Public sector officials must stop the gaslighting

Readers may have noticed the discrepancy between their personal experiences of the NHS and the reassurances of health chiefs that these fears are misplaced. In a letter on Monday, three senior figures said that “people across our NHS and social care system are moving heaven and earth to make up ground and clear backlogs in care while also dealing with the ongoing impact of Covid-19 will”.

Their efforts are not disputed, nor is the impact of the lockdowns on healthcare, although NHS leaders have wanted to extend Covid restrictions, which would have made the situation worse.

It is the results that are at stake here. People have to wait months to see a doctor who diagnoses a potentially life-threatening condition. Abandoned surgeries, overcrowded A&E departments, a paralyzed ambulance service and difficulties in seeing a GP are compounding the problems and there is no point in the people running the NHS claiming otherwise.

The fact is, people can see for themselves how the NHS is failing. Everyone has an anecdote that points to their shortcomings or worse. The officials questioning the experience of millions engage in a form of “gaslighting” — defined as making someone question their own reality. We see it elsewhere in the public sector, like the Passport Office and the DVLA, where countless tales of diabolical service are dismissed as misleading or unusual. We also see it with claims that the visa system for Ukrainian refugees worked well when everyone can see it was a debacle. It has to stop. Public sector officials must stop the gaslighting

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