Our thanks to Alan for this piece published on the BBC website six days ago. He writes:
The piece leads with accusations of sexism:
“GPs Dr Zoe Norris and Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer described how women doctors had been belittled and sexually harassed at British Medical Association events.”
This turn out to consist of being (allegedly) called a “naughty girl” by one member of the BMA.
… and then a list some of accusations they had heard from others. This used to be called gossip, and as is the nature of gossip, can assumed to be exaggerated, or simply invented, unless someone actually make a complaint.
Even recognising the dubious and unreliable nature of the list some of the entries are incredibly trivial in nature:
- two senior union members “braying loudly their guesstimated bra size of a key committee member
- a GP being propositioned after presenting a keynote speech [J4MB: What length of time after a keynote sketch would female doctors deem to be adequate, to be propositioned? Might different female doctors have different ideas? Would the men propositioning them have to be psychic, to guess that length of time in individual cases?]
- an “incessant nudge-nudge, wink-wink more suitably placed within a 1970s Monty Python sketch”. [J4MB: This strikes me as probably being pure invention.]
Dr Norris told the BBC she had lodged a complaint, but was not listened to and left intimidated, before eventually withdrawing it.
Can you imagine having to deal with such a complaint? That the complaint had been called a naught girly once and had heard about lots of (alleged) nasty things happening to other people who had not complained themselves. Naturally those receiving the complaint would see it as less than serious.
This part of the BBC’s story was given more prominence than real concerns about breakdowns in the working relationship between doctors causing genuine safety concerns.
My concern is whether Dr Norris is suitable to be a doctor at all. A doctor needs to be capable of dealing with quite shocking and devastating information and communicating this with patients who may well be upset and react with a bit more than ‘naughty girl’. As the gateway to the services of the NHS they need to stand up for the patients and be an effective advocate for them in getting the best care. Can someone who is so easily deterred and upset really play this role?
Would a man making similar complaints be given anything but deserved derision by the media?
Dr Norris and other similarly fragile professionals need to be told to get a grip and toughen up for their own and their patients’ good.
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