If only blogging had been invented in 1974.
That was the year that a certain consultant obstetrician took over in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda (just north of Dublin). If blogging were part of Irish culture then, a nurse in the hospital might have revealed what was going on. Blogging enables
whistle-blowers to bring out into the open what’s going on behind the scenes.
Blogging lets the powerless speak out. Potentially it is the greatest social audit ever invented. Blogs, and the community of bloggers, can hold the mighty to account and thereby prevent violence.
The papers and radio today are full of the story of what went wrong in one Irish hospital. I haven’t read Judge Maureen Handing Clark’s 300+ page report.
I’m glad I didn’t rush into blogging about it. Every hour another piece of the jigsaw has fallen into place. It reminds me so much of the Stephen Lawrence case.
Over the last few years a new term has entered the English language in the UK: institutionised racism. The London police (the Met) were found guilty of “institutionalised racism” by that enquiry report.
In a nutshell, “institutionalised racism” means that there is a system of racism that is so pervasive that the core issue is not racism by individuals, or even unconscious racism by a particular section. The whole culture, its systems, procedures, policies are so racist that no one sees what is going on.. No one intends to be racist but all collaborate in such a way that a racist outcome is inevitable. The London police force, indeed London and British society, are still grappling with the aftermath of Stephen Lawrence’s murder and its failure to bring his killers to justice.
So you can see perhaps why I remember Stephen Lawrence when I think about the women who had their wombs untimely and unnecessarily ripped out by a consultant who thought that what he was doing was OK.
That consultant in one Irish hospital was not an “evil” doctor, says the Judge. That shocked me. I thought of Doctor Shipman: he was also thought by some people to be a kindly doctor.
Institutionalised contraception perhaps?
Who was involved?
1 The consultant
2 Those who selected him for the job
3 Those who worked with him on a daily basis
4 Those who failed to notice that he didn’t report what he was doing
5 Those who owned the hospital and set its culture
6 Those who let the consultants be a law unto themselves
7 Those who knew that the Irish ‘health’ system has professions in it who were beyond public scrutiny
What’s the point in trying to list everyone…
Why I failed to do my duty:
From 1955 – 68, I had a dentist in Limerick. He filled my teeth every time I went to him. He ruined my teeth, so that I’ve had to have every tooth rescued by a real dentist in Dublin in 1972. The dentist that caused my teeth, and the teeth of my brothers and sister, to suffer disastrously was Paddy MacPoland (or something like that). He was a good golfer, a captain of the club.
I have an uncle who was a dentist at the same time. He would not say a word against that other dentist, even thought he knew the damage MacP was doing. He would only hint that it might be a good idea to get a second opinion. He refused to say a bad word against him even in private.
Doctors and dentists never spoke against each other. It was part of their professional code. They conspired against their patients, systematically.
I knew this from the age of ten.
What did I do to protest against the power of the professions in Ireland? Nothing.
Who else has known about this culture of not questioning the consultant?
Every fucking one of us, I’m afraid. Including Mary Harney, the Minister.
No one thought such a culture could lead to one consultant running a one-man contraception service, contrary to the wishes of about 100 women in one small hospital on the east coast of Ireland.
The obvious questions now are :
(1) How do we know what’s going on in the other hospitals?
(2) What must we do now to prevent any element of the system from exercising undue influence? (And we must assume the profession of doctors are suspect because of their past behaviour.)
(3) How can we reward whistle-blowing so that it becomes a better thing to do than turn a blind eye to wrong doing?
The violence on Saturday came from one class in Irish society. This violence against women has come from the other end of the social spectrum.
Our Lady of Lourdes must be turning in her grave.
I keep coming back to a worry I have about the safety of my daughter.