I have never been to Switzerland but I like to think of it as a neat and tidy country with skiing facilities and interestingly shaped chocolate.
They tend not to get involved in the nonsense of wars, which I think marks them as civilised, and so I assume they are engaged in more progressive things like bobsleighing or philosophy. This caricatured perception was borne out this week with news that the Swiss are having a national referendum to decide if animals should be given the constitutional right to be represented in court.
It is, of course, a brilliantly absurd idea and we can only hope the Swiss vote “yes”. Who doesn’t want to see a group of kittens take a man to court for trying to drown them in a weighted sack? And how cool will it be when every cow in Europe mounts a collective case against all meat eaters demanding not only the banning of beef, but also fiscal remuneration for the brutal oppression of cows throughout history? And full voting rights.
‘I’ve said it before and will say it again - to rescue our NHS, we need it to become independent of the meddling of petty minded self interested politicians’
Except, legislating against cruelty won’t save the cows. We’ll still kill them - but there may be some rules put in place to ensure we don’t tease them first. Because essentially that’s what modern rules are for: to temper behaviour that will not change. Or to put it another way: to halfheartedly put fingers into dams and hope that, when the water crashes through, the wet people won’t blame you.
According to last week’s Sunday Times Lord Darzi commissioned three reports to assess the progress of the NHS as its 60th birthday approached in 2008. We shouldn’t be surprised, I suppose, that the less than kind conclusions were not made public.
At the heart of the reports was the failure of the targets system introduced over the previous 10 years to make healthcare provision better. The reports observed that: ‘the patient does not seem to be in the picture.’ Essentially, our healthcare system cannot see the wood for all the pesky processes and reorganisations. We have quangos and managerialism; we have jargon, self important senior administrators and a culture of fear among clinicians to oppose unhelpful directives. What we don’t have is a clear and simple investment in processes and language that support patient wellbeing.
I have said it before and will say it again. In order to at least attempt to rescue our health service, we need it to become independent of the meddling of petty minded self interested politicians. Unable to understand the best of health provision, they try to turn it into something they do understand - a bureaucracy. If the Bank of England can be independent so can the health service. But in addition to this liberation we need articulate and confidant nurses to be more involved with the politics of healthcare; we need people who are unafraid to talk about the humanity of good care and the qualities of tenderness and compassion that have to underpin it. That voice has been absent for far too long and, until it is heard, the patient will remain out of the picture.