Wednesday, 19 January 2011

It must be true...

The BBC asked me to comment on this story http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7944334.stm; they wanted my opinion, from the point of view of a front-line paramedic and author, as they did when the Government decided that 24 hour alcohol licensing was the way to break our binge-drinking culture. They were wrong then and they are wrong now I think.

I couldn't go live on television news to give my input, unfortunately, but I will here. The approach currently being taken by successive Governments in order to tackle binge-drinking is stupidly blind and out of touch. The pricing and availability of booze has very little to do with what's going on. Young people are setting off on a night out with the deliberate, pre-meditated intention of getting as drunk as possible. Only a small minority behave like this but they are the ones who are causing the problem. Facebook is full of admissions from young people who have been so drunk that they forget what they did or who they were with... or that they ended up in hospital 'drying out'. It's almost a badge of honour and it's becoming cultural. I said this on air back in 2008 when I was first asked to comment.

So, weak attempts at dealing with this by punishing everyone else (the usual British way) and increasing taxes and pricing on alcohol are futile. They simply won't work.

The big supermarkets are getting knocked constantly for selling cheap, discounted booze but they are in business to do just that with everything they sell! We don't complain when they offer us ten sausages for the price of eight, do we? However, if a brainless proportion of the population were stuffing themselves with so many piggy-filled wraps that they posed a health risk to themselves and a burden of cost to us all, then Hell yes - let's tax the sausages out of everyone's reach and let's impose a minimum price on each on, depending on the fat content. Let's tell the supermarkets how to run their businesses.

We are on the brink of insanity with this. Only one thing is required - good, solid, honest parenting. A return to strict control over children. We know they have rights - just don't keep telling them!


I was delighted to find this little snippet in the news too http://news.aol.co.uk/uk-news/story/man-flu-not-a-myth-say-scientists/1522949?icid=main|uk|dl1|link8|http://news.aol.co.uk/uk-news/story/man-flu-not-a-myth-say-scientists/1522949.  I've been off work unwell recently and got myself into a complicated little scenario by becoming so. I had tried to book annual leave for three days when I knew this was coming (you can always sense a viral attack). I don't generally get ill  but since starting work as a paramedic in London, I have been knocked off my feet a few times now. The stress of the job and the people we come into contact with erodes the immune system. Nevertheless, I still don't get THAT unwell and I rarely get Flu. Viral attacks tend to take me out for a while though.

Anyway, my leave was refused and I staggered into work feeling lousy and 'looking like shit', according to my colleagues. I bravely fought off the urge to slump at the desk until I couldn't concentrate any more, so I was advised to leave the premises and go home. Obviously, having applied for leave and being refused it, I now looked like a prize loser who was going on a 'sickie' instead - something I would never do. Sometimes you just can't win.

I spent a long, long weekend in bed, sleeping mostly and getting through it. Now I am due to go back to work and I still haven't fully shaken the damned thing off! So, I was warmed by that little report on my situation. Obviously, if it's been studied and it's in the news... it must be true.

Be safe.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Working for the LAS, you'll now have a black mark against your record and no doubt a well-meaning DSO has already spoken to you about your absence. No record will be kept that you tried to take annual leave either..

I really like my job (your book was one of my inspirations) but the sickness policy in the LAS stinks. I don't understand why your sickness isn't based on number of days off instead of number of periods off. I've worked many different, varied jobs in my life and never have I had the pressure to come to work sick like we have in the LAS.

And this in an environment where we are dealing with vulnerable patients every day!

Keep up the good writing!

Erzanmine said...

We'll make an exception with this virus and man-flu, Stuart - it has hit us all - men and women - and is the worst non-flu virus ever I think!!

4 weeks and I'm recovering .....

Christine, Dorset

Sippy Cups and Stethoscopes said...

Hello! I just stumbled across your blog and I love it! It's great to know the tom foolery of EMS is pretty consistent regardless of geographic location! I can definitely relate to the calls you describe and the feelings you have about them. Thank you for sharing!

Demetrius said...

My lady has a theory. It is that as so many kids these days grow up drinking a lot of fizzy stuff designed to give a "hit" as they get into teen years it is a seamless transition to fizzy stuff with a heavy whack of alcohol. Whilst any large kids drink will only pack calories and caffeine but alcopops or "cocktails" at 20% to 40% will impact hard and fast. Given the other content it will have a high risk of addiction.

Anonymous said...

I may sound naive but I just don't understand this at all. Why would you take annual leave when you are sick? How can the LAS get away with this policy?

(Disclaimer: I live in Germany, where they actually care about employee's rights and health care)

Xf said...

Anon

If we are unwell more than three times in a certain period (its not the number of days you are ill that count; it's the number of occasions) then you can't apply for many of the promotions or opportunities and you are given a warning.

So, if you take one day off with a stomach bug. Then another in a few months with, say a very bad headache. Then another day in another three or four months with a cold....even though you've only taken three days off sick, you will be exempt from opportunities for a good while and you will receive a formal warning.

So, if I feel I'm going to get ill, I try to get annual leave to avoid this nonsense.

Xf said...

Sippy...

Thank you.... spread the word and bring your colleagues aboard!

Anonymous said...

Hope you are feeling better! What a bad policy to have, it doesn't make sense! In effect, you could have 10 days off all at once and have no mark against your record, but have three individual days off and be black marked for it.

Regarding alcohol........ a litre of cheap booze is now cheaper than a litre of petrol........

Kate, Essex

Anonymous said...

We have the number of periods of sickness too. Ten months ago I was off with flu then a few weeks later atummy bug. No sickness since, none for over a year prior. But still my absence was a concern and I have a poor Bradford factor. Madness.,,
minty