Linklog entries in August 2014

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Crisis in the London Ambulance Service 

Bravo to the Spectator for covering the crisis in the London Ambulance Service which has paramedics leaving in droves.

This article reinforces what I’ve heard from paramedics on the frontline in the LAS. And here are a few more points they’ve made…

Paramedics used to be dispatched in pairs – so whatever stressful and traumatic cases they faced, they had a ‘buddy’ to share the responsibility with, who they could have a meaningful debrief with over a cup of tea at the end of a shift. That’s gone now due to cost-cutting. Often paramedics will be dispatched with technicians or support workers, who can’t share the responsibility for decision-making, and who often change shift by shift. This is a major loss of support for paramedics which makes the job tougher, scarier and more tempting to leave.

A side-effect of shrinking paramedic staff is greater reliance on private ambulance companies to fill the gaps. This costs the LAS more money and raises questions about the quality of private ambulances. Can we be confident of the same standard of care? Is a technician on a private ambulance as well-trained and experienced as an NHS technician? (Thankfully, 'paramedic' is a protected title, so paramedics on private ambulances should be as qualified as those on NHS ambulances).

As Mary Wakefield reports, a major problem is abuse of the service. Too many people call 999 unnecessarily. There needs to be a vast new public relations campaign to re-educate the public on this issue so that they don’t run ragged a service which is there for all of us in times of true crisis. Paramedics are overworked; they regularly work long shifts without breaks to eat. This isn’t fair or sustainable and it’s dangerous.

The LAS management and politicians urgently need to listen to paramedics and work quickly to improve working conditions in order to halt this exodus of precious staff.

Patronising Better Together Lady 

The Better Together campaign launched their new referendum broadcast on Tuesday with an actress performing a monologue resolving to vote against Scottish independence.

The advert has been rightly derided and attacked by all sides as sexist, patronising and pathetic. The No camp were already running a negative and conservative campaign, but this sinks to a new low. The logic is best summarised as: ‘Thinking is hard. Just vote No.’

This Buzzfeed displays the film and the satirical responses it has provoked.

What were the Better Together campaign thinking?

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Prospect interview with Nick Davies about his new book Hack Attack 

I’ve just finished reading Hack Attack and it has lived up to my high expectations.

It’s a forensic account of how Nick Davies hounded a big story and held his nerve in the face of official denials, vicious attacks and his own stomach-churning anxiety. An inspiration to investigative journalists everywhere.

This Prospect interview gives a good insight into how Nick began his investigations, and how worryingly disappointing the Met police response has been in some quarters.

Here is how Nick summarises the story in his book:

It is about the abuse of power and about the secrets and lies that protect it.

The rogue reporter turned out to be working for a rogue newspaper which, in turn, proved to be part of a rogue corporation.

And yet, while Nick is one of the very best journalists in the business, doggedly pursuing truth and exposing lies and corruption, he is never self-aggrandising:

It’s fair to say that reporting is a great deal easier than most reporters like to pretend. People tell you things; you do your best to check them out; and then you tell a lot of people what you’ve found. There are some hidden subtleties in there and a few simple skills, but generally speaking there is nothing very clever about it.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Watch Paul Mason leaving Gaza 

Paul Mason talks as he is waiting to leave Gaza and walk through the iron doors into Israel.

How do I feel about leaving Gaza with my colleagues and a whole bunch of journalists? Bad, because people can’t escape, they can’t come out.

The worst thing about life in there… is that when you hear a bang half a mile away, the first thing you think is ‘poor them’ and then the next thing you think is ‘lucky me’.