Friday, July 30, 2004

Damn Computers!!

For the last couple of days my computer has been misbehaving, (apparantly I have a 'dialer'), and I have had to blog from the library at work. Time for this is limited so no other blogs today. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible...

Thursday, July 29, 2004

A Bad Week to Start Blogging

I've chosen a bad week to start blogging because I have the final assignment for a diploma due in this week. I could have written three assignments in the time spent setting this site up and posting views, although I've enjoyed doing both. I was going to post a view on capital punishment following the murdered schoolboy incident at the weekend, but Peter Cuthbertson has raised the same issue and most of what I would have commented on here I have said there. I'll try and come back to the issue later. There's not much to add to what Peter said other than to point out that the minimum sentence  of thirteen years awarded to Shahajan Kabir yesterday, for murdering his infant son Hassan, represents less than his son's childhood, let alone his life.

My assignment is on the treatment of HM prisoners in NHS hospitals, particularly in relation to the operating theatre where I work. As such I visited my local catagory C nick to talk to nurses there, fortunately in more favourable circumstances than Richard North. Prisoners are now treated by NHS staff, whether inside prison or out; until recently when in prison they were treated by Prison Officers with variable amounts of nursing experience. The new system isn't national yet, and there are still many, many problems. I will be commenting on these shortly. However, it remains my conviction that treating prisoners humanely is not incompatible with proportionate justice for murder.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Re-evaluating the First World War

Today’s Metro (A freebie newspaper for those travelling by public transport) recommends this website on the First World War. I’ve not had a chance to fully explore it yet, but it looks both interesting and comprehensive.

I’d always found the first world war a lot more inaccessible than the second, until I read Gordon Corrigan’s Mud, Blood and Poppy Cock last year. Corrigan is a former major in the Royal Ghurkha Rifles, and his is not a book which clouds itself in cold academic objectivity. It’s a passionate denunciation of the distortion of history that the First World War became, accompanied by an old soldier’s dryly witty asides, especially about the perfidy and vanity of politicians. A subject all to topical in the light of this governments attitude to defence commitments and cutbacks.

Corrigan deconstructs, one by one, the myths that have arisen about the war. As he says,

The popular British view of the Great War is of a useless slaughter of hundreds of thousands of patriotic volunteers, flung against barbed wire and machine guns by stupid generals who never went near the font line. When these young men could do no more, they were hauled before kangaroo courts, given no opportunity to defend themselves, and then taken out and shot at dawn. The facts are that over 200 British generals were killed, wounded or captured in the war, and of the five million men who passed through the British Army, 2300 were sentenced to death by military courts, of whom ninety percent were pardoned.

In fact just 346 men were shot, representing 1 in 14,500 soldiers. Many of those shot were either officers or senior NCOs, or had previously been pardoned for the same offence.

Corrigan says of Haig,

Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, far from being the ‘butcher and bungler’ of popular belief, was the man who took a tiny British army, and expanded it, trained it and prepared it until it was the only Allied army capable of defeating the Germans militarily in 1918.

I last saw my late uncle nine months ago (he died in June) and we discussed the book quite thoroughly. Himself a servant of the crown for 26 years, he told me that his father in law wouldn’t hear a word said against Haig until the end of his life. The most evocative book I have read on the subject since was Forgotten Voices, edited by Max Arthur, a compilation of the memories of old soldiers, recorded in the 1970s, many of whom held views similar to my uncle’s father-in-law.

War is inevitably a product of the failure of politicians. Given the current state of the world, I think it’s right that this period of our history should be re-evaluated by historians.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

The Queen speaks again

Interesting article in the Times,,3-1192536,00.html on the possibility of science being able to retrieve the voice recordings on the very oldest phonographic cylinders and 78s. Apparently we are soon to hear the voices of eminent Victorians once again, including Alfred Tennyson, Florence Nightingale and even the Queen herself. (No suggestion unfortunately that the great Lord Salisbury might be among them)

Monday, July 26, 2004

Parliamentary "bedblockers"

An interesting article By George Trefgarne and Jonathan Isaby in the Telegraph today, on plans to quietly encourage around thirty under performing Tory MPs to announce their retirement as soon as possible, allowing plenty of time for new parliamentary candidates to be selected before to the general election. The new term for these Billy Bunteresque characters is “Parliamentary bed blockers”. As a nurse I find the analogy all too appropriate.

Another analogy springs to mind as well. One of the most depressing things about today’s Tory Party, or at least the parliamentary party, is it’s faint air of embarrassment. Professionally I encounter potentially embarrassing situations every day. My first job, as a smooth cheeked, eighteen year old was to give pubic shaves to men old enough to be my grandfather. (These days we allow patients to shave themselves, or they are shaved under anaesthetic before the operation starts. Who says the NHS isn't concerned about patient dignity). I learnt very quickly that nothing was more likely to lead to their embarrassment than my own, and I quickly developed a form of manly banter to ease the tricky social situation, much of it involving football and motor bikes, subjects which I know no more about now than I did then.

While the link between shaving others peoples genitals and the current state of the Conservative Party is not obvious, it does lie here; If they are bashful and apologetic what confidence can we have in them. We are told there is a new generation of young Tories, hungry for power, waiting their opportunity their turn to enter the arena. Open the cage doors I say.

Where did the smell of disinfectant go?

There seems to be a growing fear among the British population that MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) is reaching epidemic proportions. The subject is covered in an article entitled Private Hospitals Don’t Get MRSA by James Bartholemew in today’s Sunday Telegraph. (Sorry I can’t do links yet.) In particular he states:

The danger of getting MRSA is, above all, a risk affecting patients of the NHS. Officially the number of people infected by MRSA in the bloodstream - the dangerous place to get it - is about 7,600 a year. But this is a minimum. It is possible for someone to die of MRSA without a post-mortem test to discover whether it was the cause of death. Even if we take this minimum, though, how does it compare with the private sector?

BMI Healthcare is one of the biggest private hospital groups in the UK, with 47 hospitals. During the course of a year, the group has a quarter of a million in-patients and three-quarters of a million out-patient visits. How many patients in BMI hospitals have acquired MRSA in the blood? None. In fact, over the years, the company has "never" had such a case.

My own view is that the problem has several causes. They include a government which is more than happy to point the blame at the personal hygiene of doctors and nurses and a nursing profession which is institutionally programmed to see itself as the passive victim of governmental parsimony. These problems are compounded by a management system which long ago forgot the distinction between management and leadership. None of them seem to be asking “Why the NHS?”

When I started nursing in 1982 hospitals had a distinctive smell of disinfectant. Where did it go?

Sunday, July 25, 2004

I hate computers.

I really, really, really hate computers. There's just so much about them that I don't understand. Every computer course I've ever done has either treated me like an idiot, (This is the screen, this is the keyboard etc) or assumed a vast level of knowledge that I just don't have. It's probably not computers I hate, just the feeling very, very stupid. Working for the NHS I can apply to study for the European Driving Licence in Computing (or some such nonsense), which apparently any NHS employee can ask to study regardless of whether they are a director or a cleaner. Who says the NHS wastes money. I'm instinctively skeptical of anything with the word European in the title, but it might be time to swallow my pride and give it a go. Meanwhile does anybody have any idea how to download my picture into my profile, or how to set up a list of favorite links?

Saturday, July 24, 2004

EU Referendum

I'm still playing around with the site, learning what I can do and what I can't. I did think this was quite interseting though.

Why this site is called the Salisbury Pages

Lord Salisbury was British Prime Minister at the end of the 19th century, the golden age of laissez faire government. He was quoted as saying (something like) "Governments should do nothing, for when ever they do anything they invariably get it wrong". It was rare wisdom from a statesman and todays politicians would do well to learn from it!

My first day as a blogger

I've just spent most of this afternoon trying to set up this blog site. It's quite a learning curve bacause I'm not as computer literate as I'd like. Still conservatism is as much about moving with the times as holding onto the past.

Today I entered my profile (which will probably get changed), failed to download a photo of myself and swore a lot. Tomorrow I hope will be better.

I'm not normally this smart Posted by Hello
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