Friday, 23 December 2016

Hospital Porters in the Media

I’ve been following the way the media portrays members of our ancient and noble profession and I have to confess to being enormously dismayed. Almost universally we are portrayed in one of two forms: nameless cameo roles who come and go in the background while the Richard Chamberlain’s and Kenneth Williams’ of this world bask in the limelight; or as inferior-feeling, insecure individuals who are frustrated with their lowly position on life.
 The media history of hospital porters began in 1964 with the American slapstick comedy film The Disorderly Orderly. It stars Jerry Lewis as a porter at a chronic care sanatorium, roving from one funny and embarrassing situation to the next. The film is very shallow and weak, a pale imitator of the British Carry On films but with none of the Carry On's style and wit. What’s more the Lewis’ character is only serving as an orderly because he couldn’t get into medical school. This is a recurring theme in media portrayals of hospital porters and I’ll come back to that.
The one departure from the two main stereotypes that I’ve come across is in the 1980 David Lynch film The Elephant Man. This is an adaptation of the true-life story of Joseph Merrick, a grossly disfigured man who lived in Victorian London. The original 1942 book written about him by Ashley Montagu is subtitled: A Study in Human Dignity, which is ironic considering how the film dealt with the subject of hospital porters. The film considerably deviates from historical facts to add energy to the plot. One of those deviations has Merrick kidnapped from the hospital where he is being treated by an unscrupulous freak-show owner; and the cruel man who helps to organize the abduction is one of the hospital’s porters, played by Michael Elphick. So the score so far for hospital porter portrayals is: Conformist Stereotype 1- Evil Greedy Bastard 1! Will things get any better?

They don’t. In fact they get far, far worse! The next stop on our journey is the popular and long-running BBC drama Casualty and its spin off show Holby City. The series is set in a contemporary British NHS hospital and nearly all the characters are doctors or nurses, or PAM’s like receptionists, managers and social workers. Only one major character has been a porter and this was Jimmy Powell who was in the series between 1989 and 1991, played by Robson Green. Unfortunately Jimmy’s main purpose in the story, from what I could see, was to walk round with his head bowed and his shoulders slumped in shame whining "I wish I was a nurse, I wish I was a nurse! I wish I wasn’t only a porter!"

This deeply insulting and patronizing characterization of hospital porters stoops to its nadir in the 1990 film Paper Mask. It’s a little-known film, and obscurity has never been so richly deserved! It stars Paul McGann as a hospital porter very much like Jimmy, with a devastating inferiority complex and deep regrets that he hasn’t gone "up the ladder" to do something "better" with his life. Seeing as he hasn’t got the bus-fare upstairs to study and become the doctor he dreams of being, he steals the identity of a doctor at his hospital who gets killed in a car crash. At the time of writing it is available free online: I’m sad to say that there is only one, single fictional source I know of where hospital porters are portrayed in a positive light… and that’s my own novel Evan’s Land. See:

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Nurse sacked for Praying

I have a few words of advice for anybody seeking a long, successful, secure and trouble-free career in the National Health Service: Do your job as badly as you possibly can. Make sure you are the laziest and most incompetent shit-bag in your department. Come on duty late every day, skive as much as you can, sneak off early before the end of your shift. Take at least one day off sick a week. If... when... you are promoted to senior management grades, be a total greedy, corrupt, stupid, gutless, destructive and irresponsible bastard. I can hundred percent guarantee the NHS will never sack you. On the contrary you'll go a long way; be contemptible enough and you'll be treated as a favourite. The NHS only sacks people for making videos in their spare time, see:, or for being "too honest", see: The latest news is another prime example. Sarah Kuteh is a fully-trained and highly experienced NHS nurse. She started nursing in London over fifteen years ago and ended up as a ward sister. Since 2012 she had been a sister in the intensive care unit at Darent Valley Hospital in Kent. She then received "complaints" from patients... apparently. Complaints in the NHS are anonymous and can be concocted by management; as in my case, see link above. What were these alleged complaints about Sister Kuteh? Was she slapping people around, groping male patients' bottoms or stealing money from their bedside locker?... No. She told patients she would pray for them and even gave one of them a bible... Yes it really is as bad as that!

Sister Kuteh is a devout Christian and regards this as extraneous to her job. However, like all front line NHS staff, patients liked to talk to her about their personal feelings. As far as I'm concerned that is an important part of the healing process. In fact one of her duties was to ask patients about their religious beliefs. This is normal practice for ITU patients, basically for the grim reason that in case they get a terminal prognosis they might request the last rites or something similar. This questionnaire often led to a discussion about religious faith and if the patient was interested in Sister Kuteh's beliefs sometimes she offered to pray for them. However management at the Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust were "concerned" that her "unwanted discussions" were "upsetting the patients". No doubt the words "offensive", "unprofessional" and "inappropriate" came into the conversation at some point. She had received warnings previously that she had supposedly not heeded. As a result she was summarily suspended from duty and escorted from the hospital site, and was forbidden to talk to her colleagues, other than her union representative. She broke down in tears as she described this experience to a reporter. She was dismissed in August and had her appeal rejected. She was not allowed to bring any witnesses to the tribunal. The mother of three children is now suing the trust for unfair dismissal. I can't wish her success enough in her campaign for justice against the deplorable scumfucks who always float to the top in NHS administration. It sounds like a similar case to my own. I'm very concerned at the way Christians are treated in modern society, and this is me speaking as a non-Christian (I'm a lapsed Catholic). It would be regarded as socially unacceptable to treat a Muslim, Jew or Hindu in this way; indeed even atheists are now, quite correctly, asserting their human rights. See the background links below for more examples. Sister Sarah Kuteh is a thought-criminal and a prisoner of conscience. Her enemies are both the NHS and the political correctness agenda. I salute her as a civilian colleague who has been persecuted and expelled because "her relationship with the Trust had broken down" and wish her all the best for the future.