It’s the NHS itself which is the problem, see?

Military personnel have criticised the NHS for its “appalling” handling of distributing personal protective equipment. The armed forces are helping with the distribution of equipment and staff have been seconded to help planning across seven hubs.

A senior army source lambasted the health service for its logistics for PPE, alleging that masks, aprons, gloves and other items were being assigned to hospitals without regard to relative need, leading to oversupply in some areas and shortages in others.

Those with any experience of military life would not argue that it’s the most efficient of organisations. And if they think the NHS is shit then….

No, really, the people who bought two aircraft carriers without any planes think the NHS’s logistics are shit…..

35 thoughts on “It’s the NHS itself which is the problem, see?”

  1. Bloke in North Dorset

    Don’t conflate the MOD and military, the MOD makes a big effort to distance itself from the military.

    If the military is good at one thing, it’s logistics.

  2. Those aircraft carriers weren’t bought to fly planes off, they were only commissioned to buy the one-eyed Scotch fuckwit’s votes in Jockistan.

  3. The NHS is shit. Most of the public sector is sub-par, but the NHS is the worst. I suspect it’s because the nurses generally do a good job, and act as a shield for the lazy, useless bureaucrats behind them.

    If only the nurses realised how easier their lives would be if they had good management.

  4. Isn’t the military just a big logistics operation?

    Get people and tools to a location, and all the supporting equipment that entails and requires, to move some bullets/bombs to where they need to be (usually in the opposing soldiers or nearby for supression). And they have to do this logistical dance more efficiently/effectively/en masse than the opposing logistical force.

    The whole exercise is logistics.

    The NHS, on the other hand, is just run to give the people who “work” in it a place to go and some pocket money.

  5. Off topic

    Anyone wanting to see a Green circle jerk video (Rocco?), running to over 2 hours, can go here. Richard Murphy’s participation starts from 20.25 mins. Happily, comments seem to be allowed, so Nazi death camp commandants may wish to fill their boots.

    The Economics of a Green Recovery

    https://vimeo.com/410230590

  6. Always good to give government incompetence a kicking, but despite being the prevailing narrative from hordes of ignorant ‘journalists’, its not always. This is not true: “No, really, the people who bought two aircraft carriers without any planes…”

    There were/are two complementary procurements of complex systems, F-35 aircraft and HMS Queen Elizabeth Class ships, and they were both happening together over years. The first F-35* operated from HMS QE only 9 months after she was commissioned in December 2017. That’s to be expected – you’re not going to do complex aircraft operations until you have first shaken down the rest of the ship, its crew and systems, and that takes a bit of time.

    It’s a great meme that there are hordes of people who believe “We bought carriers without aircraft” – it’s a great meme in the Richard Dawkins sense because it self-replicates, travels far and wide and so many people believe it.

    It’s not such a great meme for people who think facts are important.

    *Somebody is going to come back and say “Ah, but the first aircraft weren’t ours – they had US insignia on the side”. Those are the trials aircraft, rammed full of engineering instrumentation and operated by the Joint Test Force. It’s “joint” because it’s full of Brits as well as Americans – you don’t duplicate expensive test assets, what with that being silly ‘n’ all.

  7. @ BoM4 – “If only the nurses realised how easier their lives would be if they had good management”

    I read the other day (can’t recall where) that in one hospital most of the management had “bunked off” / gone sick / self isolated, etc and a few junior nurses had stepped into their place. Apparently these nurses were able to achieve in hours what previously took weeks, or months…

  8. “I read the other day (can’t recall where) that in one hospital most of the management had “bunked off” / gone sick / self isolated, etc and a few junior nurses had stepped into their place. Apparently these nurses were able to achieve in hours what previously took weeks, or months…”

    Perhaps Dave, but could one be confident that the nurses’ processes met eg diversity and inclusion criteria?

  9. Andrew C – worse than that.

    If you have the stamina to listen for only a few mins, that is all it takes for Murphy to volunteer, gratuitously, that he is at the moment a professor at 3 universities, in different subjects.

  10. Rev. Spooner,

    I was aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth for a few weeks last year (Norfolk VA to Portsmouth). On a purely visceral level, she’s a remarkable ship: 75% of the capability of the big US supercarriers for a quarter of the purchase price and running costs. (And, moored on Pier 14 between the USS Eisenhower and the USS Stennis, she didn’t look out of place at all – a quarter-million tons of seapower in one place was quite a sight)

    One issue oft overlooked is that while the F-35B is an awesome aircraft (there’s a huge amount of rubbish talked about it, but it’s a step change upwards in capability) it’s also a complex beast – far more so than Harrier.

    We’re basically doing the equivalent of the middle-aged motorcyclist who rode a 125cc two-stroke bike in his teens, took a break, then bought himself a Fireblade (0 to casualty in 2.6 seconds…). Learning to ride a serious sports bike safely isn’t trivial, and it’s a different set of issues for servicing and maintenance.

    Building up the capability to conduct sustained air operations with an air wing of F-35Bs will take time, and the complexity of getting the mission planning and logistics systems working from a carrier are significant issues (and we’re paralleling with the US on that) which are usually overlooked.

  11. @JasonLynch, thanks for the wise words. It’s a while since I have sailed Grey Funnel Lines, and wish I could have been on board with you. Fortunately the UK is even better placed to do that than even you and I know – given that in UK journalism we have at least as many experts in modern sea power as we do World class epidemiologists.

  12. Dave Ward,

    “I read the other day (can’t recall where) that in one hospital most of the management had “bunked off” / gone sick / self isolated, etc and a few junior nurses had stepped into their place. Apparently these nurses were able to achieve in hours what previously took weeks, or months…”

    The conclusion I reached working with a district nurse service is that you put the highest ranked district nurse in charge of the local service and she runs the budget, hires the people, buys the services. Those people had a pretty good grasp of the tools that would help them (like at the time, sat navs in their cars, good software to manage scheduling) and the bureaucrats got in the way, slowed it up.

  13. There’s something interesting may come out of this. The NHS has almost a religious significance in the UK because it operates in somewhat of a vacuum. It never gets compared against anything else, apart from the assumed faults of the US health insurance industry. Now its performance can be measured against that of its European neighbours who’ve all faced similar or worse challenges. And this time it doesn’t get to hide behind the presumed sainthood awarded to its front line medical staff. The Europeans haven’t been short on dedication & bravery under pressure.
    Of course, someone has to write the story, don’t they? Not going to be the Guardian, is it? But someone ought to.

  14. ” Fortunately the UK is even better placed to do that than even you and I know – given that in UK journalism we have at least as many experts in modern sea power as we do World class epidemiologists.”

    Rev., I can’t help but read a little sarcasm into that.

  15. Rhoda, you have looked into my soul and found me wanting. I have begged for forgiveness from Our Saviour*.

    *Who art not in Ely.

  16. There is, or was, a department of the Ministry of Defence which constantly plans for Military Aid to Civil Ministries (as well as to Civil Communities and the Civil Power). During my time there, it had a fantastic reputation for the results it provided, the organisation of logisitics and staff being it’s strength. The main problems came from the political elements on upper floors who saw the bigger picture only so far as it affected their political careers. On occasions, the plans were not fully taken up, or amended, as they showed the political masters in a bad light, and we couldn’t have that.
    If that department is still there, and planning throughout this pandemic, I wish those working in it well.

  17. There’s an excellent series on Netflix in the US that chronicles flight testing of the F35B onto the Queen Elizabeth. One thing of note is that while the test aircraft were US-branded, the test pilots were all FAA.

    Regarding the technology of the F35 vs Harrier, I well-recall getting a close look at an RAF Harrier in the 1970s, this would have been the GR1 model, and marvelling at the fact that the thrust-vectoring nozzles were driven by bicycle chains. This series of aircraft was charitably-described by its pilots as ‘unforgiving’, since the only technology controlling the disposition of the thrust-vectoring nozzles was a Series1, Mark 3 human brain.

    llater,

    llamas

  18. @BiS – you’d hope so but I sincerely doubt it. The UK seems to be in mawkishness overdrive. Any failings of the NHS will be blamed on Them Evil Tories and their refusal to ‘invest’ 100% of GDP in our NHS and all the ‘angles’ who work there.

  19. Anyone who thinks military logistics are any good clearly didn’t cross into Iraq wearing green combats, carrying 20 rounds of ammunition, and wearing body armour with no protective plates in it…

  20. logpuke,

    The military J4 chain was spooling up for Op TELIC and writing up the requirements for what was needed: ammunition, sand filters, CBRN kit, all the items that the politicians said “don’t stockpile lots of lifed consumable items like those, we can easily order them in time for the conflict”.

    And St. Tony of Blair personally prohibited those orders from being placed for several months, because it would have “sent the wrong messages” – so they weren’t available in time for STARTEX.

    I was involved on the dark-blue side and saw the problems caused there, but there were plenty of tales of troops lacking key kit as they crossed the line of departure.

  21. It’s not so much carriers with no planes, but supercarriers with no nuclear engines ( and hence 10,000 miles range), no catapults (so no normal fighters) and no bloody destroyer escorts. Even if they did have escorts, they could only operate in cool waters. Anyone know if the QEs have the same issues with their engine when the water is a bit warm?

  22. @BoM4
    Trust me, being married to a nurse they are well aware of the issues that are caused by bureaucrats and managers. One issue being that the people who get promoted to managers are the political ones who often don’t really like operational nursing and to get on in the organisations is very political.

  23. Ottokring,

    Big carriers with nuclear reactors won’t fit into Devonport or Faslane (where the Z Berths to look after nuclear-powered vessels are). They’re also really expensive to build, run and decommission – even the USN is thinkiRng twice about staying nuclear for carriers. (Oh, and we’re already short of nuclear watchkeepers…)

    No catapults – no dramas, it’s no arrestor wires that’s the big issue. That saves a fortune in training costs and accidents: it’s really difficult and expensive to train pilots to reliably manage arrested landings, and it’s a very perishable skill. Once you allow for practical issues like recovery and divert margins, F-35B off a ski-jump is very competitive with F-35C off cats’n’traps (similar range and payload, higher sortie rate, lower operating cost) – hence why the USMC have opted for that.

    The Russians, Chinese and Indians have gone for the worst of all worlds: conventional aircraft, ski-jump launch (which for those types lacking vectored thrust, means basically no fuel or weapons) and lots of landing accidents – the Chinese are at least only using the Liaoning as a training deck to build up landing skills for when they’ve got catapults working.

    And the Type 45 issues exist but are as usual exaggerated (and Project NAPIER is fixing them). As often happens, you can trace them to a political decision: the RN wanted the widely-used, well-understood LM2500 gas turbines, but were told they had to use the world-beating technology-leading WR21s to buy votes in marginal constituences – I mean, preserve industrial jobs in deprived areas – instead as a way to kickstart export orders. The Secretary of State then showed his confidence in this new technology by cutting all the boring land-based testing out of the programme. After all, “Buff” Hoon would be in a new job by the time Daring goes to the Gulf and any problems discovered, would be for someone else to solve…

  24. I was involved on the dark-blue side and saw the problems caused there, but there were plenty of tales of troops lacking key kit as they crossed the line of departure.

    On the green side, I had seniors cancelling pre-approved purchase orders that were in process of final delivery. Resulting in us having to pay the vendors but never getting the kit. Because we had spotted this coming and had ordered ahead.

  25. Bloke in North Dorset

    Another thought on the logistics issue. Most of the majors and above as well as WOs and a fair proportion of SSgts and Sgts will have had experienced delivering ammo and food in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those that hadn’t will have been trained by those who had and will be under no illusion what their job entails and that task delivery is everything.

    This is what met NHS bureaucracy. I’m surprised it’s taken so long for someone to break this story, or a jobsworth’s nose.

  26. It’s a dull story BiND. It doesn’t involve plucky amateurs risking their lives to help us. That used to be the preserve of Justin Welby. Now it’s the CEO of an NHS Trust. The ones I have known were such arseholes that they could never be fed to the media. It’s the politicos who take the flak for decisions made by people who, after 5 minutes conversation, you decide “this guy is worse than Hitler and not as good”

  27. One thing of note is that while the test aircraft were US-branded, the test pilots were all FAA.

    Pendant of order: At least one test pilot (maybe the lead) was RAF. This being the phase where we pretend the F-35Bs are RAF planes. It’s virtually a dead cert they’ll be transferred to the FAA if and when the RAF gets its F-35As.

    Side pendant: Most of the F-35 customer nations’ first few planes are based in the US for training and development, and these are often pooled. It’s not unusual to have mixed nation pilots and planes.

  28. About 13 years ago, the company I was working for bought some simulators from German armaments manufacturer KMW (Leopard 2 MBT amongst other things) and was having a discussion with one of their technical guys.
    Prior to joining KMW he had been a Luftwaffe pilot, then gone on to work for NATO in the UK on the Eurofighter Typhoon project.
    I asked him about a story I’d seen in Private Eye concerning the machine gun on the Typhoon. It was all true.
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1469300/RAF-gets-a-new-fighter-with-a-gun-it-cannot-fire.html

  29. But engineers found the only way to preserve the aircraft’s aerodynamics was to have something that not only weighed the same as the gun but was also shaped exactly the same.
    To make matters worse, each individual part of the makeweight’s shape also had to weigh exactly the same as the real thing. In short, the cheapest option was to fit the cannon.

    Some fantastic bullshit there, perhaps an attempt by the military to get the gun past the politicians. The Typhoon got its gun.

  30. @Jason Lynch April 22, 2020 at 2:37 pm

    +1 Spot on. Brown & TCH were obstacles too. Not forgetting the NI “Snatch” Landie

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