DR NIGEL Watson, like the North Hampshire CCG and the A31 Primary Care Network, knows how to speak the language of ‘freedoms’ and ‘challenges’ so typical of corporate NHS-speak.
So what does this tosh actually mean and what truth does it disguise?
‘Challenges’ means ‘too difficult’ and ‘freedoms’ means ‘what we allow our employees to do’.
Years spent leading an ethical lobbying practice have made me familiar with this double-speak. So on reading the A31 PCN statement, my first thought was: “This was not drafted in Bentley where the A31 Group is based, but in Chineham where the CCG is based.”
It wreaks of officialese, as does the statement from the CCG.
Sir Humphrey would be proud of their ability to deploy positive terminology while ignoring the emperor’s lack of clothes.
Dr Watson points out Alton’s highly-rated and effective GPs were “never going to deliver the volumes that were needed” and so the decision about where vaccinations were to be delivered was left to the Primary Care Networks.
What this means is a bad decision was made at the outset and that our local GPs were forced to choose between delivering vaccinations efficiently and delivering them locally.
Few employees have the nerve to tell their paymasters and bosses: “You have got your decision all wrong. Common sense tells us it is a bad idea to send 35,000 people for jabs along a dangerous road in the winter, where public transport is largely non-existent, against government advice.”
To then suggest they accept this decision “wouldn’t suit everyone” begs the question: “Show us one person in Alton it does suit?”
In setting out the background, Dr Watson wholly fails to address the truth that somehow vaccination centres could be made available in Bordon and Petersfield to populations half that of Alton and rural.
So why is Alton the exception?
Dr Watson does not set out to disguise the issue is one of people, rather than premises. So let’s be clear about the elephant in the room. The reason why vaccinations are not being delivered in Alton is because the town lacks the necessary trained people to deliver them. Why is this?
There are two answers. Firstly, and dispiritingly, the drive to recruit potential vaccinators is riven with bureaucracy. It has taken one highly-respected former GP of my acquaintance almost three months to get to the point where he can join the vaccination effort. This is a man who has taught people how to inject patients.
At times, the NHS, which we all love and admire, can be its own worst enemy.
The second, and perhaps more important reason, for the failure to deliver vaccinations on any scale in Alton springs from the failure to provide the necessary infrastructure to support the area’s growing population.
This is not the fault of the GPs who have moved mountains to deliver our vaccinations, albeit in the wrong place. It is a failing over many years to stand up for Alton and insist we will no longer allow ourselves to be sidelined, by-passed and undermined. This is a simple issue of will.
BY SIR CHARLES COCKBURN
MEDSTEAD ROAD, BEECH