This Week in Demolition Finger on the pulse

For those that are unaware, I have only just returned to work having spent 12 days in hospital. For 51 years – with the notable exception of a tonsillectomy aged 18 – I have managed to avoid the inside of hospitals for all but the birth of my children and the sickness of others. But through a combination of a burst appendix, peritonitis, the removal of said imploded appendix, a demolition accident and (most recently) an infection in the just-removed appendix, I have amassed in 2016 something like two months either in hospital or recuperating thereafter. 2017 really cannot come soon enough.

But if there are any positives to be drawn from staring at a blank ceiling whilst awaiting the next round of painkillers or antibiotics, it is the time to think and to watch.

Like most Britons, I am fiercely defensive of the National Health Service. I firmly believe that it remains one of the few things that still puts the Great in Great Britain. But when you see it as closely and as frequently as I have this past year or so, it is very easy to see the cracks in the façade of altruism and selfless care.

One morning, a guy of roughly my age attempted to attract the attention of one of the medical professionals stood close to his bed. “Nurse,” he called. Said medical professional responded with a terse “I am not a nurse, I am a junior doctor” and turned on her heels as if the man had hurled some unspeakable insult or slur in her direction.

On another occasion, an elderly gentleman knocked to the ground the bottle of hand sanitiser that is attached to the foot of each and every bed as scant protection against the spread of MRSA. The bottle landed at the feet of the ward sister who assured the man “don’t worry. I will get someone to pick it up.” Apparently, bending down is not in a ward sister’s job description.

There were countless other examples of this “it’s not my job” attitude made worse by a management structure that was less ladder and more mille-feuille; thousands upon thousands of individual layers with each bound not to step into the zone of another.

How different to the world of demolition. For although everyone on site has a prescribed job and each job is governed by specific training and enforced by an increasingly onerous and intrusive card scheme, we don’t do pigeonholes. If there’s a bit of scrap lying about that might cause injury, anyone from a site operative to the managing director will pick it up and put it where it belongs. During intense overnight possessions, it is not unusual to see a senior director wielding a broom or fetching the tea and coffee for the crew.

I am immensely proud that my country had the foresight to create a system to provide free healthcare for all its citizens, not just a privileged few. I am enormously proud of the doctors, nurses and other medical professionals that work ridiculous hours for pitiful rates of pay to care for often thankless others.

But I am rather more proud of the demolition industry in which petty empire-building and overly-strict adherence to prescribed job descriptions are not allowed to stand in the way of getting the job done.

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.