"..a bardy view!"

Prince Philip in hot water over the Philippines


Prince Philip meets Filipina nurse

"Just put it there pal!"

Prince Philip has hit the headlines again in his own
inimitable style, with what some consider another of his famous gaffes.


for his jokey persona he tends to dispel the restrictions of diplomatic speak
and just pops up with the first thing which enters his head.

And why not? He's 91 years old with a great sense of humour.

Some perceive his words as racist or insulting (not normally by those on the receiving end) and it's the media who run with them trying to make
a story out of nothing.

Philip is reported as saying to a Filipina nurse that he
thinks her country must be half empty as most are over here in the UK running the NHS (note he said "running"). I suspect he meant it as a compliment – after all, he spent a lot
of time in hospital since the Queen's Jubilee Pageant on the Thames where he
was getting soaked to the skin and having his royal bollocks frozen off, so he
probably saw first-hand the various nationalities employed as health care
staff, and clearly they made an impression on him.

If I was a Filipino I would regard it as a compliment.
Indeed the nurse certainly didn't show any offence, not even in the glint of an
eye or slight frown of the forehead – no – she just beamed.

The Daily Mail as usual would highlight that many a true
word has been said in jest, and this is yet another example of "our islands
being invaded with foreigners taking our jobs, homes, and bleeding the state
dry" etc. ad nausea. Their "little Englander" readers have come out in
force commenting along the same lines.

Yet the truth is that only 16,000 nurses in the NHS are from
the Philippines (according to the Nursing and Midwifery Council) out of a total of 670,000. My simple calculation concludes that
this is only 2.4%. Hardly a figure to get "Disgusted of Tonbridge
spluttering over his port and stilton.

Perhaps it's because they are naturally warm, friendly,
agreeable and hardworking that Philip has noticed them. Presumably that leaves
97.6% who could learn a lesson or two!

But why did this influx of Filipino nurses happen in the
first place? We don't have to go too far back. Such was the lack of investment
by previous governments that home grown qualified nurses were in short supply,
and the NHS was haemorrhaging as a consequence.

Nurses were undervalued, underpaid and the profession was
not considered a good career move. Things had to change. Recruitment and
training would take several years, and in the interim, nurses had to come from

So off went the managers to Manila and began recruiting in
earnest. I'd like to blame the Blair and Brown years, but it was a systematic
decline and a salutary lesson how governments use and abuse the nation's
beloved jewel in the crown. As they still do.

The cuts are biting, overseas recruitment is down due to
work and visa restrictions, and there's a big fear of redundancies.

In 2011 there were 200,000 registered nurses in the
Philippines who were unable to find a job, and an estimated 80,000 due to
graduate in 2012, all seeking employment in an already saturated market.
Victims of global politics and economics outside of their control, and what
will happen to them now?

There's always more behind a headline than just a sound
bite. Yes, many a true word is said in jest, and a quip can often expose the
truth, but it’s a truth which some sections of the media choose to interpret

Related articles

Prince Philip cracks joke about number of Filipinos working in NHS.. as he meets Filipino nurse
Prince Philip jokes about numbers of Filipino nurses in NHS
Philip cracks Filipino nurse joke

February 20, 2013 - Posted by | Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Europe, London, Politics, The Philippines, United Kingdom | , , , , , , ,


  1. As always from my point of view, there is more to your post than meets the eye. Nurses by and large saved my life in the times when it was considered a vocation. Consequently, long hours for very little pay. This never sat easy with me. I ended up marrying one, and my youngest daughter is about to qualify as a general and paediatric nurse and nothing gives me greater pleasure than this. Furthermore, within the parameters of my life, and what has happened to me, I can say with unequivocal certainty, that the best thing which can see one through this, is a sense of humour. It is so great an achievement that it decry s description. Sadly, this is so often misunderstood? Bravo Philip.


    Comment by spookmoor | February 20, 2013 | Reply

  2. Hear Hear! And thank you for your erudite comment. Our nurses are greatly undervalued, and you’re right – it is a vocation first and foremost and we do not reward them sufficiently. Nor should it matter a jot where they come from. All that matters is that they matter.


    Comment by Bar De Ness | February 20, 2013 | Reply

  3. Well said Bar and bravo.


    Comment by spookmoor | February 21, 2013 | Reply

  4. Excellent post. My brother, a male nurse for the past almost thirty years, has many a story to tell about the industry that is never mentioned in the media. Mainly, a lot of the points you’ve just made with your article.


    Comment by charlino | February 22, 2013 | Reply

  5. Thank you for your input Charlino. It’s rather ironic that it takes an outspoken Queen’s consort to raise an important issue which his hypocritical and callous government hasn’t the bottle to neither identify or appreciate.


    Comment by Bar De Ness | February 22, 2013 | Reply

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