Friday, 11 December 2015

NHS Nurses destroy Patient's Doll

The National Health Service, in its death throes, seems to be recruiting more and more people who can only be described as sick fucks. I've had the misfortune to encounter a couple of these characters during my own hospital service, and I always knew they were capable of far more than they appeared to be on the surface, see background links below. The heartbreaking and enraging story of Susan Hearsey, a sixty-four year old with learning difficulties, comes as no surprise to me at all. Along with being deprived of proper medical care and being forced to endure unsanitary levels of hygiene, Mrs Hearsey was subjected to a cruel and unusual punishment by a nurse that was tailor-made to specifically target her vulnerabilities. Because of her mental condition, Mrs Hearsey owns a child's doll that she believes is her real baby. She is similar in that regard to Debra Schiman, the former owner and carer of "Bearsac", see: Knowing this, the people at Walsall Manor Hospital, who were supposed to be caring for Mrs Hearsey, mutilated the doll in front of her. The doll, which Mrs Hearsey calls Rachel, was later found on the floor with its arms and legs severed, its clothes pulled off and its hair ripped out. According to her sister Jane Dunn, pictured above holding the damaged doll, Mrs Hearsey has never recovered from her ordeal. The hospital initially denied the incident and only offered to buy Mrs Hearsey a new doll, but the family went to the High Court and after an investigation the NHS trust have formally apologized and paid the family £65,000 in compensation. However the staff members who mentally tortured Mrs Hearsey are still serving at the hospital. This is inexplicable and inexcusable. The NHS have no hesitation in discharging a porter for making a video, see:, yet are not concerned by the presence in their ranks of spiteful abusers like those who carried out this sadistic assault on one of their defenceless patients. The family have not let the matter lie and are initiating further action against the NHS trust; I wish them luck and my heart goes out to Susan Hearsey. Source: I don't blame another elderly patient for taking a gun with her into that hospital, see: What's more the corruption in the NHS has been further exposed when they were caught out covering up multiple unexplained deaths of in-patients, see: According to the psychologist and clinical ponerologist Prof. Kevin Dutton, psychopaths gravitate towards certain career paths and he has compiled a list of the top ten. Number one, no surprise, is finance. However I was surprised to see that number five is medicine. Doctors, especially surgeons, have among them a far high proportion of psychopaths than the average of 6%; or higher, depending on the source, see: I don't know what the figures are for nursing, but it wouldn't surprise me if they were also above average, even if nursing doesn't make Dutton's sociopathic hit parade. The people who humiliated and degraded this vulnerable old lady certainly exhibit the right tendencies. Shame on the NHS! I wouldn't go back to them now if they begged me. I spit in the face of whoever dares make me the offer.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

An Open Letter to Richard Dawkins

Dear Prof. Dawkins.

I know you're used to people writing to you mostly because of religious matters and indeed I have studied your works on religion and atheism in detail, but never felt inclined to discuss them with you directly. Contrary to what you're used to, this letter is not about religion at all, and is all about your recent TV series Sex, Death and the Meaning of Life (Incidentally it's not a good idea to give your programme a title that makes it sound like a Woody Allen comedy). In one episode you bring up the ancient Greek myth of Sisyphus, the king who was punished by the gods by having to continuously role a boulder uphill for eternity. You then go and find what you believe is a real life Sisyphus, one Hori Lal, a man whose job it is to sweep the streets of Varanasi, India. Do you really think that this is an appropriate comparison? Appropriate or not it is certainly deeply disrespectful. There is an enormous difference between Mr Lal's duty and the punishment of Sisyphus. Nobody would suffer if Sisyphus found some way of dropping his rock and escaping the Olympians' divine wrath. However, if Mr Lal downed his broom Varanasi would very quickly become buried under a mountain of its own refuse. Mr Lal carries out an essential public service and, you are correct to say, it's a shame India has a caste system that looks down on his duty. It is very insulting to compare such a man to a mythological figure who is burdened with an eternal useless chore as retribution for perceived wrongs.

Like myself, you live in Oxford and therefore you or a member of your family will almost certainly have at some point needed the medical assistance of the John Radcliffe Hospital. I was a porter there for over twenty-three years. This was a position in the hospital's own unofficial caste system similar to Hori Lal's in Varanasi. Hospital porters are the dalits of the NHS. However I performed my service with great pride. I considered myself an essential member of a life saving team doing one of the most important jobs in the entire world. In fact I once calculated that if you took away the porters, the JRH would grind to a halt within quarter of an hour. It's perfectly possible that one day I helped to make you better; so that you were in good enough health to travel the world to exotic locations making TV programmes that patronize people like me and Mr Lal. Think about that.

Yours sincerely.

Ben Emlyn-Jones
(former porter at the John Radcliffe Hospital)

This letter is based on an article I wrote a while ago, see:

Monday, 14 September 2015

Richard Dawkins- Patronizing Git!

Sex, Death and the Meaning of Life sounds like the title of a Woody Allen comedy, but it's actually a new documentary with Richard Dawkins; see the background links below where I've written about Dawkins before. Its style leads me to believe it is from the same production team that brought us his previous clangers, The Root of All Evil and Enemies of Reason. In the third part of Sex, Death and the Meaning of Life, Dawkins discusses the Greek myth of Sisyphus. Sisyphus was a king who displeased the gods. With typical Olympian sadism, the gods punished him by making him role a huge boulder up a hill; and once he'd accomplished that, the boulder would roll to the bottom, forcing him to repeat the tribulation, and this cycle would recur over and over again for eternity. This story made the French philosopher Albert Camus think about how it related to the meaning of life. In 1942 he wrote a book all about Sisyphus. The universe, Camus said, was "absurd"; there was no rhyme or reason at all. Some people committed suicide because they found no meaning in their lives. Camus found hope in the myth of Sisyphus, in fact for him Sisyphus was a hero and prophet who represented the rebellion against the futility of existence because his arduous task had its own meaning from the very effort he put into it. Camus said: "The struggle itself is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy." Dawkins states that he does not agree with Camus, and neither do I. For Dawkins and me, Sisyphus' torment is pointless, as his divine persecutors intended it to be. The problem is that Dawkins then goes on to find what he thinks is a real life Sisyphus. His name is Hori Lal and his job is to sweep the streets and clean the public toilets in Varanasi, India. He has done this job for over twenty years and will probably do it for the next twenty, see here from about 27:00: India has a "caste" system, a very rigid order of social segregation. Hori Lal is a Dalit, the very lowest caste. In the programme Dawkins riles against this system and cheers on Mahendra Kumar, another Dalit who escaped his conventional bonds to become an IT expert. I agree, it's admirable that Mr Kumar had a personal dream and achieved it, but this does not make him objectively any more valuable a person than Hori Lal in my view. I understand completely the issues involved here because as a former hospital porter, I played a role in my society very similar to the one Mr Lal plays in his. It never occurs to Dawkins that there is an enormous difference between Mr Lal's duty and the punishment of Sisyphus. Nobody would suffer if Sisyphus found some way of dropping his rock and escaping. However, if Mr Lal downed his broom Varanasi would very quickly become buried under a mountain of its own refuse. It is extremely ignorant and patronizing of Richard Dawkins to equate a job to the ordeal of Sisyphus just because it lacks conventional status. Like myself, Richard Dawkins lives in Oxford and might have had to use the services of the John Radcliffe Hospital. In that case, I helped to make him better, better so he could go off gallivanting around the place making condescending TV documentaries that pour scorn on the essential servants of the human world. Dawkins is not the only one who fails to grasp what I see as a very obvious concept. There were people I served alongside in the hospital who had the same attitude, see here for more details: I wonder if Richard Dawkins is aware that Albert Camus was good friends with another great philosopher called Ludwig Wittgenstein, and that's a name all regular readers will recognize. He was a professor of philosophy at Cambridge... but was also a hospital porter, see: Did Camus get his ideas about the meaning of life from his conversations with Wittgenstein?

Friday, 11 September 2015

Assisted Dying Bill Rejected

MP's in Parliament have vetoed the latest attempt by campaigners to make it legal for doctors to end somebody's life with their permission if they are terminally ill or grossly infirm without any hope of recovery. The vote was decisively against the bill. I know many people at the British Constitution Group and UK Column who have been warning that legalizing euthanasia could be abused by those who want to depopulate the world and rid it of its "useless eaters". Elderly and disabled people might have subtle moral pressure put on them not to be a "burden" which might influence their decision. These sceptics have a valid point, but I don't think it's as black and white as that. The news article below contains video interviews showing both sides of the argument. One is with a man who is dying of a rare form of motor neurone disease; he vehemently opposes the bill for the reasons I state above. Another is of the wife and children of a man who chose to go to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland and commit legal suicide there because he had come down with spinal cancer. He was a keep-fit enthusiast and couldn't bear the thought of spending the last few months of his life in a wheelchair, see: As I explain in the background articles below, Euthanasia, a Greek word that literally means "a good death", is killing somebody for the purposes of relieving their pain and/or misery. It's an everyday practice in veterinary medicine for dealing with badly ill animals; but it is an extremely controversial topic when it comes to humans. The medical profession is divided on it, as are politicians and ethical philosophers of medicine. This is why it's legal in some countries and not in others. There has been a long campaign by various pressure groups and individuals to bring in the right to die in the United Kingdom, including the British Humanist Association, the actor Dirk Bogarde and the author Terry Pratchett. They've been opposed by the church and other religious groups, but also some geriatric and palliative care organizations. Despite the church being against euthanasia, the former Archbishop of Canterbury... and son of a hospital porter, Sir George Carey, has publicly backed the bill, see background links below. I'm in favour of the right to die under certain circumstances. The tide is definitely turning I feel. I know that mercy killings go on anyway; I have served alongside doctors who have dispatched hospital patients secretly, with the individual's and/or relatives' permission of course, when they know they will be able to get away with it. If these doctors were caught, they might face a charge of murder. It could actually take a test case like that to make any further progress in the law. Another concern for people opposed to the right to die is that prognoses can change; in certain circumstances this could be a medical breakthrough, as in the Darek Fidyka case, see background links below. I share those concerns, but still think it doesn't justify forcing somebody against their will to carry on living in what they experience as humiliation and agony because somebody might find a cure for their illness at some point in the future. This was the first time Parliament has voted on the right to die for almost twenty years. The wheels of legislation turn slowly and the pro-euthanasia protesters will have to go home disappointed, and stay that way for some time; but another opportunity will arrive, one day soon.

Monday, 31 August 2015

JR Porters' Strike Update 2

The porters' strike at the John Radcliffe Hospital is winding down into what is being euphemistically called a "negotiated and lasting settlement ". No industrial action at all was ever taken in the seven weeks since we voted unanimously to go ahead with it. Instead there has been an endless series of negotiations, as I explain in the more recent background article. This has resulted in management proposing a new agreement, see illustration below. In this model, rotary shifts will be maintained, but at a greatly reduced level of twenty-two porters from the pre-dispute deployment of forty. ROE stands for "retention of employment", so these are NHS staff seconded to the contractor Carillion, not direct Carillion company personnel; and a "Dispatcher" is a porter who does the job of a full senior, but for a basic grade wage. The "improved career path from Porter to Operations Manager" is code for: "If you're good enough at kissing our arse we'll promote you a bit quicker". I'm not sure about the "greater choice of shift patterns" bit. They may be planning to introduce a corps of 11-to-7 or 12-to-8 porters. These are hours nobody would choose, but they make effective dumping grounds for idiots, or as punishment duty. "Addressing" pay protection means what? They can easily respond after a two-minute consultation of twiddling their thumbs: "OK, we've addressed it, now get back to work!" No staff-member should even think of accepting this resolution without a written guarantee that their pre-dispute pay level will be permanently maintained. The paragraph beneath the bullet points sounds very sinister. It might result in a musical chairs-style scramble for all the tastiest drafts; and resentment and infighting when some of the crew don't get the hours that they want. "Work-life balance" is one of those Orwellian phrases we hear all the time nowadays in the hospital.
I must pay tribute to my contact on the inside. He has risked his career even more than all the others to bring me this information. The document above is a confidential internal communication that if you're a reader outside UNISON or the JR Portering department you should not have access to. He is the hospital portering equivalent of Edward Snowden. Naturally I have blanked out the identities of the signatories, but they are most of the people in command on both sides of this dispute. According to my contact, that portering fighting spirit has been extinguished; this proposal was passed 58% to 42%. He himself voted against it, as I hope I would have done. I don't wish to judge my serving peers in the hospital portering community, but I predicted in the previous article that this would happen. I said at the time that after the ballot the crew needed the catharsis of immediate action. I knew that this anticlimax of dithering and waffling would lead to frustration and demoralization. These are healthcare professionals and they are risking everything for this strike! They're going to feel very insecure and frightened. They might be tempted to accept a damaging compromise from Carillion that they would otherwise never consider. This is not a defeat for Carillion. In fact it's possible they put out the initial proposal knowing full well that they'd never be able to achieve everything within it. They just gave it a try to see how much they could get away with. They've settled at a satisfactory fall-back position and have made adequate progress. Give them six months to a year and they'll suggest more "streamlining and labour intensive" changes. There has been a split among the personnel, as I also thought might happen. Some of the porters have washed their hands of UNISON and are trying to bring in another union, the GMB, an organization that appears to have a good track record for taking a hard line against Carillion in the construction field, see: I don't blame those porters. UNISON are very good at hosting women's groups, black members facilitator meetings, organizing LGBT conferences and generally persuading white straight males of how EEEEEEEvil we all are, but the moment a good old fashioned punch-up breaks out, they suddenly shrink like violets. Unfortunately Carillion has refused to recognize the GMB in this state of affairs, even though many of their other employees are GMB-members, albeit in a different sector to healthcare. There is now going to be at least another month of sordid and grubby intercession in order to administer this new deal, but that is just a formality. The JR porters' strike is over. I just hope that the porters hang together and don't take out their resentment on each other. If there's to be any hope of salvaging something good from this situation then you, my brother and sister porters, must keep positive, keep your heads and stick together.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

JR Porters' Strike Update

It is now a month since the porters of the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford elected to go on strike due to unacceptable changes in pay and shift patterns, see here for essential background: So far no action has taken place. There have been strike dates announced but the actions have been called off. This has happened three times now; the latest being one that was due to start at 10 PM last night for forty-eight hours. My "insider" (qv) says there have been some worrying developments. According to him the strike action has been blocked by the regional office of UNISON. They say that this is not a "trade dispute", whatever the hell that means. I dropped out of trade unionism for ideological reasons, but still take an interest in it, at least as it relates to the National Health Service, and believe it can do some good. I don't see how UNISON can command strikers to stand down when their own members voted for strike action in a ballot UNISON organized itself; not only voted for it, but did so completely unanimously within a membership pool of almost a hundred. The JRH porters are risking everything over this action and their decision should be respected and taken very seriously. Bear in mind that this is information that I've only heard from a single source, but this kind of thing could be interpreted as a betrayal. People leave trade unions over matters like this, in fact shortly after I started in portering there was a split within the department itself. The main trade union of the NHS ancillary staff in those days was NUPE, the National Union of Public Employees, but the theatre porters defected to COHSE, the Confederation Of Health Service Employees. In 1993 both of those unions merged, along with the admin union NALGO, the National Association of Local Government Officers, to form UNISON. What porters have joined together porters can put asunder. If UNISON really do pull the rug out from under this strike will some of the porters move over to another union? Or will they form their own organization dedicated to this specific dispute? At the moment there is another in an ongoing series of "consultations" with management. There's also talk of referring the case to arbitration. I can guess exactly how the porters are feeling. This delay and indecision can be frightening and demoralizing. It might tempt them to accept a damaging compromise from Carillion that they would otherwise never consider. I hope not. We'll see; I'll post further updates as and when they occur. 

Monday, 27 July 2015

Paper Mask- full movie Online

Somebody has done the world an enormous disservice of uploading the entire film of Paper Mask to YouTube, exactly as I feared somebody would. It's obviously in the public domain now. I was hoping it had vanished forever, but it's popped up again like a bad smell,
The film tells the story of a hospital porter who steals the identity of a dead doctor and impersonates him. I'm only posting a link because some people are curious to watch it. If you choose to click it, don't blame me afterwards!

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Alyson Dunlop on Hospital Ghosts

Supernatural Magazine has recently published a very interesting article which confirms some of my own observations. Alyson Dunlop, a Scottish paranormal researcher and radio show host relates her experiences of being in the Western Infirmary in Glasgow for major surgery last year. She saw an apparition of a teenage boy and a cloud of "smoky mist". She also encountered a departed family friend. During a second admission she was kept next door to a room with an old woman in it who was being treated as terminal. She witnessed a frightening dark entity in the vicinity of the room, as if this was a Grim Reaper type character who knew the old woman's time was almost up and was waiting to take her away. Alyson prayed to the angels and she reports that they chased the dark entity away. The old lady made a miraculous recovery. I myself have seen miracles in my hospital quite a few times. One that sticks in my mind is a case from the delivery suite in which a mother was expecting twins but was told one of them had died; this was confirmed by Doppler ultrasound scan. However both babies were born alive and well. Alyson asked the nurses and they told her that there had been a similar incident that they'd witnessed in the course of their duties. She wonders if a dark entity is haunting that ward, and that maybe the operating theatres are haunted too, see: I've found that supernatural occurrences in hospitals are extremely common, perhaps because of the amount of pain, fear and death you find within their walls, see background links below for more details. Hospital staff are sometimes quite willing to discuss it privately if they know they're in the presence of somebody who will take them seriously. Other than that it is something of an "open secret". Near-death experiences and contact with deceased patients by staff is another frequent occurrence, see Dr Mitchell Gibson; however for reasons I go into in the background links, such phenomena are very hard to scientifically prove. However, as the saying goes, absence of evidence does not equal evidence of absence.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

100% of Porters vote to Strike

See here for essential background:
The ballot is over and every single one of the porters who voted has favoured strike action, see: My "insider" (q.v.) has told me that the atmosphere is very tense at the hospital right now. Two UNISON stewards and a convener have been suspended because they're accused of "bullying" management. A likely story! At the same time one of the new "operational managers" has made himself very unpopular by continuously checking the porters' portable dispatch devices to check that they haven't been deleting tasks from them. He also keeps butting into conversations demanding to know what the porters are talking about. Of course the ultimate victim in this chain of decrepitude will be the patient. Hospital management seem to be doing everything they can to prevent the hospital functioning. There was a meeting today, but apparently not much was achieved. We still don't know when the first day's strike will be. I do hope it will be a day I'll be available so I can join the picket line myself.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Dennis Thwaites RIP

It has come to my attention that one of the Britons killed in the attack in Sousse, Tunisia on Friday was a former hospital porter. Dennis Thwaites, who also had a career as a footballer with Birmingham City FC, died alongside his wife Elaine. They came from Blackpool and were having a lovely holiday when the incident happened. They were initially reported as injured, but this was later found to be inaccurate, see: I know there's a lot of speculation right now about exactly what took place. Who really committed this crime and why? But whatever the answer, Mr and Mrs Thwaites were still innocent people who were murdered. Rest in peace, Brother Porter. Dennis Thwaites, on eternal duty. 

Friday, 26 June 2015

"Hospital Worker" sees Ghost

Hospitals are often very haunted places; probably due to the amount of fear, suffering and death within their walls. Psychically-sensitive people like Dr Mitchell Gibson has had regular encounters with spirits of the deceased, see: It's been reported that a member of staff at the Leeds General Infirmary has recorded evidence of a ghost. Andrew Milburn was texting his girlfriend just before going on duty for his nightshift last Friday. He took a picture of what he saw as an empty corridor near the children's ward and when the picture came out it showed an ethereal human figure on it. The spectre is translucent and semi-formed and appears to show a girl or small woman walking swiftly towards the left hand wall of the passage. She is wearing a long dress that looks old-fashioned in style; it could even be an 1800's nurses' uniform. The LGI dates back to the 19th century, although a lot of rebuilding has been done on the main site during the hospital's history. I suspect this is a fake. There are even mobile apps available that allow you to instantly create false ghost photos. Why would Mr Milburn be taking a photo at all there? It's strictly against regulations; in fact all personal devices have to be switched off while you're on duty and/or on site. He claims he saw nothing unusual at the time; then why did he take the shot in the first place? That being said however, his colleagues at the LGI have related experiences that are possibly paranormal, as most staff at most hospitals do; I wouldn't like to entirely discount the notion that a ghost is currently patrolling the corridors there. I just doubt that this image counts as evidence. What bugs me most about this news story is that it keeps referring to Milburn as a "hospital worker"; what the hell does that mean? If he were a doctor or nurse would he be so described? I have an awful feeling that he is actually a porter and is ashamed to admit it. This I find very frustrating and sad, see here for details:

Monday, 1 June 2015

Happy St Theo's Day 2015

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.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Killer Nurses

It's just been announced that an NHS nurse has been found guilty for murdering some of his patients. Victorino Chua was jailed for life after being convicted of killing two patients at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, Greater Manchester. The police have found out that it's possible that Mr Chua didn't even have an approved nursing qualification anyway. He wrote a chilling confession letter that shows that he killed people simply as a way of letting off steam; "There's a devil in me!" he says, see: Of course there have always been nurses, and other health care professionals, who kill in the course of their duties, but it seems that this is becoming more and more common. In fact it's barely twenty years ago that a notorious nursing serial killer was caught; Beverly Allitt, the so-called "Angel of Death", had murdered four children on the acute paediatric ward in Lincolnshire where she served as a state-enrolled nurse. She had also attempted to murder three others and had seriously injured six more; some were left with permanent disabilities as a consequence, see: The Oxford Radcliffe Trust, the management of my old hospital, seems to have been particularly badly hit. In 2006 a staff nurse Benjamin Green was convicted of murdering two patients and injuring fifteen others at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury, part of OxRad, see: At my own unit, the John Radcliffe Hospital we have yet to have our first murder, but we have had a spate of horrific non-lethal violent crimes committed by nurses. Most recently Andrew Hutchinson, a man I knew, was found to be a serial rapist who targeted unconscious women in the Emergency Department, see: Amazingly I remember how Hutchinson once reprimanded me for using a bedpan base as a container for cleaning detergent; his cheek is unbelievable! Another man I knew in the very same department was Oliver Balicao; he was sacked after having sex with a sixteen year old girl in the hospital toilets. He was cleared of rape, but following an investigation he went on to be convicted of raping two other girls at the JRH, see: Can that be coincidence? How many offenders like these, and worse, are walking round on the loose, yet to be caught. Will we get our first murder at some point? Being a conspiracy theorist I have to ask if there's some kind of mind control operation going on. It makes me laugh... because if it didn't I would cry... when I hear the Daily Mail ask about why nothing was done to investigate Andrew Hutchinson because for three years they had suspected him of "inappropriate behaviour." Perhaps they were too busy sacking porters for making comedy videos with their friends, see: When I was a theatre porter some of the staff also suggested that I should not be working there because of my "erratic behaviour", like watching Teletubbies on TV and saying that I was proud to be a porter. In the end I was forcibly transferred out of the department; more on that another day. It is interesting that all the most serious crimes committed in NHS hospitals are being committed by civilians. If it is not nurses then it is doctors like the serial killer Dr Harold Shipman. Also security guards at the JRH were always being arrested for violent actions, fraud or theft etc. I know of no misdemeanour as grievous as the ones I've reported on ever being carried out by an NHS porter. However, when some adverse incident did happen at the hospital the fingers always pointed at the porters first before any investigation had even begun. Just goes to show, doesn't it? Another overall effect of Victorino Chua's murder spree is the increase in Big Brother surveillance in NHS hospitals and that nurses have to police each other when handling certain drugs or carrying out certain procedures, see the article about Chua linked above and also:

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

St Theo's Day 2015 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.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

JR Porters ballot for Strike

I could write a long and very depressing book about the various and numerous ways the portering service at the John Radcliffe Hospital has gone downhill since I started out there as a porter in the late 1980's; the background articles below will give you an overview. The malaise experienced by the porters is mirrored in the civilian services too; nursing, medicine, paramedics etc. Just a few days ago a situation emerged which is the inevitable result of this degeneration and anybody in the know who did not predict this disaster is a fool, see: Since my own very suspicious dismissal from the Hospital Portering Service, see:, things have got even worse. I am in regular contact with a JR porter who supplies me with news and information from the inside that I wouldn't otherwise be able to know... never mind who... therefore it was no surprise to me when this was published by the local branch of our trade union UNISON, see: In fact this is exactly what I myself experienced; however the situation has considerably deteriorated since January 2012. (In fact, seeing as now I have a civilian job, food on the table, a roof over my head and all the other essentials of life... how much do I really regret being sacked from the hospital?) Despite UNISON's admirable attempt to improve things with their "Respect" campaign, my contact tells me the abuse of staff as described in the above article still goes on. Just a month ago he informed me that everyone was bracing themselves for some huge bombshell and last week it detonated. I need to explain some background: the JR porters' employment circumstances are very complicated. A company called Carillion plc runs the Facilities departments via a PFI- private finance initiative deal. However the contracted staff are National Health Service employees who are "seconded" to Carillion. A large proportion of the Facilities crew, over a quarter, are not actually employees though, neither of the NHS Trust nor the outsourcer; they are just agency placements who have no contractual rights to the job they do. Despite the constant reassurances that they are just going through a "trial period" and that they'll be offered a proper job if they make a good impression, some agency staff have been at the hospital for over two years in that limbo state; working there, but not really a part of the team.

Now Carillion want to introduce further changes to a service already depleted, demoralized and weakened by upheaval. Firstly they want to axe six senior porter posts, that's the principle supervisory grade; these they aim to replace with two directly-employed Carillion "customer service managers". Secondly they want to end the rotary shift system in which porters take it in turns to provide the different sessions of the twenty-four-seven patient service at the hospital. This would be replaced by a fixed roster of permanent regular shifts; so one porter would work permanent earlies, another permanent lates and another permanent nights, with separate weekend staff etc. This would seriously reduce pay levels; seeing as weekends, nights and unsocial hours are paid at an enhanced rate or with a bonus. It would also reduce a lot of the enjoyment of the work through losing the interest, excitement, professionalism and variety of rotary shiftwork. My contact suspects that Carillion will not offer any nightshifts to the existing staff at all and will instead employ their own night porters directly, therefore not paying them the NHS directed enhanced rates of pay. UNISON have asked Carillion to withdraw their proposal and Carillion have refused. There have been further meetings and UNISON have emphasized how the Carillion proposal will be a detriment to patient care, which it certainly will. Carillion are still digging their heels in, but they have postponed the introduction of the new system. The mood of the porters is rebellious and there will be a strike ballot unless Carillion scraps it completely. Obviously I'm not a porter any more, nor am I a UNISON member; I have no say at all in what happens, but you can guess how I would vote in the ballot if I could. Industrial action in a hospital is a very serious matter. If the trains go on strike a commuter might end up late at the office, but if the healthcare professions go on strike people might die. However how many people have died due to government policy towards the NHS? Scroll down and see the background links for an answer. The government have been allowed to get away with their nefarious plots partly due to NHS workers' reluctance to take industrial action; because we all know the consequences for our patients if we do. This is the dilemma we face, and the government have not hesitated to exploit it. However, I would say that we're now in a situation in which it far more harmful to the patients, on a long-term basis, not to strike than it is to strike. So I say to my Extremely Proud and Dignified Brother and Sister Porters, do it! Down tools! I'll be on the picket line with you, even though I'm not longer one of you.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

A&E Crisis 2015

The Accident and Emergency departments in hospitals across the whole country have descended into a cataclysm of endemic failure to "meet their targets". The system that has been in place for several decades now is that the performance of National Health Service organizations has been judged mathematically. A complicated network of statistics has been introduced and this has caused all kinds of problems, as Adam Curtis explains in his brilliant documentary, The Trap, see: Therefore the A and E departments of NHS hospitals are set quantitative limits on how they treat their patients. For example, every patient has to be seen by a doctor or nurse within four hours of their admission to the department. If the department fails to achieve this then it is listed as a black mark on the management's records. In the terminology of the hospital this is known as "breaching". I recall several times at weekends when the very stressed-out sister would complain that a senior hospital manager had phoned up asking: "How are things today? I hope we haven't had any breaches so far..." I can sympathize with that manager though because he was frightened that if the department suffered too many breaches then he would get into trouble and may even be relieved of his position. It's been revealed in the news that during last winter the entire system collapsed. 7.4% of patients breached, this is way below the redline limit of 5%. In Northern Ireland it was particularly bad; the breach level was almost 20%. This news page allows you to check the proficiency of your own local trust: My old hospital, the John Radcliffe in Oxford, is at 87.1%, this puts it in the lower half of the league table and certainly way outside the small Premiership of trusts who succeeded in achieving their targets, less than a quarter overall.

The Department of Health will deal with this crisis and all the negative publicity surrounding it in the usual way; they'll kick out the people they hold accountable, the senior managerial grades, and replace them with eager young newcomers. Then they can tell the general public that they've taken action to solve the problem... Only they haven't. Do they really think the staff at hospitals fall short in this way because they're incompetent or lazy? The truth is that successive governments, no matter what ruling party is elected, have squeezed the NHS to death between a huge increase in workload together with a reduction in staffing levels. I saw this myself. Many times on busy afternoons, ambulances were queued up in the entrance bay and I had to relay gas cylinders to them so that they wouldn't run out. I would regularly be tackled by nurses urgently saying: "Ben, could you move this patient right now please, he's about to breach!" Some hospitals called major incidents to try and avert the crisis; but of course this cannot be done on a routine basis. The thing is, the rules forbid hospitals calling in extra staff at any other time, which is insane. The nurses and doctors... not to leave out the porters as well naturally... are doing everything humanly possible, but they're serving in a system that is being deliberately degraded so that it is ripe for full spectrum privatization. This destruction is virtually complete, see: Unfortunately it is now too late to "save the NHS!" To bring back effective free public health care in Britain we will need to introduce a completely new system from brand new foundations. Of course this will not be possible until the vultures who destroyed the previous service are exposed and brought to justice. I'm well aware that the question over public healthcare is moot without taking into account more fundamental issues that conventional NHS campaigners will not address, such as Big Pharma and cancer cures etc, see:, however this doesn't mean that the future of the conventional medical system or its privatized replacement is a non-issue.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Big Porter is watching You

Something has happened at my hospital that I predicted long ago when I was there. I have found out from a contact currently serving in the John Radcliffe porters... never mind who... that CCTV has been installed in the portering departmental facilities. Two have been placed in the department's office in order to protect sensitive paperwork, like disciplinary records and sickness forms etc, from being accessed by unauthorized persons... obviously the safes and locked filing cabinets the portering office used to use are obsolete technology and in this day and age we need to leave all documents lying around in the open. The porters at my hospital no longer have a lodge in the traditional sense; areas designated for portering use are just alcoves with a few chairs or a corner with portable partitions if we're lucky. However when I was there and we did have a lodge, I said that one day we'd be monitored by management via CCTV while in it. CCTV was originally introduced into the hospital for security purposes, as were electronic door locks. However, and I predicted this as well, those door locks are today used by management to monitor the location of the security guards exactly like in a local hotel I've referred to, see: And so we now see CCTV being adapted from the purpose it is supposed to be for into something else entirely. This is why, when it comes to Big Brother, we have to deal with capabilities, not professed intents. I said this over the school fingerprinting issue, see: It could be that we porters will once again be given a proper lodge, a room with a rest area, kitchen, lockers etc; but when we are you can bet it will have that little brown dome fitted to the ceiling. 

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Wittgenstein on "that Dress"

Two weeks ago a young bride from the Western Isles of Scotland put a photograph of her wedding dress on social media and it caused a viral sensation. The photo was not very good quality and together with the dress' intricate lace embroidery it created an inadvertent optical illusion. Some people saw it as a white dress with gold lace, others as a blue dress with black lace. The lady who wore it at her wedding was inundated with messages asking her exactly what colour the dress really was. However, as always, it takes the common sense of a hospital porter to solve this mystery, or it would if he were still alive. Ludwig Wittgenstein was professor of philosophy at Cambridge University and an expert on language, logic, comprehension and perception; he was also a pharmacy porter at Guys Hospital in London. What would that great hospital porter... an occasional amateur part-time philosopher... have made of "that Dress"? He might have thought that it was just the "aspect switching" of perception. He used the famous drawing of the "rabbit-duck" by Joseph Jastrow as an analogy, see:
Do you see a rabbit or a duck?

This drawing has this perception ambiguity deliberately built in. What you see will depend on your comprehension of the image and you can even choose between the two simply by thinking about it. There are many other examples of this, like the spinning ballerina animation. However, with the dress it's different. People report that they cannot choose what colour they see the dress by changing their minds, so it's not an aspect that they can voluntarily switch. It's more likely that the dress photo has happened to have just the right features that it causes different displays in the brains of different people. In this way it's revealed a kind of colour-blindness that is not pathological and is naturally universal to all humans. We know that animals like dogs and cats see colours differently to ourselves all the time; it seems within a species there is also some variation. One thing's for sure, there is a lot of variation in the success of fashion design and that the company that created this now famous dress, Roman Originals, is going to enjoy a huge boost in sales, rather like the lucky lady who produced the "sexist comet shirt", see: Nevertheless the insights of Ludwig Wittgenstein are a good starting point for considering this conundrum... if fact the insights of any hospital porter are good for considering any conundrum!

Friday, 27 February 2015

Jimmy Savile- the NHS knew

The inquiry into the crimes of the celebrity and former hospital porter Jimmy Savile continues, and it's been revealed that his offences in various hospitals where he served were considerable. Sixty-three people have come forward to accuse him at Stoke Mandeville Hospital alone, one of the fourteen in which he served. He sexually assaulted patients, staff and visitors; over half were under sixteen including a young girl he raped in her bed on a ward, and a fourteen year old boy he groped in the X-ray department. The youngest was just five years old at the time. He particularly targeted the world famous spinal injuries unit at Stoke Mandeville because so many of the patients were immobilized. He also sexually harassed nurses, but despite this he was given accommodation in the nurses' home. Complaints were filed against Savile as long ago as 1968 yet absolutely nothing was done about it and he continued to serve as a porter until 1992, see: The most shocking revelation was the testimony of "Jane", a victim of his at the Leeds General Infirmary. It's clear from her report that Savile had a number of collaborators among the staff. In fact other porters used to deliver children to a room in the basement where he carried out his attacks. Nurses laughed at her when she told them when what had happened and warned her not to be "silly", see: Several people have described Savile's actions in the NHS an "open secret"; this mirrors the situation at the BBC perfectly, see: The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (I must be careful how I say that!) blames Savile's celebrity allure; and it's true that the cult of fame can run deep in people's hearts. However there must be more to it than that. I know that the NHS is loaded with corruption. I myself witnessed a lot of this during my own service and I'll describe some of this in fuller detail in future posts, but suffice to say for now that the NHS suffered from endemic "groupthink". A climate of inferred collaboration can break out almost anywhere. The chilling results of the Milgram experiment are very revealing. This famous psychological test involved putting people in a situation in which they were fooled into thinking that they were torturing somebody else to death with repeated electric shocks. The experiment revealed that so long as an authority figure ordered them to do so, most subjects were willing to comply, see: Everybody is so shocked about what happened with Savile; they gasp and say: "How could this have happened!?" Well, this is how. This is how institutional collusion takes place and it happens naturally, easily and instinctively without a word being spoken between anybody. Hopefully this will shut up those who bleat on about how there was "no conspiracy!" and that it was just an "extraordinary oversight!" and how Savile was "extremely lucky to get away with what he did!" Most psychologists believe that groupthink is an inevitable and unavoidable part of human nature; perhaps, but I'm not certain. Those in power do seem to go to an awful lot of effort to promote groupthink and its associated mindsets; if it were "just human nature, mate!" why would they need to? See: Not all of the subjects in the Milgram experiment were willing to carry out their supposed deadly duty, sixty-five percent did. That is a majority, but not an overwhelming one. So we can only hope that the thirty-five percent who cannot be ordered to aid and abet atrocities grow in number.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

NHS Sign-Hacking

The overworked, underpaid and traumatized staff of the National Health Service have been venting their anguish in an unusual, amusing and highly creative way; they've been altering hospital signs. The regulation white-on-blue direction signs are one of the icons of British NHS hospitals. They are placarded on walls or hung from the ceilings telling us where endoscopy, outpatients, the chapel or urology wards etc etc are. However, when nobody is looking, presumably during the night, these signs are being altered into satirical slogans and statements of political agitation: Exhausted Nurses, Punchable effigy of Jeremy Hunt (the government's health secretary) and Amputation ward- behind bins. Others are simply witty, like at Whittington Hospital the Emergency Department entrance has a "never should have attempted DIY" area, which is very accurate for anybody who knows ED; as is the "drunks and smelly people" waiting room, see: In my view, this kind of shenanigans is as an effective an act of rebellion as joining UNISON or standing on a picket line. Probably more so in fact, as I myself became very disillusioned with the trade union movement during the years that I was a porter. Our union activists were generally bitter and insecure people who hated managers, at the same time that they envied them. Deep down they longed to be in management themselves; most of them ended up there in fact. Along with them were also many progressive middle class leftists whose only mission was to persuade me of how naturally evil I am because I'm a white heterosexual male. The modern trade union movement is completely out to lunch. The I-Ching, the ancient Chinese book of wisdom, has a chapter entitled Revolution. It states that genuine rebellion that can produce real change in the world must be founded on an inner truth; one must not move forward with excessive haste nor accept compromising injustice. This sign-hacking is a good example of a form of sedition that takes heed of that. It uses dignified humour to assert and empower. If I were still in the service I'd do some of it myself... in fact I could sneak in tonight!