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Home News RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Thank you for calling NHS helpline... all our operators are...

RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Thank you for calling NHS helpline… all our operators are working from home

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Coronavirus has had a catastrophic knock-on effect on the nation’s health, as non-Covid conditions have gone untreated.

Vital operations for everything from cancer to heart disease have been postponed and hospital admissions during lockdown are down 43 per cent year-on-year.

Such is the concentration on Covid, even chemotherapy sessions have been cancelled.

Between March and June, the number of people being treated for seven deadly non-corona illnesses fell by more than 173,000.

Vital operations have been postponed and hospital admissions during lockdown are down 43 per cent year-on-year. Pictured: staff cares for patient at Royal Papworth Hospital, Cambridge

Vital operations have been postponed and hospital admissions during lockdown are down 43 per cent year-on-year. Pictured: staff cares for patient at Royal Papworth Hospital, Cambridge 

So successful was the Government’s STAY AT HOME OR YOU’RE ALL GOING TO DIE! propaganda campaign that patients with potentially life-threatening symptoms were too frightened to seek help.

The result has been a sharp rise in deaths from conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Some people have literally been scared to death. Others have effectively been shut out of surgeries.

Health chiefs have now written to every GP in the country ordering them to resume face-to-face consultations immediately.

Up until now, the only way many people have been able to contact the NHS is via the 111 non-emergency telephone line. And with the Government imposing a new Lockdown Lite — the so- called Rule of Six — there are fears that people will still be reluctant to visit surgeries and A&E departments because they are worried about contracting Covid.

The NHS hotline is expected to come under renewed pressure. Yesterday, this column dialled 111 to find out what callers can expect . . .

Thank you for calling Our Amazing NHS 111 telephone helpline. For English, press 1. For Urdu, press 2. For a selection of 287 other languages, many of them Scribble, press 3.

Hello.

All our operators are currently working from home until further notice, so there may be a short wait of up to three months before your call is answered. Please hold.

Hello.

Your well-being is our priority. While you hold for an operator, you can listen to our carefully curated playlist. For Vivaldi, press 1. For Stormzy, press 2. For Land Of Hope And Glory, press 3, you racist, fascist pig.

Hello.

Thank you for holding. All our operators are having a nice cup of tea and a chocolate Hobnob. If you wish to make an appointment to see a doctor, press 1 and you will be cut off.

With the Government's so-called Rule of Six (above, people use social distancing markers in a Canary Wharf park), there are fears people will still be reluctant to visit surgeries and A&E

With the Government’s so-called Rule of Six (above, people use social distancing markers in a Canary Wharf park), there are fears people will still be reluctant to visit surgeries and A&E

Hello.

Your call is important to us and will be answered by the next available operator. Please hold. All our operators are taking the dog for a walk. To be transferred to someone in Bangalore, please press 2.

Hello.

Answers to frequently asked questions can be found on our dedicated website, www.ouramazingnhs.org. If you wish to speak to a human being, please continue to hold. All our operators are watching Bargain Hunt.

Hello.

Thank you for holding. All our operators are making themselves a cappuccino and a toasted cheese and pickle sandwich. If you have just arrived at Dover in a dinghy, press 3 and you will be transferred to the DSS in Croydon.

Hello.

If you are calling to make an appointment to see a consultant, please hang up and try again next week. All our consultants are currently on the golf course. For any other inquiry, please continue to hold.

Hello.

Thank you for holding. Your call will be answered by the first available operator, once she has had her afternoon nap. If you are having a heart attack, try taking an aspirin.

Hello.

Did you know that obesity drastically increases your chances of dying from Covid? If you wish to lose weight, press 1 and ask for Dr Mosley. For milk shakes and soup, press 2 and you will be transferred to Ocado.

Hello.

All our operators are surfing the internet, buying stuff they don’t need off Amazon. If you would like to hear a politician speaking to you as if you were five years old, press 1 for Boris, or press 2 for Matt Hancock. For Wee Burney, press the red button on your Sky remote.

So successful was the Government's STAY AT HOME OR YOU'RE ALL GOING TO DIE! campaign that patients with potentially life-threatening symptoms were too frightened to seek help

So successful was the Government’s STAY AT HOME OR YOU’RE ALL GOING TO DIE! campaign that patients with potentially life-threatening symptoms were too frightened to seek help 

Hello.

If you still wish to consult your GP, please turn on your computer and download the Zoom app. The doctor will see you sometime in the next six weeks, once he has finished self-isolating after returning from holiday in Portugal.

Hello.

All our operators are watching Countdown. If you have lost the will to live, press 2. If your ears are bleeding, try plugging them with cotton wool. If you wish to applaud Our Amazing NHS Heroes, press 3 and start clapping now.

Hello.

All our operators have settled down to Netflix and chill. If you are calling to grass up your neighbours for inviting more than six people to dinner, press 999 to speak to a police officer.

Hello.

‘Ello, ‘ello, ‘ello. Thank you for calling 999. You have reached the Covid Narkline. All our operators are taking the knee in support of Black Lives Matter. Please hold . . .

‘Get right down to the real nitty gritty’

An angry backlash against professional sportsmen kneeling before matches in support of Black Lives Matter is under way in the U.S.

Fans of a number of NFL teams, including the Denver Broncos, the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers, have voiced their disgust. There’s even talk of a boycott when supporters are eventually allowed back into stadiums.

At least the NFL players are demonstrating about something which happened in their own country, the brutal killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis.

While we were all horrified by that incident, there’s absolutely no justification for the subsequent, hysterical over-reaction in Britain, however well intentioned.

Inevitably, English football has clambered on the bandwagon and we are forced to endure players taking the knee and giving the black power clenched-fist salute. My guess is that, if and when stadiums reopen here, sections of the crowd will also react negatively to this transiently fashionable showboating. 

People don’t go to football matches to have politics shoved down their throats. For what it’s worth, I sympathise with the players. If they refuse to comply, they’ll be falsely and wickedly smeared as racists. The BLM fanatics don’t brook any dissent.

I first heard Nitty Gritty on holiday in Detroit in 1969. It was the title of a hit single by Gladys Knight and The Pips (above) taken from a Motown album of the same name

I first heard Nitty Gritty on holiday in Detroit in 1969. It was the title of a hit single by Gladys Knight and The Pips (above) taken from a Motown album of the same name

Yes, racism still exists in society, sadly, but football has been in the vanguard of fighting discrimination for the past 25 years.

Back in the Nineties, I can remember doing radio and TV shows promoting the Kick It Out campaign, with founder member Paul Elliott, the ex-Chelsea defender.

That worthy cause has never received a fraction of the attention currently being paid to Black Lives Matter.

Yet since the BLM madness kicked off in Britain, broadcasters have been falling over each other to get in on the act.

Sky Sports News plasters BLM logos on screen at every available opportunity. It’s becoming unwatchable.

The BBC has even banned commentators from using ‘racist’ expressions, including ‘nitty gritty’, which allegedly refers to the detritus found in the hold of slave ships. I say ‘allegedly’ because other reports claim it wasn’t used until the Fifties.

You pays your money. I first heard Nitty Gritty on holiday in Detroit in 1969. It was the title of a hit single by Gladys Knight and The Pips taken from a Motown album of the same name. The song still features in her setlist to this day. Diana Ross and The Supremes covered it, too.

Nitty Gritty was composed by black American Lincoln Chase, who also wrote for The Drifters and Ruth Brown, the first ‘Queen of R&B’.

It was originally recorded in 1963 by Shirley Ellis, a black American of West Indian heritage, best known for The Clapping Song and The Name Game.

And if Nitty Gritty was good enough for Miss Gladys, Diana Ross, Shirley Ellis and Ruth Brown, all descendants of slaves, it should be good enough for the BBC.

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