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26 May 2022

Opinion from Adrian Leopard & Co

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Exactly who are the NHS heroes?
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Exactly who are the NHS heroes?

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NHS employee setting up a PPE supply company more than a disappointment

The word “hero” has been on everyone’s lips now for some weeks and has been universally applied to the “NHS” or by implication its employees.

I thought I would check the dictionary definition of “hero”. It says “a person of distinguished courage or ability admired for his or her brave deeds and noble qualities”. In applying this definition to the NHS, there are without doubt many heroes and I would suggest that this definition applies to those who serve at the front line, rather like soldiers in any war, and in particular who put themselves at personal risk.

There can be no doubt that we see innumerable doctors, nurses and other health workers at the front line putting themselves at personal risk. Sadly quite a number have paid the ultimate price for taking risk. It is just a month ago that I wrote about the NHS and its role in what was then a developing situation and we now have the opportunity to look back. We recall that many of the front-liners were volunteers coming back into the arena to help with the growing crisis.

I am sure everyone takes their hats off to those real heroes who have literally risked their lives to help their fellow man.

It was very disappointing to hear just yesterday in the news that in the middle of April an employee of the NHS in their procurement department had set up a company to acquire and re-sell PPE to the NHS and the private sector. The full story can be found here

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/may/01/revealed-nhs-procurement-official-privately-selling-ppe

It makes very sad reading because whether you feel that the individual concerned, who is named, was acting ethically and without conflict in accordance with his duties towards the NHS or not, the whole thing leaves a rather nasty taste in the mouth because it smacks of profiteering at the expense of sick and dying of our country. The article claims that the employee says he has no conflict and that he verified this with the NHS. If that is true then it seems to me that the NHS has exercised very poor judgement. I am the first to applaud entrepreneurs who are prepared to work hard and build businesses. People like me would be out of a job without them! But was this the right time and place?

Around the country we see the “NHS” fêted as heroes and it only takes one instance of abuse for the bubble to be burst. This is not the only example – we see advertising on television of free food for NHS employees. Are those employees just “the heroes” or is it all of them? When you listen to the advert, the food is not free at all – the companies doing it would appear to be getting paid by public donation which is why they are paying for expensive advertising on television. Does that constitute profiteering? A certain internet company is giving free internet to NHS employees for a period of months. Forgive me for thinking there is an ulterior motive.

And by the way, are we to assume by the way this campaign has been orchestrated that there are no heroes other than in the NHS? What about the staff who work in care homes, for example, who have not had it so good when it comes to PPE? Surely their risk has been even higher. There will be other heroes as well.

I am sure that the employees of the NHS, who are after all paid to do their jobs, work very hard, particularly during times such as these but when it comes to heroes, are they not the ones who give service to their fellow man knowing that there is always a possibility that their own sacrifice could be huge.

Adrian Leopard 02-05-20

Photo Edward Howell

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