Thank you NHS

Nearly all of us who live in the UK are glad that we have a National Health Service. But let’s be rational about how we show that support.
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We all appreciate the great value for money that it brings despite the neglect of recent governments. We can see how the model used in other countries causes so much anxiety and is so unfair to everyone. In the USA, if you lose your job, you most likely lose your health insurance. If you fall ill while unemployed, you may not get treatment at all, or it could bankrupt you. I think everyone in the UK and most developed countries appreciated how much better, fairer, compassionate and efficient a taxpayer-funded health system is.

And we all want to show our support to the NHS and other key workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. The question is how best so show that support.

Now, clapping for the NHS is all very well and good. I’m sure it looks good on TV, and there’s a certain amount of social pressure to do so. I do wonder if it is being hijacked as a jingoistic way to distract people from all the under-funding and mismanagement that has gone on for years. Apart from that distraction factor, it doesn’t seem to do any harm and it doesn’t cost anything.

However, there have recently been quite a few stories in the media about these road signs being painted saying “Thank you NHS”…

There are stories in the Manchester Evening News, South Wales Argus, Coventry Telegraph, among many others.

“So… what’s wrong with that?” you may ask.

Firstly, it seems a misapplication of resources. Whilst I’m sure it may “put a smile” in the face of NHS workers, I suspect those workers might prefer other “signs of appreciation,” such as appropriate PPE (masks, gowns), better funding, better pay, better working conditions etc. Now nothing in the story indicates that this was paid for by the council, but someone had to pay for or donate the paint, worker’s time etc. Why aren’t those resources being deployed where they are sorely needed, instead of paint on the road? How about doing a blood donation drive, or a collection for the NHS for example?

Secondly, non-standard road signs need to be approved by Department for Transport. They have an Authorised signs list. I searched, and I couldn’t find an authorisation for this type of sign. Which leads me to my next point, because you may be thinking I’m just being an awful pedant on this, but…

Paint on the road is less grippy than the normal road surface. Specially when it is wet. At the best of times, white paint on the approach to a bend is to be avoided by motorcyclists as it reduces our ability to brake and steer.

Now, look at the amount of rainbow-coloured paint splashed all over that road, and think: how is increasing the chance of a motorcycle spill going to help the NHS at all?

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