Mocked for defending a hospital. Must be doing something right!

I’ve been mocked by a Blairite ex-Dept of Health policy advisor for my recent post on Kettering General Hospital and the lies Tory health minister Daniel Poulter told to one of his own MPs about plans to downgrade the hospital.

Joseph Farrington-Douglas, who used to be Chief Health Advisor to John Healey (when he was Labour Minister for the NHS)  tweeted this message to his followers on Monday:


Here’s his comment in plain text, in case you have any problems with the image:

Silly HIMBYist Save Our Hospital shenanigans. An MRSA on all their houses.

An MRSA is Mr F-D’s attempt at a humorous variation on ‘a plague’. It stands for ‘multiply resistant staphylococcus aureus’ – the drug-resistant ‘superbug’ that regularly kills people in hospitals – especially if the private cleaning contractors cut back cleaning to enhance profits. So it’s nice of him to wish it on people who are trying to protect hospitals. Classy, even.

I must be doing something right – being mocked by a right-winger who’s happy to see our NHS broken is something I consider a badge of honour.

Unfortunately – as so often happens – when we point one finger at others, we point 3 back at ourselves, so Mr F-D’s ‘insult’ reveals a lot more about him than about me. Especially since HIMBY – ‘happening in my back yard’ – is laughably inaccurate in the case to which he’s referring.

According to Google Maps, I live 185 miles from Kettering General Hospital. My back garden (the first two houses of my life had yards, but not this one) measures about 50 feet in length, and it would take me over 3 hours to get there on a good traffic day. If I had a back yard that big, I’d be ashamed to be hogging it all for myself.

So my comments about, and defence of, KGH – or for that matter the health-workers of the 20 Trusts in the south-west who have formed a cartel to strip away essential pay and conditions from their employees, has nothing to do with them being in my ‘back yard’.

No – I made them because sticking up for the NHS, for its hard-working staff and for the patients it cares for, is the right thing to do. I made them because my own research and that of others shows clearly that this government wants to dismantle it for reasons of ideology and greed that have nothing to do with necessity or what’s best for patients. I made them because the NHS is vital to the ordinary people of this country who can’t afford private healthcare (and the exclusions enforced by private health insurers make the policies next to useless anyway), so defending it is a moral imperative. And I made them because the NHS is this country’s greatest achievement – one which small-minded, venal men and women want to dismantle because they place their own wealth and profit before the welfare of millions.

That said, even if you’re a person motivated solely by self-interest, unless you’re extremely rich you still should be defending the NHS. The current wave of attacks may not be happening to a hospital in your back yard – but if the government and its private healthcare backers are allowed to get away with it now, sooner or later your nearest hospital is going to become a target.

So, if you’re a HIMBY, a NIMBY or just someone who’s unwilling to be fooled and robbed by those who are meant to be protecting the people of this country, you should be defending the NHS against what this government and its sympathisers/supporters are doing.

The fact that Mr F-D thinks otherwise tells you all you need to know, really. Well, that and the fact that he chose to ridicule supposed HIMBYism when the main thrust of my post was that health minister Daniel Poulter was prepared to lie to one of his own MPs – yet Mr F-D had nothing to say about that at all..


  1. Hi Steve.
    Where to start? First of all, I am sorry if you thought I meant you should get MRSA. It was indeed an attempt at humour. It was the politicians you reported (of all Parties) who were being, in my view, silly HIMBYs, by which I mean campaigning to preserve services at their local hospital even if that might reduce quality across the wider region. There are lots of people in the NHS and health policy who support the view that hospitals need to change to meet changes in medical care, including treating strokes, some heart attacks and major trauma at specialist centres as well as improving primary and community care. So I don’t think we should defend every local service. I think there is a good clinical and economic case for planned hospital reconfiguration in many areas. I don’t know about this one, but it looks like politicians are pledging to preserve existing services even if that’s bad for patients, which I think is irresponsible.

    I am not in favour of breaking up, marketising, privatising or cutting the NHS, which is why I worked for the Shadow Health team (not in Government, nor under Blair) to oppose the coalition’s reforms. I worked pretty hard in fact. But I’m not working there any more.

    Finally if you have a problem with me having a double-barreled surname then that’s pretty lame. Don’t you have anything better to do? Maybe concentrate on more accurate research, and focusing on the right targets.

    Best wishes and good luck,

    1. Well, I appreciate you taking the time to comment, Joe. I don’t think my comments are at all inaccurate or poorly-researched. All I had to go on was a tweet – one in which you linked a post I’d written and associated with HIMBYism.

      I don’t think we necessarily should keep every single hospital open – but I absolutely believe in the right of local people to fight for their hospital if they believe they’ll be worse off if it closes, and in the duty of MPs of any party to advocate for their constituents. That appears to be what Mr Hollobone – an MP of a party I despise – was doing. Credit where it’s due.

      The double-barrelled thing is neither here nor there to me – it was a little ‘tit for tat’ based on what appeared to be an unfounded slur on me and my article.

      If we’re on the same page about the current ‘reforms’, fine. But please be a little more careful about what you tweet and how you link.

      And since credit should go where it’s due, thanks again for responding in person.

    2. Oh, and based on your comments I’ve removed the ‘Blairite’ reference from the title. I had heard you referred to as one on the basis of you working for John Healey, which is why I included it.

      1. You did say I was an adviser at DH. And JH is a Brownite, Balls supporter so working for him doesn’t make me Blairite.
        Point taken about tweet etiquette, I’ll delete my original tweet if it offended – might have saved time if you’d tweeted me in the first place.
        I’ve looked at some other posts and you do have a habit of targeting individuals, including people I have worked with, and making conspiratorial judgements about their motivations and beliefs. There is plenty of substance to write about, if I were you I would focus on getting the ball, not the man.

      2. The only individual I can think of that I’ve commented on and you’re likely to have worked with is David Amos.

        I assess people – and write about them, if I write about them – based on what I see them doing. David Amos might be a perfectly personable man – but he opted to sign up to help a cartel of NHS Trust boards take away money and terms from health workers. There are some balls you can’t play without taking the man as well, and he seems very welded to that one. If his employers would answer FOI requests instead of dodging them, I’d be able to see more about what he’s done and have a clearer picture. But he’s been all too willing to get on board with their aims from what I can see.

        If you mean someone else and not him – since you say ‘people’ you’ve worked with, you’ll have to let me know whom else you mean. I almost always write – when it’s negative – about government politicians whose words and actions merit condemnation in my opinion, and they have too much collusion from the mainstream media not to go for their jugular. In that case, they ARE the ball, since they’re the instigators and executioners of their policies.

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