“I thought I’d imagined sirens wailing faintly in the distance but Mark had heard them too and stood up quickly to check which direction they were coming from before telling the folks controlling the traffic to stop the southbound flow to allow the ambulance a clear run up the other way. The bugles grew louder as they steamed towards me like the 7th cavalry, then stopped instantly as they pulled alongside. Seconds later I was handed an oxygen mask and told – somewhat redundantly I thought – to suck hard and fast.”
If you read the paragraphs preceding that one, you’ll understand just how relieved I was to see the paramedics. This morning I couldn’t help reflecting how I’d feel if something similar happened twenty years later and I found myself flat out on the tarmac, in absolute agony, waiting for an ambulance that was unlikely to arrive because today was an NHS strike day?
I’d like to believe that in spite of the painfulness of my immediate circumstances, I’d still agree with and be 100% supportive of the NHS workers’ action because the thought that the standard of living of the literally hundreds of individuals who contributed to my treatment and recovery have declined in real terms since that accident in 2003 hurts almost as much as my injuries did at the time.
Lest anyone be so thoroughly in thrall to the mainstream media that they’ve forgotten, they are the self same workers who in spite of seeing their wages fall in real terms ever since 2010, worked throughout lockdown – thereby exposing themselves to the virus that everyone was hiding away from – and were lauded as heroes and cynically applauded by the same Prime Minister who kept a straight face while he pretended to believe Dominic Cummings’ ridiculous excuses for his cross country jaunt and who lied through his teeth about partying in Downing Street.
So please don’t allow anyone, least of all a government who only a couple of years ago was hailing them as ‘heroes’ (while at the same time filling the off-shore accounts of their cronies with millions if not billions for useless PPE, track & trace that didn’t, and a variety of other dodgy scams) persuade you that the strikers are the ones who are choosing to put your health and physical welfare at risk.
Make no mistake, the Conservatives are perfectly content to continue running the NHS down until the prospect of privatisation begins to sound like the only sensible solution. (You can ask a US citizen who doesn’t have insurance how that will work out. I realise there are other models in Germany, France and Scandinavia, but which one do you honestly think the Tories are likely to go for? Clue: which one is likely to generate the most profit for their supporters?). So in the absence of people taking to the streets in their masses demanding that the government support this country’s greatest asset, the striking NHS workers are, once again, the only people who have your best interests at heart.
Next time they’re on strike, why don’t you go and join a picket line to bang a saucepan and applaud the bravery of the self same heroes who pulled us through Covid, while the people who are condemning them so vociferously now were busy partying and profiteering.