What Boris Johnson should have said to Omar Salem

I have nothing but sympathy for Omar Salem, the dad who confronted Boris Johnson today. Watch the video on the Guardian, here. Omar’s wee one is only a week old, but was admitted as an emergency. When she got to the ward, she wasn’t seen by a doctor for hours. I can’t imagine Omar would have got much in the way of sleep.

It is absolutely terrifying when someone you love is seriously ill. You need to have confidence in the care that they are getting.

I know.

Three years ago, my husband was very seriously ill and spent 51 nights in hospital. He had some superb care from  truly exceptional people. But occasionally things went wrong. This was invariably because of under-resourcing.

I’ll never forget the day that I was on the ward at just before 5pm and I saw one of the health care assistants getting ready to serve dinner. She had been on night shift the day before until 8am that morning. Because the ward was so short staffed, she’d gone home for a couple of hours’ sleep and gone back in to do the lunches because there was nobody else to do it.

That is simply not safe – for her, mostly.

Other stuff went wrong as well. I won’t give you the gory details, but if you only have one person of a particular grade on duty overnight in an entire hospital, they can’t be everywhere they are needed and vital stuff just doesn’t get done.

If Nicola Sturgeon, or then Health Secretary Shona Robison, had turned up on the ward on one of these days, I might well have given them a piece of my mind. As a worried wife, and a human being, not as a Liberal Democrat.

And if I had done that, I reckon Shona and Nicola would have shown me some kindness. They’d have asked questions and listened. Because they are actually kind and empathetic human beings, and because they know that it is important to handle these things well.

They would not have argued with me and then walked off with an eyeroll as Boris Johnson did to Omar Salem today. I

The way the Prime Minister behaved was inexcusable and yet another example of why he is not fit to be Prime Minister.  That was no way to treat a worried Dad of a tiny, sick baby.

I hope that Omar’s wee girl is getting better and is soon home.


* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • John Marriott 19th Sep '19 - 7:11am

    A rather awkward moment for our publicity conscious PM. A bit like what happened to Mr Blair a few years ago with that lady outside a hospital in Birmingham. And then for the former to claim that there was no press there. There was a subtle difference, though. The lady back then wasn’t, as far as I know, a ‘Labour activist’ as the gentleman, who confronted Mr Johnson, was described as on TV news.

  • Well said Caron. None of us know the circumstances of the care Omar’s daughter got, but it’s very clear that his concern is 100% rooted in genuine concern for his daughter and for the NHS. There might be a case to say that worried parents aren’t always objective, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t sincere and don’t deserve a bit of compassion.

    But the over-riding fact of the matter is that Johnson was there on a press tour, and that Omar had the gumption/confidence/lack of regard for authority to point that out is to his credit. That Johnson attempted to deny that there were any press present is a sign of just how ridiculously out of touch he is with the truth.

    I’ve seen some attempt to claim that Johnson can’t be held personally responsible for the care for one man’s daughter, and that might be true, but someone in Johnson’s team thought that a filmed trip to a hospital would be good electioneering, so they really ought to be prepared for this kind of thing.

  • nigel hunter 19th Sep '19 - 11:21am

    It is exactly why the guru’s at No 10 ‘Nursemaid’ Johnson round cos if he met the real public he drops a clanger! The Ward (newly re-opened) and the people in it ,and his walkabout were just a PR exercise

  • Sue Sutherland 19th Sep '19 - 12:51pm

    I think Johnson is just as unable to deal with vocal criticism as his predecessor Teresa May. This incident and his inability to deliver a press conference in Luxembourg against a background of noisy protesters shows that he is only used to dealing with his own supporters who tell him the whole world agrees with him. It’s a major weakness which will become more obvious over time.

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