Observations NHS at 60

How the media are failing the health service

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.a572 (Published 30 June 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a572
  1. Jon Snow, newscaster, Channel 4 News, London
  1. Jon.Snow{at}itn.co.uk

    The overwhelmingly negative slant that the media give to reporting of the health service in Britain does not reflect the experiences of newscaster Jon Snow or those of people he talks to, he recounts

    What is it about the NHS that stimulates such an appetite in the media for bad news and almost none for the good? For me, this issue came to a head with the reporting of the outcome of the great “deep clean” of hospitals. In any other walk of life, 94% of all hospitals having been deep cleaned by the target date would have been regarded as a supreme achievement—but not, it seems, when it comes to the NHS.

    Inevitably, we in the media wanted to know the identities of the 6% that had failed. We wanted to name and shame them. So did ministers. Inevitably the attitude of the media to the NHS is strongly influenced by ministers’ behaviour. Unqualified condemnation of an individual hospital becomes a free-for-all for irresponsible and slapdash journalism. News reporting of …

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