Hans Bromwich (and Digger)
Campaigner for Island health services
Viva Chaos and British Creativity! When I moved to Cowes in 1982 I quickly learned about the Island’s rich heritage in creative innovation. Today, engineers still beaver away at the cutting edge of their specialisms, along with artists and designers who contribute to our creative industries on the world stage.
Geographically the Island seemed to offer something for everyone, ‘Kiss me quick’ seaside locations, working towns, and delightful rolling countryside. What was the secret ingredient that bonded such an eclectic mix? I came to realise there was no magic formula, other than perhaps an element of chaos. Chaos is often maligned, it can be a liberating force that frees us from the shackles of organisational mediocrity, forcing us to rethink imaginatively.
Many of my generation will recall the devastating storm in 1987. Waiting to catch a Fishbourne sailing the following morning I couldn’t help but notice a line of fencing. The concrete posts had all snapped at their bases. What appeared beyond made me stop and reflect. Hedging, similar in height, swayed in the wind, yes, a few leaves were missing, but it had survived the hurricane. This beautiful non-linear structure was clearly far more robust than man’s authoritarian unbending linear offering.
At the time I was reading Chaos, by James Gleick. The pandemic is a perfect example of the ‘butterfly effect’ and Chaos Theory, where Covid-19 has spread exponentially across the world. Many governments, including ours, responded by imposing controls, fences if you like, but did they stop the march of nature?
The British have always found autocratic rules a bit of an anathema. The Sun newspaper captured the national mood back in the 1990s with its headline, ‘Up Yours Delores’, predating Brexit. It’s not that we dislike our European neighbours, far from it, it’s just that we don’t appreciate being told what to do.
The pandemic has led to an explosion of authoritarian diktats as governments grapple with trying to regain control. Our NHS rapidly introduced online eConsultation, along with other linear systems gleaned from industry, to tackle the crisis of lengthy patient waiting lists. Woke warriors scream; patients are not widgets but ‘individuals’, many with complex physical/emotional needs, and questioned whether new practices will provide ‘compassionate’ care.
Over a decade ago the eminent epidemiologist, Sir Michael Marmot, shone a light on health inequality. His research showed life expectancy in Glasgow’s slums was significantly shorter than in other, more affluent parts of the city. Sadly, successive governments ignored Professor Marmot’s findings. But things may change as politicians begin to appreciate there’s no wealth without health.
It surely makes economic sense to ensure all sectors of society are afforded the same opportunity to remain healthy, both mentally and physically. A crisis management ‘patch ‘em up, and ship them out’ NHS does little in tackling the bigger picture. We desperately need a more enlightened approach that sensitively integrates health with social care in an imaginative way that encompasses early intervention pathways. What better place to trial such initiatives than the Isle of Wight, with its pioneering background and success in championing innovation?
In the meantime, whilst we wait for politicians and leaders to hopefully come to their senses, may I recommend a grossly underrated tonic for keeping mentally fit and physically healthy; what’s more it’s totally ‘free’! Walk the dog, meet up with friends, chat and, most importantly, have a good laugh.
Header Picture Hans Bromwich (and Digger)