Who Are We Protecting the NHS For?

The single most important action you can take is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.

Even if you yourself may be dying, the important thing is: protect the NHS. (Afterthought: and save lives).


Has anyone actually asked who we are protecting the NHS for? My impression was that, as a national health service, its mandate was more about serving and protecting us than the other way around. Y’know, when our health and possibly our lives are in danger.

But apparently not.

Last month a doctors’ surgery in Wales took the time to inform patients with “life limiting” illnesses such as cancer and heart failure that they were “unlikely to be offered hospital admission should they become unwell, and certainly would not be offered a ventilator bed.”

As a result, the letter cheerily continued, the best thing for these people to do would be to die at home. If they could therefore kindly sign and return a Do Not Resuscitate (DNACPR) form, they would be doing the NHS a great service, protecting it by preventing it from having to use any of its resources to help them live a little longer.

In grand Orwellian (an overused word nowadays, I know, but unfortunately accurate) display of NewSpeak, the letter continued: “Completing a DNACPR form will have several benefits.”

These benefits include friends and family knowing “not to call 999,” and the targeting of “scarce” resources to the “young and fit.” They may as well have written: “Your illness, and your being, is a burden to society. Please stop selfishly using resources. Just be a dear and shuffle off. It’s for the greater good.”

That the young and fit generally are not in need of NHS resources doesn’t appear to have occurred to the GPs, but the real world will insist on playing out scenarios to their logical conclusion nonetheless, and so this week we have had reports that most NHS hospitals are empty, the Nightingale ‘pop up’ hospitals are almost completely empty, and medics are more occupied with making Tic Toc videos than, er, medic-ing.

Consultants are being told by managers not to see patients with chronic conditions, because the NHS Must Be Protected. 20,000 more people are expected to die of cancer next year because diagnoses are not being made and treatment plans not started, but it’s ok, the NHS remains protected!

The impression given is that the perfect outcome, in the eyes of the government and NHS bosses, would be ward after ward of pristine empty beds, white bedcovers crisply turned down. If the outcome was achieved by curing people of their illnesses, it would certainly be worth applauding. But, as an alternative solution, I don’t think achieving it by leaving people to die on the hospitals’ doorsteps has quite the same moral standing.