Category Archives: Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust

Thatcherism is at the root of the health service mess

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 08.50.52Dalrymple lists the failings of the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust:

  • the ravening ambition of bureaucratic mediocrities
  • institutionally perverted incentives that reward those who do worst
  • the creation of a nomenklatura…at the head of an apparat staffed by bullied, intimidated, fearful but…unscrupulous apparatchiks
  • an inability or unwillingness to speak or write in plain English
  • intellectual dishonesty with compulsory lying on a vast scale
  • the proliferation of procedural objectives and bureaucratic tasks…unrelated…to reality or to the welfare of patients
  • a revolting tendency to Pecksniffian self-congratulation and righteousness

He calls the NHS

that vast charitable organisation for the outdoor relief of second-rate bureaucrats.

He points to the slick insidiousness of Tony Blair, who made Labour, once the party of the working class, the party of the nomenklatura. But Dalrymple’s greatest scorn is reserved for arguably the most overrated post-war British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher,

with her crude sub-Marxist view of the professions as…exploitative monopolists….She thought the methods and disciplines of the marketplace, imposed by ‘scientific’ management but in the absence of anything resembling a…market, would eliminate chronic inefficiency….This was…stupid…it called into being a managerial class, cunning and unscrupulous.

Of clysters and leeches

Dalrymple quotes, more or less at random, from Select Observations on English Bodies, or Cures Both Empericall and Historicall Performed upon Very Eminent Persons in Desperate Diseases by Shakespeare‘s son-in-law John Hall (from 5:40 in the video below, of a 2005 talk):

Mr Kempson, aged 60, oppressed with melancholy and a fever with extraordinary heat, very sleepy, so that he had no sense of his sickness, was cured as followeth. Leaves and mallows, beets, violets, mercury, hops, borage, epithymum, pennyroyal, wormroot, camomile, seeds of anis, caraway, cumin, fennel, nettles, bayberries, polypod, senna, bark of black hellebore. Boil them all in whey until half be wasted. Of this strain take an ounce. Confect, salt and mix them, and make a clyster.

This brought away two stools of a great deal of wind. It was given in the morning, and again at night. And after these were applied to the soles of his feet, radishes sliced, besprinkled with vinegar and salt, renewed every third hour. This hindered the recourse of vapours and drew them back, and so he slept far more quietly without starting and fear.

The following was prepared for his ordinary drink. Spring water, syrup of lemons, julep of roses, burnt and powdered finely, spirit of vitriol. After, the leeches being applied to the anus, there was drawn eight ounces of blood, after which was exhibited this: lapis bezoar, tincture of coral, mixed, given in drink. After this, the urine was very frothy, with a great sediment, and he was much better.

The clyster, drink and powder were repeated, with desired event. To remove sleepiness, he used to sneeze only with tobacco, and then he was given the restorative, and that was used.

But yet his stomach being very ill, I gave him this: emetic infusion, violets, oxymel of squirrels. This gave four vomits and nine stools, after which he was well for five days, and then relapsing into a shaking ague, a clyster being injected, he became well, bidding farewell to physick, and so was cured beyond all expectation and lived many years.