This large and complex ship is steaming at maximum knots. It is crammed to the gun-whales with passengers. On the bridge and down in the engine room there are the GPs, specialists, nurses and all the important others keeping the ship on course and the screws turning.
'Sparks' the radio officer is doing his best to keep up with the stream of often contradictory messages coming over the short wave from the owners' offices.
Hunt, Dr Poulter, Nicholson, Keogh, Hakin et al are barking out the orders across the ether. The deck hands are shifting the deck chairs furiously as directed from the Westminster head office whilst the band plays on, and on.
There is dense fog and there are icebergs about. Should the officers of the watch go to 'slow ahead' and change course? If the course and speed are held, disaster is sure. If the SS NHS sinks, it will be sunk for ever. It will never be re-floated.
So let the head office pipe down. Let these people think deeply before they demand yet more 'change' to add to the lowered morale and the confusion on board.
And have quiet on board so that everyone from those key GPsto the porters can apply their knowledge and their skills to this fine ship. Every man jack is to know his task and to stay at his station.
That way, SS NHS will continue to steam safely ahead. As she comes into port, with flags streaming, we will cheer in our pride for a fine ship and as fine a crew.
Encourage the workers. Let them get on with it, without damnable interference.
David Halpin FRCS
First published in the Western Morning News 27-03-14.