How and why have we so hazardously misconceived our NHS staff

Published on Jan 1, 2021in British Journal of General Practice5.386
· DOI :10.3399/BJGP21X714485
David Zigmond3
Estimated H-index: 3
> ‘If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them with which to hang him.’ > > (Cardinal Richelieu, 1585–1642) > ‘We are pathetically eager to believe that if human affairs are managed right, nothing unpleasant need happen to anyone.’ > > (Sir Max Hastings, 1945-) Much of the world is anxiously stymied by COVID-19. Our assumptions of contemporary living simultaneously and shockingly unravelled and impassed. ‘Unprecedented’ is a common contemporary adjective. In the UK, our NHS was, early on, lionised and eulogised in heroic terms. Like religious icons or Soviet State art, its practitioners were referred to as saviours and martyrs. But this is very different from most of their experiences in recent years. At its start, this COVID crisis has, as emergencies do, galvanised a new cooperative and collegial motivation in many of our professionals as they have been — albeit transiently — again trusted to do their best to stem the alien tide. But although our enduring serious problems are temporarily out of sight we should beware: they remain, like perilous rocks, just beneath the water’s surface. The warm mist of adoration has — until it mostly passes — obscured a serious problem that has grown increasingly erosive to our NHS for several years: the destabilising demoralisation of much of our workforce. What has happened to our working culture? And what can we do about it? It is crucial that we ask this question in anticipation (hopefully) of a post-COVID national recovery as we will otherwise then return an exhausted, even more vulnerable, NHS to these enduring and gathering imperilments. Our healthcare headlines and news items in recent pre-COVID times were frequently about a service labouring under a regime riven by accusations and disputes about finances, territory, and responsibility. While still, often, providing satisfactory technology-dependent treatments well …
Cited By2
#1Carol Bryce (Warw.: University of Warwick)H-Index: 7
#2Agnieszka Ignatowicz (University of Birmingham)H-Index: 12
Last. Frances Griffiths (Warw.: University of Warwick)H-Index: 39
view all 8 authors...
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I enjoyed reading the article by David Zigmond and agree with him regarding how general practice has changed for the worse.1 However, it wasn’t always rosy before the reforms. My senior partners told of stories in the early 60s of awful morale and conditions in practice before the deal they got — largely exploitation by senior doctors who …
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