If you happened to look at BBC1’s Panorama last week you would have seen that they looked into why named British hospitals had too high a mortality rate. But, before the investigation opened, a text said that the BBC Trust had found errors of fact and errors in the way a November Panorama programme had been made. Then it took Thameside Trust Hospital and two others to pieces over a litany of mistakes, carelessness and downright disregard for human life. Relatives retold their sad story and doctors admitted the problems that they said were systemic in the Health system. Shocking stuff about recent events but you couldn’t help thinking that if such terrible things happened here in Ireland that the enquiry would be a whitewash of lies and half-truths.

Like Britain we have self-regulatory systems, where the HSE investigates the HSE and we are just not as open about family complaints. I don’t even think that Irish families would be as frank, angry or as outspoken as the people in the programme.


The day after the Panorama programme was broadcast, the Irish news and opinions programmes reveal the shocking news that in the so-called state-of-the art hospital in Tallaght that over 58,000 x-rays taken over a four year period were never reviewed by a consultant radiologist and that G.P.’s had raised concerns about this as far back as last summer. No wonder Vincent Brown was almost apoplectic on TV3 when the Minister sort of suggested that the problem sort of rested with the HSE. Kettle calling the pot black, how are ye. Then it was mentioned that HIQA – the Health Information Quality Authority had been looking into it since before December of last year.

Now it is just a “systemic and process failure” – blame the system.


Hail women, without them etc., etc. Love women. Of course, I do, but the new BBC4 series Women – looking back to the fifties and the rise of feminism and Women’s Liberation was a difficult experience.

Some of the iconic campaigners seemed sad in their seventies and Kate Millett looked so disheveled and old. Her story was sad and shocking and it was easier to understand her dislike of men.

Marilyn French came across as so reasonable and honest and it was sad to remember what all the fuss was about. Only for women it wasn’t fuss, it was a statement of freedom against male dominated chauvinism.

Germaine Greer was still feisty and as always makes great controversial sense. She spoke out, she seemed real and I loved her quote – “I’ve never been a tremendous fan of marching.” But isn’t it sad to see such spirit, such revolution reduced to a history lesson.

Be Angry

TV has a great capacity for making people care and get angry about injustice. Last week the x-ray revelations had that effect on many people. Famous Rich and Jobless on BBC1 had the same effect as it looked at joblessness by putting celebrities in terrible social conditions. Sometimes these shows are no more than fanciful sideshows but not this one. They put Larry Lamb, actor from Eastenders, Diarmuid Gavin, gardener, Meg Matthews interior designer and ex-wife of Noel Gallagher and Emma Parker Bowles, model and motoring journalist in areas of high joblessness and social deprivation. These celebs had about forty pounds Job Seekers Allowance to live on and they had to actively look for work. Gavin tried but got work by persisting and asking but it saddened him as it did Parker Bowles.

I got sad myself and felt a strange helpless fear of being unemployed myself and I have been unemployed before and didn’t feel as hopeless as this programme made me feel.

The same week the BBC looked at similar topics in Jobless by featuring families hit by recession and in Work Experience as comedian Rhod Gilbert tried his hand at different jobs.

Larry Lamb didn’t bother looking for work, just spent what little he had on food and went to the beach. Good on him, when it turned out that those who got work actually worked more than they were allowed and were then expected to return the so-called Job Seekers Allowance. Crazy or what?