I had already spoken to a BBC Devon reporter about the cancellation of 90% of theatre slots at Derriford at the weekend, and was going to speak to a Spotlight crew, and also on BBC Radio Devon, earlier this week. I wanted to make a point about cuts and their expensive results in both human and financial terms, but was quite unsure about how that might work out. I was wary too of making this about my personal situation, my cancelled op, to the detriment of all those others in a similar position. Radio is far more controllable in that I’d have been speaking live to the presenter. For the tv news, I’d lose that in the edit. In the end, my op stopped the piece and I didn’t feel able on Thursday to speak about it.
Yesterday I knew with absolute certainty that I’d do this. The final impetus came from the woman I’d met in blue bay and our long conversation as we waited. So I called the reporter as soon as I got news that ops were being cancelled, then again when my cancellation was confirmed. Within an hour of arriving home, the reporter and cameraman were there and ready to film.
John was very receptive to my point of view, and having been told earlier by another reporter that he didn’t want political points, I was pretty concerned that this would become a story about the hospital, about their failures rather than the bigger picture.
Once we’d talked in depth, John was happy to discuss my opinion particularly because of my professional NHS experience and because I had some statistical evidence to back the social care crisis, although not for the information I’d been given at the hospital which hadn’t been volunteered in the context of a news report. There’s a whole debate to be had here about politics and the BBC, and the notion of political bias; but opinion is valid, and it isn’t about perceived political bias, it’s about airing the range of viewpoints and sparking debate. Closing it down would appear to be the political and media default at the moment, through rubbishing entire viewpoints and political stances, through personal attacks and sneering.
As John left, he told me he’d already picked up on two points I made that he was going to use to make the story. I didn’t know what those were, however.
I’m very pleased that my points were made, and that the edit allowed me to have a valid and informed opinion. But it could have gone horribly wrong.
I’d like to add Plum’s comments here too, because as ever she’s hit some crucial nails home. (And my happy op top is by ebay, Plum).
I have massively mixed feelings about this.
On the one hand I am incredibly proud of Lynne for having the presence of mind, dignity and perspective to make the very last minute cancellation of her time-critical brain tumour surgery the headline story on her local TV news. She speaks with clarity and without histrionics. I couldn’t manage that in her situation… I can barely talk to her about it without becoming ranty and shouty and sweary and thoroughly undignified… I certainly wouldn’t be fit for TV before the watershed.
But on the other hand I am sad, and livid and disappointed that her surgery has been cancelled in this way. And I am even sadder that the medical director at Derriford, in his statement, didn’t get the obvious point across… That critical care beds are in short supply because this government does not adequately resource the healthcare service that we have all already paid for, that we continue to pay for, and that they promised they would not interfere with before they were elected into coalition. While we have people, in positions of power in NHS Trusts, who do not challenge the government on the elephant in the room that is lack of funding we will never see any improvement. And while we have an electorate that can’t be bothered to look beyond the end of their own noses, and the spin and lies this government feeds them, there is no prospect of change.
And I am absolutely apoplectic at the Tory MPs who, today, talked for 4.5hrs on a two clause bill about foreign nationals that has already been once debated and rejected. They spun that out purposely to thwart debate of a private member’s NHS Reinstatement Bill.
So today sums up perfectly the dichotomy between those who need urgent critical care, and those who will not tolerate any challenge to the government having divested themselves of the responsibility to provide that care free of charge at the point of use.
I’m ashamed of our ‘democracy’. It is a sham.
I’m also quite jealous of Lynne’s green stripy top.