Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Angry Doctor vs Cameron & Clegg

On one level I sympathise with the consultants anger at journalists not following the correct hygiene regime but mostly I find the arrogance and rudeness sadly typical of the self important, jumped up little hitlers that are all too evident in our health service, especially at consultant level.

If you listen to what he's actually complaining about, it's not that the hygiene of the ward is at risk from the tie wearing journos, but that "we", as in him and his colleagues, have been made to remove ties etc. (whether he means just for that day or always is unclear). In reality, he's offended by the presence of the prime minister and his deputy and outraged that his entourage should be allowed to break a rule.

One has to wonder why he didn't take this up with the ward sister who is responsible for hygiene on the ward and who asked Cameron and Clegg to remove their ties but not the journalists. I suspect he just wanted to show how much more important he was than the visitors he had on his ward and the staff running it, despite the great publicity they were bringing to his hospital (until he turned up).

"I'm not having it", he exclaims as he is ushered away by mortified managers and more level headed colleagues. Any normal concerned professional would have been asking questions of those very same managers and ward staff as to why the rules were allowed to be broken. The ward sister must be furious. It's her domain of responsibility after all. Now, if Cameron was suggesting what kind of operation the patient should have on his leg, then fair enough. The senior orthopaedic surgeon would have been rightly outraged at such temerity and impertinence. But instead he's lost his rag over the apparel of some journalists.

I think this illustrates something I've observed in my dealing with the medical profession and, to varying extents with other professions. That is the almost total and unquestioning respect and deference these people receive from those around them for achieving the position they have. While most deserve the respect and don't let it go to their heads some, like this chap, truly believe they are above everyone else, not just in terms of attainment, which is often true, but they actually believe they are better, more important than all those around them. In this case, he believes he's better than the managers, the ward sister and the prime minister and his deputy.

It can't be healthy when such deferential treatment produces such utter arses. It's certainly been my experience that NHS consultants are not infallible. Given their mistakes can cost lives, a bit of humility might not go amiss and may even make them better healers, as well as people.


  1. i LOL at this video. Its good that he said something. However as a nurse, I agree with what you've written here. the reason for rolling up of sleeves removal of watches and anything from elbow down and removal ties is to do with hygiene and the fact doctors bend down over people and ties sleeves etc pick up germs, which gets transferred from patient to patient. The fact the journalists arent really having patient contact, nor are they performing invasive procedures, eg looking at dressings etc. Kind of makes the Consultant look like a spoilt patronising brat, that hasn't stopped to think of rationale before his rant!!! Something I have seen all to common!!!

  2. A ward sister is going to be beholden to the whims of the hospital management who obviously see the publicity as more important than the clinical regime of the ward. This chap has more clout by virtue of his position and is unafraid to use it. Would you prefer that everyone was meek and bowed at the feet of the political elite and accompanying entourage every time they want some oppotunistic publicity. It's a hospital, not a t.v. studio.

  3. Agree with Anon #1. In what practical way could it possibly make any difference how the camera crew were wearing their sleeves, or if they had ties on? The Consultant didn't just look like a spoilt brat, he looked positively unhinged and I wouldn't be comfortable putting my life in his hands. If he had a political problem with the PM visiting he could have stayed away rather than throwing a public tantrum.

    firebird2110 - not wanting to be anon but can't be arsed to log in ;-)

  4. Thanks Anon comment 1. You make an excellent point about the journalists not getting near patients therefore not needing to adhere to the rule the consultant is getting his knickers in a twist about.

    It must be frustrating working in a role as demanding as that of a nurse and to have to deal with jumped up prats like this on a daily basis. My admiration for your profession just increases the more I see of this kind of thing.

  5. Thanks Firebird2110. It is worrying how irrational someone with so much responsibility over peoples' health and well being can be. Still, at least he can feel big and important for a day or so which is the most important thing, of course! ;)

  6. @ Anon 2. No, I don't want everyone to be meek and bowed to the political elite and the entourage. I do want my highly paid, highly trained consultants to display good judgement and common sense. This fellow doesn't, even if he was right about the clinical regime on the ward, which is dehateable (see Anon 1's comment).

    It's not just this guy's unnecessary rudeness and massive ego though. It's the way some consultants conduct themselves. I've seen it with my own eyes aswell as reading countless stories written in response to this story on other blogs and websites that point to a culture of arrogance and superciliousness that is unacceptable in modern work places and doesn't do anything to help medical care. If anything it could damage it as others in the medical teams fear to challenge their "superiors". Yes, it happens in all walks of life. But it seems a lot more prominent in healthcare especially with consultants.