Lying is always wrong. Except when there is a good reason for it. So, it's not always wrong.
When is a lie not a lie?
Is the omission of truth a lie? Sparing someone's feelings or to avoid a confrontation. It's not black and white. Except when it is.
Leaving out a fact might amount to a lie. White lies. Big fat, wriggling black lies. Is every lie a sin? Is there such a thing as an altruistic lie? A benevolent lie?
The solution is to be found by asking; 'What was in the mind of the person when they told their lie?' Speak their 'truth' which turns out to be a lie. Was it always a lie? If they believe it to be true, is it a lie?
When The Maymite says the NHS is better prepared for this winter than ever before, yet we all see the NHS choc-a-bloc, is she right? Or, is it a lie?
No, it's the truth.
The emergency planning group started their work last summer. To reassure themselves they'd done the best job they could, they sent their plans to colleagues and experts in Canada, Australia and some EU countries.
Flu is no respecter of international boundaries. All major health systems were planning for the worst and hoping for the best.
'What do you think?' Asked our planners. 'What have we missed.' The answer came back the plans were about as good and robust as they could be.
Our problem is beds. The number of beds, per head of population, we are 30th in the OECD league tables. We have about 100,000 beds. When they are full, they are full. Primary care is supposed to keep people out of hospital. It hasn't. Social care is supposed to get people home safely and keep them there. It hasn't.
The number of hospitalisations in England has almost tripled in a week, from 2.33 to 6.82 per 100,000 of population. People are dying in corridors.
Cancelling outpatient appointments, to free-up staff and tearing up elective lists, to free up beds, are tough decisions reserved for extremis. Implications for people, families, resources and politics.
The Maymite is right, it is a meticulous plan. More thought through and developed than anyone can remember. So what... the plan and the truth hasn't helped. The public will tell her; we don't want a plan we want a bed. No one believes her.
What about The Maymite telling us the NHS has had more money than at any time in it's history. Is that a porkie? Trusts are in debt. Some struggling to pay their suppliers, hire staff, balance the books.
It's not a lie. It's true but it redefines the truth. It confuses more money with enough money.
Every year, pretty much , since 1948, the NHS had increases in funding in line with demand. The figure is just under 4%. Money shadowing the graph of demand.
This all stopped in 2010. The year the coalition government was coming to grips with the upshot of the world banking crisis. Demand has continued to grow at an inexorable 4% but resources, between 2010-20... around 1.2% a year. Effectively plateaued.
Yes, in total, more money than it has ever had. In truth, nowhere near enough to cope with demand.
A fact is always a fact but if it is used to leverage deception, does it become a lie. We are training more doctors and nurses. Yes, but they take years to become ward-ready, to pretend otherwise is... well, not true.
Put the statements together, we have the best plan ever and more money, staff in training, than ever and what do you get? A puzzled public. A hostile press anxious to blame somebody but they are not sure who. Defensive Tory back benchers trotting out tosh from their Central Office crib-sheet and an incandescent workforce.
What have we got? Dissembling, camouflage, double speak, duck and dive, falsification, fake news, white-wash, smoke-screen, subterfuge, hyperbole, fiction, deception, invention, myth.
We have everything but the truth.
Have a good weekend.
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