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NHS equality waffle, just what we need in a killer pandemic


WHAT follows is taken direct from the website of the named organisation – note the date:

NHS Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BSW CCG) recognises and values the diversity of our local communities.

We are committed to equality, diversity and inclusion, not least because we believe these are fundamental to the commissioning of modern, high quality health services.

On 1 April 2020, we set the following equality objectives for our CCG:

1.   Equality and diversity public sector duties will be duly considered by all staff when carrying out business as usual; by the use of a consistent approach of a BSW approved Equality Impact Assessment template process.

2.   An Equality Impact Assessment will be submitted to accompany any proposed procurements, changes or alterations to services commissioned to the relevant committee, noting all potential actions to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and engagement with key groups and providers of services.

         3.   Local population and service user groups will be engaged with; to determine locality requirements such as specific language translation, cultural needs and accessibility to services.

Click below to find out how else we eliminate unlawful discrimination and promote outcome equality.

I passed up the offer to ‘click below’ as by then I’d seen enough. My Sixties grammar school offered courses up to A-level in English, French and German, but nobody felt it necessary to add fluent bo***cks to the curriculum.

From my perspective as an ageing writer and a captive customer of this CCG, I wonder how anybody can produce this sort of stuff with a straight face. Do they actually all believe in it, or is it just that nobody wants to take the risk of pointing out that the emperor has no clothes? 

There are multiple examples on the website of this sort of abuse of our beautiful language, but the one thing you won’t find is any indication of how many people the CCG employs, although I’m sure we can all make a good guess at some of the job titles.

This is where the money goes, not on front line services, but on someone that in the midst of a pandemic and a total lockdown of society, still thinks it a good idea to produce a new set of ‘equality objectives’. 

No doubt over the next few years, as inquiries into the current fiasco are concluded, the usual phrases ‘lessons have been learned’, ‘procedures have been updated’, will appear in writing and be spoken in press conferences.

All, as we know from experience, utterly pointless, when this is the sort of garbage that is being updated. You could read every word on this website and be none the wiser as to how or why it was necessary to insert something called a CCG between your GP and a hospital appointment.

It appears to be just another layer of unwelcome bureaucracy, more jobs for managers, diversity officers and equality co-ordinators. It’s typical of the sort of fiddling around the edges without addressing the real problem that seems to be the destiny of every Health Secretary, regardless of political affiliation. 

It’s something that in other areas of life, I have come to call ‘Square Two thinking’. Put bluntly, a failure to return to basics and ask if this is still the best way to achieve the objective, or in my terms, a refusal to ‘go back to Square One’.

There is, of course, absolutely no prospect of any government taking such a bold course in respect of the NHS, and if there had been, it’s been washed away in recent weeks.

The founders of the NHS knew pretty clearly what they wanted to deliver and they produced a system that worked – I can vouch for that, having survived pneumonia, measles, German measles, chickenpox, whooping cough, scarlet fever and a broken arm in the first six years of the service.

My mother claimed she knew our family doctor as well as she knew our father. Her faith in the original NHS was almost universally shared, a 1955 opinion poll giving it a 90 per cent positive rating. 

But the founders of the service had no concept of how the world would change. If they sat down now with a blank sheet of paper, would they choose to pay for cosmetic surgery, gastric bands, IVF, etc?

Would they recognise that if you employ doctors and nurses from Country X, as night follows day, friends and relatives from Country X will arrive seeking free treatment?

Most of all, would they ever have imagined that their simple mix of family doctors and local hospitals would now be providing employment for 1.5million people and have acquired cult status, with weird rituals involving saucepans on a weekly basis?!

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Alan Potts
Alan Potts
Retired IT consultant, currently tipster, author and racehorse owner.

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