Thursday, 22 March 2007

The tale of an NHS cleaner

A nameless cleaner was scrubbing away on a nameless NHS ward, his back ached and his knees were sore but he immersed himself in the daily grind. He had come to England from a land far away where he once worked as a top researcher in genetics. Political circumstance had unfortunately forced him and his young family to leave their homeland, and to flee to our shores. Life had not been easy for them, in fact they had barely stood still since arriving but at least now things had become a little more settled; he had a regular job, even if he was a little overqualified for cleaning. He still tried to make the best of it and by thinking of what he did have, he avoided falling into a cycle of self-pity. The work was mind numbingly boring and he was not used to the physical toil, but despite this he gained a certain satisfaction from doing things well and to the best of his ability.

His ears pricked up as he heard one of the staff nurses on the ward chatting to one of her friends:

'I can't believe how much these doctors get paid, Kylie, look at this here....', pointing at the front page of the Daily Mail, 'they're earning more than me and you put together, it's disgusting!'

He stayed in his crouched position behind the desk, they obviously hadn't noticed him going about his daily business and they carried on; Kylie replied:

'We work as many hours and we work just as hard as the doctors, and the patients are more grateful for what we do a lot of the time. We're just not valued at all, it's a national disgrace it is!'

The cleaner's head slowly rose into the view of the nurses and they immediately became rather silent, the quiet was broken by the rather softly spoken cleaner who posed a question to the nurses:

'I couldn't help but overhear your conversation there, I don't mean to be rude in saying this...... but why do I not get paid as much as the doctors? I work just as hard, I work similar hours and the patients certainly value my job.'

He looked at them for a moment, waiting for their reply, a few seconds passed before one of them quipped back in a rather mocking manner:

'Well, you're only a cleaner aren't you!'

They both looked at him in a rather condescending manner, as if they expected him to get back to work and accept his place. It was therefore somewhat of a surprise to them when the cleaner stood tall, and asserted himself with some rather firm but softly spoken words:

'I am just a cleaner, that is indeed true. But surely the doctors could point to the fact that you are both 'just nurses'.'

The nurses briefly glanced at each other, and they noticed that they had both turned a rather delicate shade of beetroot. The cleaner paused to observe this reaction and then got back to the job in hand, feeling a little warmer inside that he had before.

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