Wednesday 13 December 2017

I can't find words to describe horrifying HSE

Official briefing: the HSE
Official briefing: the HSE

John Masterson

'When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean." That wasn't Donald Trump talking about his "campaign" where it appears that what one says is not intended to be taken seriously, according to the President-elect's new definition of the word. No. It was Humpty Dumpty in Alice Through The Looking Glass. Well now we all have to pick up the pieces. And one fears The Donald is not done with breaking things and will continue to see much of the world in a bubble most of us do not inhabit and makes Alice in Wonderland look quite normal.

Other words were dismissed as locker room talk, as if they meant absolutely nothing. I am not naive enough to think that men do not talk a little differently when in a group, just as women do, but in my experience they don't take on some alter ego that has no relation to what they actually think.

For me words matter. I have often used them foolishly, but it was me who was talking. I have been thoughtless, and that means not thinking out the full meaning, or impact, of what one says. I have at times had too much to drink and said things I regret, but they were not an alternative me. They were an unwise me. Donald does not have that excuse as, to his credit, I don't think he has taken a drink in his life.

Closer to home we have an organisation that perhaps Donald could turn his attention to when he has fixed America. I suspect he will find it tougher than leading the Western world. It is called the HSE and they have in common with Donald an ability to use language that makes my blood run cold. I can think of no excuse for a circular that was issued by the HSE on October 11.

I had got used to the term "bed blocker" and all that it entailed. I did understand that some people stay in hospital longer than necessary because they have nowhere to go. There is often no step down facility and there may be no family willing or able to take care of the person while they are convalescing. But to read of such people described as "trespassers" in an official briefing document is horrifying and goes way beyond any "I didn't mean it to come out the way it sounds" excuse. The memo intended for senior managers went on to advise that nurses could use "minimum force" to remove these "trespassers" and helpfully provided a list of duty solicitors for hospitals to assist in removing patients from beds. Words say something about the people who use them. What these words say to me about the HSE is that it is run by people who share no values with the doctors and nurses that I have met.

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