In Scotland, there’s a bit of a smart thing going on.
During the referendum Scotland started questioning everything, trying to figure out, from scratch What’s Important For A (Reborn) Country. And even though, in the end, Scots opted to stay in the UK, the country had got the hang of the idea of interrogating the assumptions of the powerful.
This year, the Scottish Government completed a new hospital in Glasgow, the biggest in the country. The entire £842m cost was financed by the Scottish taxpayer, built on time, and without some lame brain PFI malarky. Glasgow, and Scotland is proud of it.
Then a rich old aristocratic woman shows up, who is doesn’t use the NHS, who sits on her arse eating swans in palace 345 miles from Glasgow… she stays for about 45 minutes, says nothing of interest, then pisses off and…..they Name The NHS Hospital After Her.
Glasgow has an appalling health record, mostly as a result of poverty and vast inequality. But now, as the stricken from Drumchapel, Castlemilk and Govan gasp for help, they will be obliged to say take me to….The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.
It’s like a sick joke. But, as airport bombers found out, Glasgow likes to put up a fight.
About a mile from the hospital, is Sunny Govan Community Radio, and one if its broadcasters, John Beattie – who worked in the NHS for 10 years – felt annoyed enough to started a petition saying that “we the people oppose the new South Glasgow University Hospital being named after a monarch“, hoping for a few thousand signatures.
So far, over 13,500 people have signed the petition. ( please sign here)
Purple faced and pathetic, NHS Glasgow Glasgow Health board hit back, claiming it was ‘an honour’ for staff & patients to meet the queen and have the hospital named after her.
Lets ask the staff then….. A senior Dr Keith McKillop wrote to the Glasgow Herald saying….
“Queen Elizabeth is the most potent symbol of the glaring inequalities in our society, a vivid representation of the growing gulf between rich and poor. The name of the new hospital is not unimportant. One of my other bits of paper is an honours degree in theology, so I’m qualified to know that symbols carry meaning, power and influence. I am reluctantly obliged to reinforce the illusion that our hospital, and therefore our health, is the charitable gift of a benevolent monarch to her less fortunate subjects.”
Dr McKillop goes on to say that the general feeling amongst staff is far from being ‘honoured’ they are either indifferent or object to the name.
Contrary to recieved wisdom, some Doctors can write very clearly…he goes on…
“The association of royalty with healing is a medieval superstition with no place in the 21st century NHS. How can I realistically encourage the people of Glasgow to take responsibility for their health and wellbeing, for self-improvement, when the renamed hospital perpetuates the ideal of an inflexible social order? It suggests they should take life as it comes and accept their subsidiary position. It quite literally subjugates its patients.”
Bravo Dr McKillop !
So who made this crass offensive decision ?
Such was the controversy that Andrew Robertson ( OBE ! Ha ! ), the chairman of Greater Glasgow Health Board wrote to the Glasgow Herald, “explaining” that they couldn’t consider a range of different names for the hospital as it would result in disappointment for those who’s preferred names weren’t chosen (this is establishment patronising speak for It’ll End In Tears…).
He claimed that Senior staff and senior nurses ‘considered’ the royal name ( and, it is implied, approved). But when the Herald made a request to see the minutes of the meetings, it turns out they didn’t exist.
Inviting this uneducated privately treated woman to Daimler up to Scotland to name the hospital after herself cost over £100,000 ( this was only revealed after a Wings Over Scotland submitted a FoI request).
It looks unlikely that the hospital will be renamed. Naming a hospital after a royal is a risible idea, and I hope members of the Scottish government are squirming with embarrassment,
But at least Glasgow didn’t roll over and fawn. And that’s a start.
( despite the fact that -for once – this IS an interesting royal news story, it got very little attention, so please share on Facebook and Twitter and spray on the walls of royal palaces. Ta.)
UPDATE: 12 November 2015 – having gathered over 16,000 names, the petition is now closed.