The 'grotesque truth' of Richard & Judy
January 15, 2013, Press Dispensary. British paramedics' blood is boiling at an article written by Richard & Judy - Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan - in Saturday's Daily Express. And members of the College of Paramedics are reporting a backlash from members of the public. They are calling for Richard Madeley to apologise unequivocally and to donate his Daily Express fee to the Ambulance Services Benevolent Fund.
On Saturday January 12, 2013, under the heading "RISKING A BABY'S LIFE FOR LUNCH" the Richard & Judy article asserted the "grotesque truth" that "West Midlands Ambulance Service's finest continued to munch their lunch after a six-week-old baby boy suffered a heart attack" and that "Incredibly, paramedics refused to interrupt their lunch break despite an emergency call for an ambulance to attend"(1).
"It's simply not true that this crew sat 'feeding their faces' knowing that a patient, in this case a baby, was suffering a life-threatening heart condition," said Andy Proctor, Paramedic spokesperson for College of Paramedics members in the West Midlands.
"It's absolutely outrageous to suggest that this or, indeed, any paramedic or ambulance crew would knowingly sit eating a meal whilst a child's life is at threat . We believe that this article has totally misreported the facts in this case."
"What he [Madeley] also didn't mention is that a paramedic was already at the patient's side within minutes, providing life-saving treatment.
"Not only has it caused worry and humiliation to the individuals concerned, it has also caused worry and concern in the local population."
Jim Petter, Director of Professional Standards, for the College of Paramedics, said:
"This inaccurate and poorly-researched journalism has resulted in not only abuse and threats to one of the country's most dedicated and selfless professions, paramedics, but also potentially caused anxiety, stress and concern for others, including the family of the patient referred to."
Chair of the College of Paramedics Council and Consultant Paramedic, Professor Andy Newton, said:
"The College of Paramedics has grave concerns over this unfortunate and poorly articulated news story, which not only serves to defame the paramedics and ambulance crews in question, but also undermines the public’s confidence in our emergency services.
"Richard & Judy have long been seen as the bastions of sensibility and fairness and have, I understand, previously complained about inappropriate journalism. However, on this occasion it would appear that they have made a grave error of judgement. It is for this reason that I am, on behalf of our members, writing to complain directly to the Daily Express Newspaper, as they do not fall under the remit of the Press Complaints Commission to investigate our complaint."
Chief Executive of the College of Paramedics, David Hodge said:
"Very importantly, our thoughts are with the child and his family, and we sincerely hope that he is able to make as full a recovery as possible.
"But it is extremely disappointing to read such an article which plainly has not reported all the facts clearly. While we are disappointed that the child had to wait so long for a transporting ambulance when being so ill, I must stress that he was being attended throughout by a life-saving paramedic and that the paramedic crew, so criticised in this article, would not even have been aware of the call.
"We fully support paramedics throughout the UK and also in this instance the West Midlands Ambulance Service. We recognise the immense pressures placed on paramedics, which sometimes involve entire shifts of 12 hours or more, under high pressure, without a proper meal break.
"Paramedics and ambulance crews across the country work under great pressure and under relentless demand. Their well-being has to be considered otherwise they simply wouldn’t be fit to carry out their jobs which are so vital to the public."
The College of Paramedics calls for an unequivocal public apology from Richard Madeley and donation of his fee from the Daily Express to the Ambulance Services Benevolent Fund.
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Notes for editors
1. The College of Paramedics is the professional body for UK paramedics. Formed in 2002, originally as the British Paramedic Association it represents the professional interests of paramedics and student paramedics. It is not a trade union.
2. There are more than 18,000 paramedics registered in the UK with the Health and Care Professions Council (http://www.hcpc-uk.org)
3. Paramedics are health professions are regulated by law and form one of the Allied Health Professions (as defined by the Department of Health). Although not directly representing other non-registered ambulance service clinical staff, the College is equally concerned for other frontline emergency ambulance staff, such as ambulance technicians and emergency care assistants, who routinely work under the leadership of paramedics.
4. West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust has issued a number of statements in relation to this article and associated local press, which can be found at: http://officialwmas.posterous.com/
For further information, please contact:
David Davis, College of Paramedics
Tel: 01278 427212