Friday 30 January 2015

Those despicable foreigners

Recently I had to pay a visit to the hospital. As is the norm, I eventually ended up sat in a small area of chairs, placed round three walls. I was surrounded by other patients who were waiting like myself. By way of entertainment, there was a television fitted on the chair-less wall, but the sound was turned off and the subtitles were turned on. No one was showing the slightest bit of interest. It was one of those 24 hour news stations, which also had the ticker tape running along the bottom of the screen - full of small text snippets of news - Snippets that we might have called sound bytes had the audio been turned on. 

However, my attention was taken by a couple of couples, that might have been described as being of a certain age. They were deep in conversation about immigration. Many of the usual prejudices of people born in and around the second world war were on display. You know little quotes like - 'There coming over here in droves and pinching our jobs.' As you might expect there were also the usual claims - that started with the influx of people of Caribbean ethnicity way back in the 50's and 60's. Claims like 'Their all coming over here and living on our benefits, the bloody scroungers.' And as it was a hospital appointment even 'Health tourism was highlighted as another way that the foreigners were exploiting the NHS'.

Shortly afterwards we were called in - each in our turn to see the specialist. The Nurse who was organising the steady flow of patients, was also checking our weight and blood pressure and updating our records. She was a very attractive young lady of eastern European origin. With an excellent command of English. When it was my turn, I was ushered in through the door. I was met by a consultant and a junior doctor. One of Asian ethnicity and one of eastern European ethnicity. We talked about my health history and a solution to my issue was agreed. But only after everything was explained to me in great detail so that I could make an informed choice. Two very well educated and trained people from a different part of the world.

I returned outside into the waiting area - In that typically British way, everyone had returned to the same exact chairs. The conversation continued and covering the same sort of issues. With the same sort of outrageous claims being made. 

One by one people were given further appointments and went on their way. Soon I was the only one left and a conversation between me and the nurse ensued. She told me a bit of her life story, how she had started out in nursing in her homeland. I asked about the conversation which had gone on in complete oblivion to her presence. She said, I'm used to it, it doesn't bother me at all. I sort of apologised on their behalf. It was then that I discovered that the nurse was actually attending my old University to complete her studies. In a few months time she will graduate, I asked if any of her family would be attending her graduation. She said that no one could come as it was far too expensive. So I said, I will come along instead and take a few pictures of her big day that she could send back home.
I was left with one thought in mind, as I walked to my car after my time at the hospital - I did not speak to a single person that for want of a better description we might call British. In fact I was much more likely to have been taken care of by someone from abroad. Than to be sat next to one of those despicable foreigners free loading off the NHS. We still have a long way to go with the older generation.

Continued tomorrow.

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