A Tory MP just took insensitive to a whole new level

John Redwood tweeted about the NHS
Steve Topple

This article, including the headline, was updated on 30 November at 11am to remove the term ‘tone-deaf’ from the piece and replace it with “insensitive”.

A tweet by a Conservative MP seemed rather insensitive. Because the seeming ignorance he displayed in just a few characters was quite something to behold – even by Tory standards. But delving deeper, was he actually using the NHS and its staff to make a political point against his own government?

‘Doing a Redwood’

Veteran MP John Redwood is clearly not happy with his government’s approach to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Because he tweeted that:

Why not open and staff all the Nightingale hospital capacity they need… and get the rest of the NHS back to full capacity for everything else?

To be fair to Redwood, it’s a good point. For example, BBC News reported that Tory MP Laura Trott said in Kent:

Darent Valley Hospital, near Dartford, was full, but “trying to add additional beds”, and the Tunbridge Wells Hospital, in Pembury, was at 90% capacity.

She revealed that the NHS in Medway and Swale was deploying full “‘business continuity measures’, which basically means they have declared a major incident and can no longer accept new cases”.

She said in Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells five of the 20 operating theatres had closed so staff could be redeployed to wards.

But other Tory MPs don’t believe that the NHS has been facing a capacity crisis. And they’re openly rowing with their own government about it.

A row in government

Redwood’s comment comes amid a growing row in the government. Cabinet office minister Michael Gove wrote an article in the Times. The Guardian reported that he said the government had decided to do a second lockdown because of fears for the NHS. Gove said that this was because the NHS could have been in a situation where “every bed, every ward” was occupied. This included Nightingale hospitals. The Guardian said that some anti-lockdown Tory MPs were saying Gove’s claims were ‘exaggerated’.

But as it also noted, only two of the seven Nightingale hospitals had started taking patients. So, it seems that Redwood may have been responding to Gove’s column. But there was one major problem with his tweet.

‘Hiding medical professionals’?

Despite what Redwood said, the NHS may well not have the staff to open all the Nightingale hospitals. The Guardian said that health minister Nadine Dorries told a group of Tory MPs that:

it was proving difficult to find the staff to run them. A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care denied she had used those words

But you don’t need to be the health minister to know the NHS is short-staffed, as people on Twitter reacted angrily to Redwood’s tweet:

Thinktank the King’s Fund said that:

NHS hospitals, mental health services and community providers are now reporting a shortage of nearly 84,000 FTE [full time equivalent] staff, severely affecting key groups such as nurses, midwives and health visitors. General practice is also under strain with a shortage of 2,500 FTE GPs; projections suggest this gap could increase to 7,000 within five years if current trends continue

Just where the staff needed to open all the Nightingale hospitals will come from is anyone’s guess. But was Redwood showing ignorance with his tweet? Probably not. Because on 7 November, he wrote an anti-lockdown diatribe on his website. It listed the reasons why the government shouldn’t have put restrictions in place.

So, it seems Redwood’s comment is less insensitive and more stirring rebellion in the government’s ranks. But either way, his tweet shows the NHS and its staff are really of no concern to him. And given that he advocates private companies running NHS services, we shouldn’t be surprised.

Featured image via Wikimedia – Chris McAndrew

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  • Show Comments
    1. Labour & Tories have underfunded the NHS & when ICU beds are closed you know it’s biting & then staff numbers fall but politicians don’t care because they use the private sector where they have shares. The 2016 Exercise Cygnus reported how a pandemic would effect UKania but it was so bad May binned it, but they all knew. CV19 arrived to a destroyed NHS & social care & the Eton Spiv panicked & ordered Nightingale Hospitals. Why is anyone’s guess because there was no staff to put in them. £billions have been squandered on sticking plasters for a wound that cannot be covered. The NHS is dead. Post CV19 it will be insurance health care or you don’t get any……… be warned ! Vote Tory for a fast descent to bottom of the sewer.

      1. I was going to rant for about 20 mins but terryindorset has already said exactly what I think without the ranting ! So the only thing I can think of to add is … Redwood = KNOB

        Sorry but that’s the only way to describe this pathetic little man.

    2. Redwood used to claim that his nickname in the Commons was “Spock”; actually, he was really called “The Romulan”, because, as the Romulans fly around the galaxy in invisible “cloaked” starships, only becoming visible in order to attack, so Redwood likes to sneak up on people before attacking them; also, Redwood’s disdain for child welfare is like the Romulan practice of leaving their newborns out on a cold slab overnight to see if they are robust enough to be worth keeping alive.

    3. Redwood hurt some people’s feels. Aww diddums. Get a grip, the NHS is obese and inefficient as is inevitable for a nationalised organisation with over a million employees. British Rail in a nurses uniform. Believe it or not, it’s not unlawful to criticise the NHS or believe that parts of it would benefit from private sector management.

      1. DRS = Redwood = knob. How can an organisation be ‘obese’ when it’s had 75% of its beds removed over the last 50 years. It is somewhat bloated with all off the clerical staff employed since Thatcher destroyed the UK’s manufacturing base. The middle-class clericals had to be found something. And for the promoters of private health-care it also bloated the NHS; budet requirements year on year. As DorsetTessa made clear the policy was continued and added to by the Blair Babies so that we now rent NHS hospitals and schools. You can try and nudge all you like toy soldier but don’t expect any support from those higher up in your chain of command – you are an expendable asset. Just as it is NOT unlawful to criticise the NHS, it is NOT anti-semetic to criticise the state of Israel. A lack of critical thinking sums up the mentality of your theorising.

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