To the horror of health campaigners in Stafford – and even her former allies – Channel 4 has announced plans to produce a drama about ‘Cure the NHS’ founder Julie Bailey, the person many Stafford NHS supporters say played a huge role in the loss of many of their health services
The issue in the history of the SKWAWKBOX that first brought the blog to public attention was the Mid Staffordshire Hospital scandal. But the scandal wasn’t what the media were telling the public.
Claims – still treated as fact by many media outlets and politicians – of ‘hundreds of needless deaths’ were pushed relentlessly at a time when the Tories were eager for anything they could use to attack the Labour Party’s strength as creators and protectors of the NHS.
Those claims, however, turned out to be untrue – an artefact arising from poor handling of statistics – and eventually and bad recording of deaths because of cuts – the hospital had sacked its trained ‘coders’ to cut costs – treated as fact for political purposes.
When the entire media estate was telling the nation that between four and twelve hundred patients died avoidably as a result of poor care at Mid Staffs, the SKWAWKBOX analysed the statistics, interviewed the coders who recorded deaths at the hospital and talked to clinical staff about the realities of daily care – and exposed the myth.
In the end, the government used the lurid, false claims to attack the hospital and the people of Stafford lost most of its services – and now have to travel at least forty minutes to Stoke, which has also buckled under the strain.
Now, to the dismay of Stafford health campaigners and even her former allies, Channel 4 has announced plans to produce a drama about Julie Bailey, the founder of Cure the NHS, a then-local who became the Establishment and media face of the claims of huge death tolls and terrible care – eventually receiving a CBE for her ‘services’.
Many local residents consider Julie Bailey’s activities to be a major factor in the loss of their hospital services and regard her with deep suspicion – and there are certainly issues with her claims that none of the ‘mainstream’ media never bothered to probe or explore.
you’d just presume they’d fallen on the floor – and you’d just have to leave them crying out
In 2013, for example, she was interviewed by the BBC for the Radio 4 programme The Long View – and it was a deeply problematic interview in which she admitted sitting by watching patients struggle and suffer without taking any action, yet was never challenged or questioned about her claims:
Ms Bailey admitted watching patients ‘crying out for their food‘ that they couldn’t reach, while desperately trying to ‘scrum down the bottom of their bed‘ to reach it – and ‘eating it with their fingers‘ on the occasions ‘when they did get to it‘.
She admitted hearing patients cry until falling silent after tumbling out of their beds:
their doors would be shut so you’d just presume they’d fallen on the floor – and you’d just have to leave them crying out ‘help, help’ and they’d go quiet.
Bailey claimed that her mother was clinging to her so she couldn’t help, yet by her own account as a well person watching sick people struggle she did not intervene even by shouting for a nurse or pressing a call-buzzer.
And for long enough for people who were crying out after falling out of bed to fall silent.
Stafford hospital campaigners are appalled that a video is being made about Ms Bailey. One post on the Support Stafford Hospital website sums up the feelings of locals:
We all remember only to well the “scandal”, what it did to families, to the staff, to the residents of Stafford and Surrounds. No one can deny there was no problems, underfunding and understaffing being the reason and today that situation continues yet our staff work hardest to maintain the highest standards and are a credit to UHNM Trust and our town.
We know the data was incorrect and incomplete, data was not requested from the hospital by Robert Francis nor was it offered. We know people suffered distress from thinking they had left their loved ones in a terrible place yet they were mystified that they had not seen severe problems for themselves. We know of patients from that time who were so shocked to read such vile accounts because they had not themselves suffered poor care or witnessed such. During those years the same thing was happening in most hospitals all due to the same reasons but it was Midstaffs that was made the target and we all know why that was!
Stories were exaggerated and untruths added to make them more appealing to the media. Money was made, with no shame attached, from a story of immense suffering on all sides. There were six proven deaths, no profit should ever be gained from those patients or their respective families by any individual or media company. Any individual willing to re-open wounds has little or no respect for the families of the deceased or indeed the staff and the residents of Stafford and Surrounds.
This was not a story of one individual, it involved thousands of people most of whom were not allowed to speak to the media. It involves thousands who struggle daily to get from one end of the county to the next because our services were downgraded. Midstaffs will never ever be the story of one person, not unless that person wishes to take full responsibility for the consequences that come of the removal of all vital services especially those of babies and children.
(Emphases added by the SKWAWKBOX)
Many of Julie Bailey’s former ‘Cure’ allies are also horrified at the planned programme:
Channel 4 has been contacted for comment.
Channel 4 is faced with three options. It can pull its plans for the programme as many Stafford people clearly wish.
It can produce a programme, but do its research properly and present an accurate picture of what happened that takes into account all aspects and include the suspicions and experiences of others – and Ms Bailey’s own comments about her actions and inaction in the hospital.
Or it can plough ahead with a lionising programme ‘through the eyes’ of a woman who admitted on national radio to doing nothing as people struggled, suffered – and fell silent.
Will it ignore evidence and propagate the ‘myth of Mid Staffs’? Or will it dispel myths and let people see what really went on and how the government abused a situation to strip hospital services and as part of a wider attack the NHS?
Ms Bailey was contacted for comment earlier this week. She did not respond.
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