THE leader of Britain’s police chiefs, Martin Hewitt, has promised that officers will attend all homes that have been burgled.
Thank you, Mr Hewitt, that’s really good of you. Police doing the job they’re paid for – who’d have thought it? What can we expect next? A pledge from fire chiefs that crews will attend all homes that are ablaze?
Call me old-fashioned, but I thought one compelling reason for having a police force was so that officers could visit crime scenes to look the place over, interview witnesses, take statements, etc. You know – the sort of stuff we see on TV dramas all the time, with forensic bods taking samples and checking for fingerprints, while constables make door-to-door inquiries and senior detectives narrow their eyes and spot clues that everyone else has missed.
The reality, it seems, is rather different. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley has admitted that at one stage only half the burglaries reported to his force got a visit from an officer.
I realise that the police are stretched, underfunded, busy skateboarding, dancing the Macarena, offering comforting words to eco-idiots who have glued themselves to roads, etc. But it’s scandalous that they apparently can’t find the time to at least show their faces when someone has suffered a break-in.
Thankfully, I’ve never been burgled. But I know from relatives and friends who have had their homes invaded and plundered how traumatic it is, leaving them emotionally scarred and in fear. There’s almost zero chance these days of any burglars being caught, and even less of them being realistically punished if apprehended. But just the gesture of a police officer turning up at a house might be some consolation to victims.
The police situation is symptomatic of other public services and organisations which make you feel you should be grateful when they do the job you’re paying them to do.
Some time ago, when an elderly relative was in care, I unfortunately came up against social workers. Never have I encountered such a bunch of lazy, thick, incompetent jobsworths. Before they would do anything meaningful, they would cover their own backs, quoting provisos and caveats about the narrowness of their remit, human rights, health and safety, risk assessment, etc. Then they would ensure the backs of their fellow shirkers were covered as well. Finally, if they could be bothered, and it wasn’t by now time to clock off, they might think about doing their job. Even then, they did it very badly. (I’m sure there are good social workers; perhaps I was unlucky.)
The same culture has now infected GPs, some of whom have imposed a Post-Lockdown New Order which means they can avoid seeing patients. Again, call me old-fashioned, but surely the whole point of being a doctor is to examine the sick, diagnose their ailments and arrange treatment? Not any more, it seems. At our local surgery, and I suspect at many others, it is now virtually impossible to come face to face with a GP. Instead, when we feel ill, we must fill in a long-winded ‘e-consult’ questionnaire online. (Technical note: If you see an ‘e’ in front of a word these days, it’s a fair bet it denotes some sort of bulls**t).
This questionnaire is then allegedly checked by a doctor, who decides whether you merit a real-life consultation. I suppose if the symptoms you submit seem life-threatening (‘the back of my head keeps falling off’), the GP might deign to phone you. However, what you almost invariably get is a call from a nurse telling you to take an aspirin.
Last year, after being plagued for weeks by a painful shoulder, I completed an ‘e-consult’ and asked to see my GP, hoping to be sent for an X-ray or scan, which would have been the routine procedure in saner days. No chance. I was fobbed off by being referred to a physiotherapist – but it wasn’t a face-to-face appointment. Instead, he ludicrously had me doing arm-stretching exercises over the phone as he tried to remotely diagnose what was wrong. I still can’t believe I participated in such a farce.
It seems the only time you’re likely to see your doctor in the flesh nowadays is when he’s dishing out Covid jabs on a production-line basis, earning a tenner or so per patient from the NHS.
And now it transpires that almost two-thirds of trainee GPs in England plan to work part-time just a year after they qualify, because being a family doctor is so ‘stressful’. They will be putting in just two-and-a-half or three days a week.
So for frustrated patients, the prognosis worsens – trying to see a doctor is going to become even more of a sick joke.