Britology Watch: Deconstructing \’British Values\’

23 September 2008

Campaign For Plain England (No. 9): Dom’s On My Case

Working at home today – yes, really am working – and I just caught most of Dom’s On the Case, which is described on the BBC1 website as follows:

“Five-part series in which Dom Littlewood uncovers and investigates serious problems within the National Health Service. Dom looks at the clever ways that the NHS makes money out of its patients, from car parking charges to the high street chains that charge you more for the same food and drink in hospital branches. He meets members of the public across the country who have suffered because of the NHS’s shortcomings, including a woman with cancer who’s having to pay for all her NHS treatment”.

OK, you guessed it: all the cases of NHS shortcomings investigated in this morning’s programme related to England only, as:

  • they’ve abolished car-parking charges in Wales and are going to do so in Scotland
  • the cancer drugs withheld from the English patients featured in the show are available in Scotland
  • there are far fewer commercial high-street chains with franchises in hospitals in Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland than in England, where they’ve replaced facilities that used to be laid on by the hospitals themselves.
But Dom didn’t mention these facts, did he; or utter the word ‘England’ once – at least not while I was watching. It was all ‘NHS’ (not ‘NHS in England’), ‘the country’ and ‘the UK’, even though all the examples were English.
Correction, there was one example of a positive treatment available somewhere in ‘the country’ (guessed it correctly, again: Scotland) but not elsewhere: elderly physiotherapy patients in Scotland being encouraged to play on a Nintendo Wii to recover their mobility and balancing skills. Somehow, if you live in England, I can’t see Wii coming to a ward near you!
To be fair, Dom did say at the end of this first in a series of five that, next week, he’d investigate how the things he’d uncovered in the show varied according to people’s ‘postcodes’: implying that different parts of, say, England might show vast discrepancies as to what drugs were available; rather than the reality, which is that the biggest variations are those across the borders of the UK.
Well, let’s wait till next week’s show to see if Dom and the programme makers can bring themselves to ‘say England’ when they mean England. They certainly didn’t today.
My points rating today will be done on the same basis as the ‘pain’ rating they ask hospital patients to provide to treatment staff (at least, in England), ranging from one to ten (which logically should be from nought to ten in my book, but I’m pedantic that way):
Dom: seven out of ten – a bit of a pain, mate: you’re English aren’t you!
BBC / programme production team: six out of ten – well done for highlighting the problem; but if you won’t correctly diagnose the sickness, then it bloody well hurts!


  1. “And because we know that almost every British family has been touched by cancer, Alan Johnson and I know we must do more to relieve the financial worry that so often goes alongside the heartache. And so I can announce today for those in our nation battling cancer from next year you will not pay prescription charges.

    And this is not the limit of our commitment to a fair NHS in a fair society. As over the next few years the NHS generates cash savings in its drugs budget we will plough savings back into abolishing charges for all patients with long-term conditions. That’s the fairness patients want and the fairness every Labour party member will go out and fight for.”

    A result of sorts – but no ‘devolution context’ whatsoever!

    Comment by Hendre — 23 September 2008 @ 3.29 pm | Reply

  2. Yes, Hendre; but they’re not going to fund the actual cancer drugs, such as Avastin, available to Scottish NHS patients. And although Brown talks of British families touched by cancer, the actual measures he announces relate to England only – but he doesn’t acknowledge that fact. Not fairness; and not honesty.

    Comment by David — 23 September 2008 @ 6.30 pm | Reply

  3. “And so I can announce today for those in our Nation”….er, what “Nation” would that be then.

    Does this idiot know no bounds when it comes to muddying the waters of devolution ? or is it that he STILL can’t utter the dreaded E word.

    Comment by Big Englander — 23 September 2008 @ 6.55 pm | Reply

  4. I agree – the language used in this passage is highly disingenuous.

    With regard to the availability of drugs Nice recommendations of course apply to England, Wales and Northern Ireland. One way of looking at the divergent provision in Scotland is as a lever to bring pressure to bear for similar provision in the rest of the UK.

    Brown couldn’t bring himself to admit it but that is what has happened with prescription charges – it’s not the same policy as in Wales but it is converging.

    Comment by Hendre — 24 September 2008 @ 9.11 am | Reply

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