Have you ever asked yourself what is democracy and does it really exist? To answer this complicated question would require a lot of research and many ‘minds’ but I was recently pondering this issue, trying to compare what democracy means in Russia and the UK and more importantly how it translates into action in real life.
In Russia people elect their deputies (deputaty) into the State Duma, yet as soon as the vast majority of those people enter office, they forget about the people, who elected them into the public (!) office, and their election promises and get on with enjoying the privileges and increasing their wealth and public profile for personal benefit. In the UK, on the other hand, the rules of the game vary significantly. MPs are very concious throughout their time in the office to whom they owe their position and make sure they meet with their constituents and take their responsibilities seriously (not to say that there aren’t people who take advantage, but nowhere close to the level it is common in Russia).
You probably remember my post about Royal Brompton Hospital and their plight in regards to the possibility of closure of their paediatric cardiac services. I e-mailed my local M.P. Glenda Jackson, not really hoping to hear from her, as my e-mail was sent too close to the case being heard in Court. Yet, to my very pleasant surprise, I received a personal letter from her on October 20th, which addressed the issue raised on my behalf with Rt Honorary Simon Burns MP (Minister of State for Health). His position, unfortunately, did nothing to answer my concerns. The Minister was reluctant to engage with the issue raised, so Glenda Jackson M.P. suggested that we await the outcome of the panel’s deliberation.
While I greatly appreciate my MPs involvement in the cause very close to my heart, I don’t understand the position of the Health Minister. In the copy of his reply to Glenda Jackson he states that ‘the Safe and Sustainable review of children’s heart services is being carried out within the NHS by the National Specialised Commissioning Team on behalf of the ten regional groups that commission specialised services, such as children’s heart surgery, across England’. He added that ‘while we are following its progress closely, it is not a Government review so I am not in a position to address your constituent’s concerns.’
Further down this letter there is another big paragraph that I am going to let you read first:
‘The review was instigated as a result of increasing concerns held by surgeons, other clinicians and NHS commissioners over a number of years about the risks posed by the unsustainable nature of having smaller surgical units. The aim of Safe and Sustainable is to ensure that children’s heart surgery services in England deliver the very highest standard of care for children and their families well into the future’. The development of the proposed model of care has been led by many clinicians directly involved in the care and treatment of children with congenital heart disease. This has been very much clinically driven.’
When I read this paragraph, I almost choked on the cynicism of the words. This issue is not only political, it involves funding issues and lots of under the carpet games and favours. I have seen first hand the work going on at the Royal Brompton, on both of their paediatric wards, the intensive care (PICU) and the Rose Ward,where kids go to recuperate after their condition stabilises post surgery/procedure in PICU. Rose Ward provides monitoring, physio, dietary advice, medication review among many other things before a child gets discharged home. To even put the RBH forward for this review is a travesty because they do incredible work and they have always had the highest standard of care being very selective in the process of choosing the people for the team. And I hope that the Minister’s reluctance to engage in such an important issue is going to backfire-we appreciate humanity and true care when it comes to children and the choice to sit on the bench as a casual observer will do nothing for the popularity of the current Cabinet. After all, as the song goes, children are our future and if politics prevail in such matters, we are in for a very gloom future indeed.