A Nurse Writes…

We’re publishing an original piece today by a woman who worked for four decades in the NHS as a nurse and midwife and now volunteers at a hospice. She thinks the coronavirus crisis has exposed our unwillingness to confront our own mortality. In particular, our obsession with extending people’s lives as long as we possibly can, regardless of whether they want to carry on living or not.

We are bombarded daily with carefully curated news reports that seem designed to induce fear and sentimentality often linked to the deaths of the frail and the elderly that exhort us to comply with the latest Government messages, one of which, trying to appeal to younger people, is “Don’t kill Granny”. Journalists delivering these reports appear to be looking over their shoulders to avoid censure by Ofcom. why else would they never challenge the received orthodoxies of the Government as they would if it were any other type of policy? Meanwhile, was anyone asking Granny what she wanted? These are taboo matters that cannot easily be aired in public as we live in a society of people who refuse to accept their own mortality until they might find themselves at this point and then wish that those around them would demonstrate more courage and compassion and wisdom in how they care for them. A recent episode of Hospital on BBC 2 featured Barnet General Hospital, which has been especially overwhelmed by COVID-19 as Barnet has the oldest demographic in London. It was difficult viewing but with a discerning eye I was fascinated to watch a lovely lady in her 80s, who had been found collapsed on the floor at home and had been diagnosed with a cardiac problem, not COVID-19. She said directly to camera she thought it was her time, that she was dying, that she believed in God and was essentially at peace with this. The young doctor treating this patient then speaks to camera after noticing how peaceful she is and interprets what she has said for the viewer: “She is in a delirium.” It seemed that the doctor could not accept what the patient had said and dismissed her ‘peace of mind’ as being ‘out of her mind’! This patient then spent the next few weeks in an acute bed being pushed to rehabilitate to a point when they realised that she would not be able to go home and live independently and so sent her off to a nursing home where no doubt currently she has become a prisoner of the state like so many others without being permitted to see loved ones. They call this a success story.

Worth reading in full.


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