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Words on writing

Favourite quote today, from Elmore Leonard’s 10 rules on writing: No. 10 “Try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.”

If only the Mid-Staffs victims had had their phones hacked instead….

If only the victims of Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust’s lack of care had had their phones hacked, instead of suffering and dying in miserable, dirty hospital wards.  If only the 1,200 patients of Stafford Hospital alleged to have died prematurely had had their voice mail messages intercepted or removed, not just basic nutrition and water.  And if only they had been celebrity victims.  Then perhaps Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg and Harriet Harman and Oliver Letwin might have sat up for THEM till 2.30am. Then perhaps Ed would have thrown open his offices to THEIR vocal lobbyists, listening to their concerns and thrashing out a plan to deliver a regulator with teeth, a regime where penalties for poor performance are underpinned in law, a regulator that will demand and secure proper apologies and exemplary damages.

Where are the celebrity lobbyists, multi-millionaire donors, Labour Peers and business leaders campaigning for the Mid Staffs victims to have a ‘proper’ regulator?  Who is helping the victims’ families to find their way through the bureaucracy, make the lawmakers care, have the people responsible brought to book?

Miliband, Harman, Clegg and Letwin are way too busy meeting with Hacked Off, with their wealthy and organised backing from the Media Standards Trust and Common Purpose.  Too busy focused on a high-profile group with the funding and contacts to make things happen for ‘their’ victims, to command political attention, to set the national agenda.  To make sure that the dwindling band of print journalists not currently under arrest or on police bail, from the dwindling number of actual printed papers, will operate under greater strictures than ever before.

Meanwhile, the healthcare regulator the Care Quality Commission continues to report on poorly performing hospitals and care homes.  Only this week they identified that one in five hospitals is failing to meet basic standards of care.  Where are the arrests, the suspensions, the sackings?  Where’s the celebrity outrage?  For the victims there, what must their families be feeling to see so much attention, funding and support from party leaders, MPs, all targeting tougher press regulation?

Safe, trustworthy hospital care – way down in the priority list.  But ‘hold the front page’ till we’re happy no-one is misrepresented?  Yes, that’s what we really care about in this country.


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“That’s all we have, finally, the words, and they had better be the right ones.”  (Raymond Carver)