-city-people.html . Also this wonderful caring universe provided several conferences that were cheap and easy to get to, like BUFORA: http://hpanwo.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/bufora-conference-2012.html . Last years BUFORA event was in Northumberland; if it had been there again there would have been no way I could have got to it. Since then I have started HPANWO Radio, which would have been very difficult if I were still a Porter because of doing shift work. I have made many new friends and have done my first live conference lectures. I've been in a very similar situation to Tony Farrell and Kevin Annett, but compare my experience to theirs. Both those men lost their homes, Kevin lost his family... I have no right to complain! I've come through this experience very easily. What will the second year of my post-Portering life bring? Who knows!

It's true that I miss the hospital; I miss the camaraderie of Portering. Whatever happens in the future, my life as a Hospital Porter will always be one of the foundation stones of my experience of this world. But I don't miss Portering or the hospital as much as I feared I would. Just a few short months after my dismissal the hospital's social club closed, which is extremely significant and symbolic of the malaise that currently affects the NHS; see: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/last-night-of-jr-social-club.html . The word I hear from my Brother and Sister Porters and the civilian staff I've kept in touch with is that this malaise is getting worse. The end result will be the destruction of the NHS entirely, which was always the Government's plan from day one; day one in this case being in the late 1970's. It's taken almost 40 years to demolish one of the country's best-loved institutions, but with gradualism, problem-reaction-solution, along with apathy and demoralization on our parts, anything can be pruned. No, I've got few regrets. Despite the difficulties I face, I'm better off out of it.