“Clap for the NHS?” Maybe this would be a better approach?

April 23, 2020

by Martin Odoni

I recognise that the new weekly ‘lockdown-tradition’ of standing on our doorsteps every Thursday evening, and giving a hearty round-of-applause to our front-line emergency services comes from the best of impulses. It in no way does any harm, it causes no irritation, and I have little objection to it, in and of itself.

However, it is becoming very difficult to ignore the empty futility of it. While emergency workers are doubtless aware at least that it is happening, they are very, very unlikely to hear about 99% of the population making the gesture.

Clap for NHS?

Do people really think this is achieving very much?

Even if they could, would it really help those on the front line all that much? In the current pandemic crisis, what, say, NHS staff are looking for in considerable quantities is not critical acclaim. What they want is Personal Protective Equipment of sufficient quality to give them a fighting chance of treating CoVid-19 patients without becoming infected themselves. What they need more broadly is for hospitals to be adequately resourced to fight the pandemic.

Knowing they are being applauded is probably good for front-line workers’ morale, but it will not provide even one pair of rubber gloves or one face-mask. The applause is very much a gesture dreamt up with the heart, and not with the head.

More darkly, a fair number of the people making a big show of their Thursday night applause performance are the very same people who offered nothing but cynicism during, just for instance, the Junior Doctors Strike. This is just one of many reasons why the sudden concerns expressed by Jeremy Hunt, the former Health Secretary who tortured the NHS to the brink of death’s door for years, are absolutely nauseating.

This is a genuine argument against clapping; it offers a very cheap, easy path to a self-laundered moral public illusion to people who previously ignored the devastation of the Health Service.

So last Thursday, at 8pm, I decided that instead of stepping onto my tiny balcony and applauding into the void, I would do something a bit more practical. I nipped onto the NHS Charities Together‘s donations website for their CoVid-19 appeal. I made a donation of £30, and made sure to tick the Gift Aid box.

And you know what? I will do the same again this evening. Maybe any readers who have a little cash to spare could do similar? I realise that not everyone will have any money available, in which case, the page has an option available for donating items. Or maybe you want to donate to a different front-line service, like care homes – try here. Or use a search engine.

I just think that this approach would do more practical good. Yes, I realise it is distasteful that Virgin is providing the NHS Charities platform, given Richard Branson’s utterly slimy recent behaviour, but I would argue that it is worth an unclean moment if it helps save even one life.

And hey, if you enjoy doing the round-of-applause thing and still want to do it, no problem, there is nothing to stop you from doing both.

4 Responses to ““Clap for the NHS?” Maybe this would be a better approach?”

  1. 4foxandhare Says:

    You might believe it to be a futile gesture but the NHS Nurses have shown their appreciation by clapping us for clapping them.

    Your suggestion that we make a donation is good and I will do so.

    • Martin Odoni Says:

      Well, I did mention it’s probably good for their morale, but being adequately equipped would be even better for morale.

      And as mentioned on Panorama this week, some nurses are worried that the practice simply distracts from the shortages, and calling medical staff ‘heroes’ “simply makes it seem okay when they die.”

      I’m not having a go at people when they do this, but in the cold light of day, I don’t see it achieving very much.

  2. smithches Says:

    Hi Martin,Are you ok.Haven’t seen anything from you for a while.Hope the cv 19 hasn’t returned and affected you. Regards, Tom Smith

    On Thu, 23 Apr 2020 at 13:22, TheCritique Archives wrote:

    > Martin Odoni posted: “by Martin Odoni I recognise that the new weekly > ‘lockdown-tradition’ of standing on our doorsteps every Thursday evening, > and giving a hearty round-of-applause to our front-line emergency services > comes from the best of impulses. It in no way does any har” >

    • Martin Odoni Says:

      Hi. Sorry, been away from WordPress for weeks. Yes, I’m fine thanks, I appreciate your concern, I’ve just been caught up in the end-of-year rush in my University course. I’m more or less fully recovered from the CoVid-19 fever now. Hard to believe it was three months ago, near enough. Once I get the muse back, I shall resume blogging.

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