The George Cross is the highest civilian award for extreme gallantry and has been presented to an elite handful of very brave men and women over the years. I have met only two of these heroes during my life, both of whom were coppers who put their lives on the line in terrifying circumstances.
Now, on the recommendation of the supreme political buffoon, Bunter Johnson and his ‘committee,’ this prestigious medal has been awarded to the entire NHS, thereby demeaning its value and prestige to the truly brave.
Yes, I know that thousands of front line doctors and more importantly, front line nurses risked their lives on a daily basis during the coronabug nonsense and I admire them for their dedication. At the same time, not only was this the job they signed up for, but every Thursday at 8pm in March, April and May 2020 many Britons emerged from their home prisons to bang pots and pans during the weekly ‘clap for carers.’ I confess I only did it once, but Princetown evenings at that time of year tend to be very cold and miserable.
But it seemed that this obviously terrified nation was united behind ‘protecting the NHS’ during what was at the time, a genuinely unprecedented modern health emergency.
In January this year, when the idea of a weekly clap was revived, there was barely a trickle of folk who took part. The streets largely stayed silent and the clap was forever shelved – and rightly so. Did we ever clap for supermarket workers, bus drivers, dustmen or other who carried on with their jobs while so many other were sitting at home and being paid for it? Of course we did not.
In those six months, Britons had woken up to the reality that as an organisation, the NHS – a service for which we personally pay for through taxation – was not ready to protect us during a pandemic, however much we were exhorted to protect it.
Cancer patients were having treatment denied or delayed, waiting lists for surgical procedures were swelling to record levels and for some unfathomable reason many NHS GPs were refusing to see us face-to-face.
The collateral damage was unprecedented and the reverberations on the nation’s health will be felt for at least the next decade. Many experts believe it is likely that in the long-term, the NHS may have caused more deaths than saved lives by discouraging non-covid patients from visiting hospitals and doctors’ surgeries during the height of the first wave.
So why have these government turnips, led by Bunter J lessened the value and prestige of the highest award for civilian gallantry? Does he really believe that the desk jockeys and overpaid pen pushers who run the NHS are as brave as civilians who have displayed the highest courage?
I am certainly not complaining about the individual heroes who undertake extraordinary feats on a daily basis to save our lives, but I’m certain most of those brilliant frontline staffers would rather receive a reasonable pay rise and proper resources than this form of empty gesture. Or if we are not going to pay them more, let’s identify the frontline workers who really put themselves at risk and give them individual gongs and due recognition dammit!
But this particular George Cross is to the entire NHS, an organisation so full of waste and bureaucracy that it needs to fundamentally rethink how it is run to avoid the country being shut down again for over fifteen months in order to protect it. The longer that we lionise this sprawling and horribly top-heavy health service – be it through Olympic opening ceremonies or gallantry awards granted by the Queen – the more impossible it becomes for politicians to have an honest discussion about the drastic action required to ensure the NHS is at least fit for purpose and doesn’t bankrupt the country.
The Queen’s handwritten message yesterday appeared to suggest the NHS is somehow above politics.
She wrote: ‘It is with great pleasure, on behalf of a grateful nation, that I award the George Cross to the National Health Services of the United Kingdom. This award recognises all NHS staff, past and present, across all disciplines and all four nations.
‘Over more than seven decades, and especially in recent times, you have supported the people of our country with courage, compassion and dedication, demonstrating the highest standards of public service. You have our enduring thanks and heartfelt appreciation.’
They are lovely words and, as always, Queenie means well, yet did she have her tongue in her cheek, so to speak? The Royals don’t use the NHS unless it is unavoidable. The family tends to use the posh King Edward VII in London’s Marylebone, described as the capital’s ‘foremost private hospital.’
It was where the Queen chose to have surgery on her knee and the Duchess of Cambridge received treatment for severe morning sickness. Princess Margaret also died at the hospital. Prince Philip was treated there earlier this year but was briefly transferred to the NHS teaching hospital St Bartholomew’s for surgery.
In recent decades, royals have tended to give birth in private hospitals too, with Princess Diana and Kate opting for the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital. The Markle woman and Princess Eugenie both chose London’s private Portland Hospital.
There are exceptions in emergencies, of course. The Countess of Wessex was rushed to the NHS Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey to give birth to her daughter in 2012 after suffering from severe chest pains.
So why on earth did Bunter Johnson and his committee allow this to happen? Was this just another of his grandiose and useless – usually self-defeating – gestures?
I fear this George Cross will make it even harder for the new Health Secretary Sajid Javid to make the tough reforms required, working with a new yet-to-be appointed NHS England chief executive, so that this situation never occurs again.
Anyway, the entire concept is idiotic How can an award for gallantry be awarded to hundreds of thousands of people?
As I have said, there were some people – doctors and nurses – who really worked flat out, it was horrific, and they were doubtless traumatised. There were others who never saw a patient as whole departments were shut and they sat on their bums at home or in empty hospital rooms and took every opportunity to avoid patient contact.
So no, this whole damned thing is a nonsense and even by his own very low standards our ‘Revered Leader’ has hit a new low. This is idiotic virtue signalling on his part. The ‘heroic’ NHS have been far from heroic for most people over the last year or so. Do some real work Bunter J and identify the real heroes without making empty gestures and lowering the value of the George Cross.