Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth : Thoreau


Consider these examples:

  • One of my personal students told me that when on placement some staff told their patients that they would do things for them and then never bothered. The student was upset by the fact that staff would systematically and routinely lie to their patients.
  • I did an exam with a group of students, I told them about the assessment criteria and then used something else to work out who passed or failed, ok, I lied but who cares?

The above examples are completely untrue but what would you think about health care staff or University lecturers who routinely lied to people?

Lies: Everyone’s at it?

“It is that truth that guides our action in Libya……………………………………… …………………………………….That is why we stopped a massacre in Libya. And we will not relent until the people of Libya are protected, and the shadow of tyranny is lifted.
(Barack Obama speaking in London’s Westminster Hall)

Is it just me or did the West court Gaddafi for his oil money? Are we now supporting the insurgents so we can now court them for the same?

Then I came back to the NHS. I watched a daughter talking about the death of her mother on the news. Her story reflected the lack of care given to the elderly in the NHS according to the Care Quality Commission report. Yet when we visit websites belonging to these same hospitals we are bombarded with mission statements and philosophies about “putting the patient first”
Is it possible that the public does not need to know the truth? Or is it that we don’t want to? If people in power told us the truth could we handle it? If people in power told the truth could they remain in power?
We live in a world that claims to put transparency above all else but uses smoke and lies to blind us.

What could I say to this student or the daughter? I suppose I’ll just have to say that’s the way things are?

(BBC News 26th May 2011)

3 thoughts on “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth : Thoreau

  1. I am appalled by the direction you seem to be taking. You seem to imply that mis representing the truth can be justified if the need arises and that as perpetrators of this misrepresentation we decide whether the need exists – a bit biaised?
    Telling the truth, the facts of an issue can frequently be hurtful. However, this is not as hurtful as when you are lied to and these lies will linger around you far longer than the hurt caused by truthfulness.
    But I don’t want to appear evangelical. In practice, I found that patients would appreciate the truth however ugly it was, Besides, liars can be spotted at a hundred paces.

  2. Elderly patients dying of thirst: Doctors forced to prescribe drinking water to keep the old alive, reveals devastating report on hospital care
    Last updated at 9:33 AM on 26th May 2011

    Doctors are prescribing drinking water for neglected elderly patients to stop them dying of thirst in hospital.
    The measure – to remind nurses of the most basic necessity – is revealed in a damning report on pensioner care in NHS wards.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1390925/Elderly-patients-dying-thirst-Doctors-forced-prescribe-drinking-water-old-alive-reveals-devastating-report-hospital-care.html#ixzz1NTMfiS6Q

    If true, this newspaper article clearly demonstrates that care of the elderly is failing those for whom we have a duty of care. Whatever happened to good basic nursing standards of care and common sense!? Are we so blinded by new care standards, terminology, targets and ticking boxes that basic life needs are so neglected. As a Nurse working long hours I am used to drinking, eating when the opportunity presents itself however our elderly residents cannot do this for themselves and are reliant on the staff who CARE for them to provide the opportunity for them to meet their basic needs if nothing more! If malnutrition and dehydration is the truth why is there not public outcry and why does the government not see fit to hold a public inquiry?

  3. Hi there,

    I find myself strangely touched by this post – and Tony Barlow’s response above…

    Are we ready for the truth?
    Or are we in a collective denial? Having been seconded to a mental health elderly ward occasionally,I must say, even though it was one of the better ones, I wouldn’t really live out my days there. Can the truth be told or is it to be experienced?
    I agree with Tony that it is paramount to be honest, yet, I also witness that people time and again experience that they get punished for telling the truth…

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