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  • Writer's picturegailphilip4

What goes on behind the scenes

It is easy to overlook the key role of people who don’t get the front-line publicity. For example, in a restaurant we see the waiter who serves us, and may tip him or her in appreciation. But the chef and kitchen staff? Are they complimented for their work? Do they get to share in the tips? Perhaps.

In a hospital setting we tend to think of the doctors and nurses rather than all the ancillary workers who are less prominent. There was a recent Sunday Times article which tried to make explicit the significance and importance of these other roles. Of cleaners: Lives depend on a clean hospital, they take their responsibility extremely seriously. Of porters: a hospital without porters would perform about as effectively as a hospital without electricity or oxygen. Of kitchen staff: Food is crucial to any patient’s recovery, and there are scores of staff beavering away. Of healthcare assistants: Their job description is endless: helping patients to the loo or to wash, taking their pulse and temperature, making beds.... Of volunteers: if these volunteers were to vanish the NHS would fall apart. (Adam Kay in Sunday Times Magazine 10 May)

Further, if you consider all the staff working in Care Homes you sense something of our dependence on many many thousands of folk who don’t have particularly glamorous or high profile jobs but whose contribution is absolutely vital.

A lot – maybe most – of the people I am thinking about do not have high qualifications and do not earn big money. In the future such people may not be admitted to work in the UK. Will that be in their interests or ours? And their pay?

One last thought. While qualifications have their place (obviously you want your doctor to know what she is talking about) are not life-skills and interpersonal skills also important? What about compassionate care? The empathy and fellow-feeling staff (including cleaners, porters, etc) show can make a massive difference to a patient’s state of mind and rate of recovery. Are these qualities sufficiently rated, recognised and financially rewarded?

Jesus used the medicine of his day, and he healed people in a seemingly miraculous way, but he always did so with compassion and attention to the individual. What were his medical qualifications?

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