Medicine in the media – Part 1

Media is a fairly new concept. Medicine on the other hand has existed in some form or the other ever since human kind has been getting sick. The depiction of the medical industry is often one that is used for different purposes in media. Be it the news coverage of ‘Ebola’ or the political elements of a ‘privatised healthcare and demolition of the NHS’ or even the romanticisation of being a doctor as is often shown in Television programs.

It all comes down to one point: As long as media depicts medicine, the public’s fascination with it will continue.

A lot of the times it is very important that the media is covering ‘hot topics’. Knowing about disease and deaths due to poor healthcare is extremely relevant in our highly globalised society so that we can make an improvement in a timely fashion. If their was no news coverage then:

  • West African countries would have received little to no provisions during the outbreak of Ebola.
  • Refugees from areas of conflict would have received no basic first aid as they fled for their lives from their home country.
  • Victims of Hurricanes in United States would have been left stranded, homeless and prey to all sorts of infections and pathogens.

Not to mention all the advances in technology, vaccines, pharmaceuticals and global charities that have largely succeeded due to global media coverage of these topics.

However there is a flip side to medicine in media. And that is when media gets it wrong. Take the latest coverage of UK’s National Health Service. Only recently, the Department of Health has declared three-quarters of hospitals in the UK to be ‘unsafe’ for patients. Coupled with the ever increasing waiting times for specialist departments and GP appointments, it is no surprise that there is and a general feeling of discontentment  with the NHS. However, the coverage when the NHS is working and meeting its targets is missing. The media coverage which shows doctors, nurses, paramedics, physiotherapists, health care assistants, social workers, and every single other medical profession working day in day out to make an improvement in people’s lives in missing.

It troubles me when people know half the picture. Not because I am angry and want to defend my future colleagues. But because the NHS is ours. And watching it being mis-represented leads us to a dangerous path. A future in which health care professionals and patients are no longer on the same side. A future where patient’s safety is compromised for financial reasons.

I don’t blame the media though. They have a job. They need to make money to sustain their livelihoods. But I do blame you. And me. For letting it get this far.

It is high time we took a stand for our NHS and our healthcare workers to ensure that false representation isn’t the reason for the failing of the NHS.

Today, London saw a march for opposing the changes to NHS juniour doctor’s contracts to ensure a safe and healthy working environment. This has had a beautiful and well done media coverage. More of this is needed so that more people know the facts as they stand and can make informed choices!



P.S – Part 2 is in a lighter vein, I promise!


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