The most disturbing video I have seen is featuring on the Yahoo! homepage today.
Is it a crocodile eating a litter of kittens? Is it a man squeezing a zit? Is it Kim Kardashian’s arse? Another ISIS beheading party? Katie Price’s exploding breast implants?
It is a short narrative, edited from a seven-minute sequence of silent horror taken on a CCTV security camera.
In it, a man approaches the main entrance of a hospital in Birmingham, England’s second biggest city.
He clutches at his chest, and collapses in the street. He is, or was, 47-year-old Mr Carl Cope.
Passers-by pass by. One stops to look, shrugs and moves on. A motorist finds Mr Cope is inconveniently blocking the road, and mounts the kerb to drive around him. A paramedic, Matthew Geary, wanders over from a nearby ambulance park. He bends down and pushes at Mr Cope. Two minutes pass, in which he appears to try to engage Mr Cope in conversation. He wanders off again, then after a few more minutes comes back, and stands with hands in pockets, watching. He is apparently waiting for a security guard to come.
Mr Cope’s left arm flails about a bit, then he is dead.
In all this time, no-one at all has emerged from the hospital entrance. If this had been an episode from ER, Holby City or House, the fictional crash team would have piled out, defibrillator at the ready, purposeful activity, cries of ‘Stand clear!’ and ‘Two cc of adrenalin, nurse’; Mr Cope would have been ‘On three: one, two, three’ stretchered into the cardiac unit, either to be rescued from death’s door by the intrepid consultant, or to pass away with background music, surrounded by caring heroes, snapping off their masks and looking at one another despairingly as if to say, we tried.
But this is the real-life National Health Service, the ‘envy of the world’, where it is seemingly more efficient to watch a man die in the gutter, five yards from the hospital entrance, than to have the hassle of booking him in to A&E and having to chuck an old lady off a gurney and tick a box to say he was seen by the triage nurse within four hours and filling-in the paperwork and failing to get Foundation status with too many people inconveniently dying in casualty, messing up the numbers.
Where a trained paramedic automatically assumes a dying man is drunk.
Mr Geary was yesterday sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment, suspended. My limited understanding is that failing to give medical assistance is not a criminal offence in Britain, although there is a campaign to get it made one. So I am not quite certain what he was charged with: a breach of Health and Safety laws, apparently.
My limited understanding also fails to produce a single reason why the Health Minister, Mr Jeremy Hunt (once memorably misnomered on the Today programme), is not obliged to resign, if this fucking useless shambles is the best he can manage.
And finally my limited understanding despairs of everything, pretty much.
And now I have been given a heart transplant by a joyful story on the news.
A 109 year-old man, Australia’s oldest, has a hobby. He knits colourful little woolly jackets to keep oil-damaged penguins warm.