Foot and mouth?
By David Jolley High profile advocates for people with dementia and their families are having a difficult time. The heat of scandal associated with complaints about management practices within the Alzheimer’s Society has barely cooled – Now we have Professor June Andrews OBE (for services to people with dementia) FRCN, being pilloried for her comments to a Public Audit Committee of the Scottish Parliament. https://www.thenational.scot/news/18287804.age-scotland-hits-former-top-nurses-barbaric-coronavirus-comments/ https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/03/06/former-scottish-government-official-faces-backlash-arguing-coronavirus/ Video: June Andrews claims coronavirus pandemic would be ‘useful’ for NHS | Daily Mail Online June Andrews followed Mary Marshall to the Chair of Dementia Studies within the Dementia Services Development Service at Stirling University. They are both redoubtable women and have personally and through the DSDC done a great deal to improve understanding and practice in the care of people with dementia, many of whom are old. So what was she doing, saying that the coronavirus might be seen as a blessing by NHS Hospitals if it kills older people who are in hospital, thereby freeing beds for other (more deserving) people? Watching the video – and staying with it beyond the fateful faux-pas – we can see that she was trying to make a point: There are people admitted to general hospitals and required to stay there inappropriately, because our systems are not well set for the needs of the population. We really need to do something about this, to achieve better use of finance and other resources, and for the benefit of people in need – including people with dementia – old and not so old: ’Here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into’. It would be a counsel of despair which decided to ease the flow in the system by culling the most vulnerable – just the people the service exists to serve – But June Andrews knows that such thoughts are sometimes not far below the surface of frustrated, misaligned professionals. We need a redesign with more space and flexibility in the system. No Draconian act of God will provide this. It may be that June Andrews, in opening her mouth unguardedly, has put her foot in it. But let us thank her for putting her finger on a subject which needs a cool appraisal of how we got here, and how we can make progress without too much more suffering through ignorance and pig-headedness.