Dutch doctors supported by mediaBMJ 2000; 321 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7262.712 (Published 16 September 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:712
- Godelieve van Heteren, university lecturer in medical history and freelance journalist, department of ethics
- Philosophy and History of Medicine Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Nijmegen, Netherlands
British doctors may feel all alone in the trenches as they continue to be hit by a relentless series of scandals in the press. Professional demoralisation, however, seems to be a much more widespread phenomenon, currently affecting many European healthcare settings, hinting at deeper and perhaps more common roots of professional unease. What clearly varies, however, are professional strategies to deal with the media.
Take the Netherlands. Here, too, healthcare provision has come under fire. But rather than pillorying doctors, most journalists aim their critical arrows elsewhere: at government, insurers, and hospital administrators. In the process, professionals have become the media's best friends, as victims of a failing system.
This peculiar state of affairs became visible again recently, when one of the senior commentators of De Telegraaf, the most widely read Dutch populist national morning paper, filled a column with his personal selection of headlines on health care from the previous few months (De Telegraaf, 29 July). These included: “Many demented elderly without care” (Haarlems Dagblad); “Shortage of doctors to check up on children” (Tubantia); “Too little radiotherapy available for cancer patients” (NRC Handelsblad); “GPs sick of workload” (Drentse Courant); “A third of GPs will stop this year” (Het Parool); “Pregnant women without midwives” (Noordhollands Dagblad); “Day-budget finished, patients sent home” (De Limburger); and “Waiting …