Nolan Show admits to bullying Medical team

Miss Fitz wouldnt for a moment suggest that the Nolan show were watching Slugger on this subject, so comments made by Mr Nolan on the show this morning were obviously a matter of sheer coincidence.

I have provided the link, but I have transcribed the comments accurate to the basic meaning intended, I hope:

Decisions are made by doctors every day of every week. Within that decision making has to be the consideration of the probability of success. Ethical decisions have to made in medicine.
We cannot have hosptials and doctors being bullied. Bullied by the media. Bullied by programmes like this when they do not think (the patient) has a good chance of life”

These comments were being made to another father whose child has a condition similar to baby James, and who also want their daughter to travel to Germany for the procedure. The real difficulty for this second family was that they live in the Western Board, and the funding was being debated over there. The dad suggested that they might rent a house in Belfast to obtain a BT address and then apply to the Eastern Board for funding.

I’m trying really hard not to make or encourage moral judgements on the families who are being guided by their expert medical teams, and who would travel the earth for treatment to save the life of their baby. However, I am calling for journalism such as this to be informed, sensible, responsible and cautious.

  • Pete Baker

    Who made the comments you’ve noted, Miss Fitz?
    [I’d prefer not to have to listen to the show 🙂 ]

  • Miss Fitz

    Stephen Nolan made the comments, Pete, sorry that wasnt more clear.

  • Pete Baker

    I thought that was the case, just wanted to be sure, Miss Fitz.

    So, Nolan said that, did he?

    Pity he, or one of his production team, didn’t think about that earlier. But that would have been the informed, sensible, responsible and, I would say, ethical approach to take.

    Perhaps the BBC should review their ethical journalism programmes guidelines? they must have some, surely?

    Not that that absolves the Health Board in the case you highlighted in the previous thread. They, I suspect, could also be accused of bullying the medical team involved.

  • Miss Fitz

    Just on your last point, the Board did little more than provide the money on re-consideration of the case. The medical team probably were subject to similar non clinical, external factors.

    As Nolan said, ethical decisions need to be made and upheld, despite the bullying he admits to having administered.

  • Pete Baker

    According to the BBC report, the Health Board did a little more than that when the BBC contacted them:

    “This morning, the Eastern Health and Social Services Board said if the doctors in the Royal think it appropriate to send little James to Germany for the procedure, they will be prepared to foot the £100,000 bill.”

    It’s a subtle form of pressure.. but it’s still pressure.

    The medical guidelines exist to assist medical teams to make difficult decisions.. if the treatment wouldn’t be available here because of those guidelines.. then it shouldn’t be paid for in a private clinic somewhere else.

  • Brenda

    aw c’on!! The pressure got the child a chance. As I said before the media acting as a pressure group can change things in the interests of one person to help others, which is what we are seeing here. Another family trying to do it, unfortunately I have missed both shows, so I am only going by what you have blogged missfitz.

    Sarah’s law any body?

    I hope the other family rent a house to get the BT address, if that is the only way the system works. Like herceptin it has started a chain reaction.

    Scenario, if the second family do as they say about the BT address, and enough come forward, perhaps it could pressure the health board to provide the procedure and the expertise here, pay a medical team to come and do what they do.

    It could work out in the interests of a lot of children.

  • Pete Baker

    The procedure and the expertise are available, Brenda, that’s not the issue.. it is the medical guidelines which prevent the particular treatment in these circumstances.

    If the guidelines are wrong.. challenge them in court and, if they are wrong, change them. But it doesn’t look as if the guidelines are wrong.

  • esmereldavillalobos

    Nolan did the 9am phone-in on Radio Five Live one Wednesday a couple of months back, standing in for the regular host. It was shortly after the conviction of a nurse for murdering 2 patients with anaesthetic drugs. I listened to the entire sorry hour of medical bashing as I was travelling in my car getting more and more apoplectic as irrelevant callers with various (and no doubt in some cases well founded) grievences against medicine and nursing in general were aired with the usual baiting and hyperbole that this hack specialises in.

    The whole point of the discussion (trust in doctors and nurses and safeguards for patients against rogue elements) was lost in the presenter’s drive to vilify and cause undue apprehension to the general public. This isn’t the first time he has tried to bully in this way.

    I hope the child does well even with the odds stacked against him. I am sure the doctors were acting as the child’s advocate, with his best interests at heart within the guidelines they have to operate by. Doctors and nurses make difficult decisions every day, that’s what we train for. Question & investigate by all means but remember we all live by primum non nocere: first do no harm.

  • caulfield

    Unfortunately this childs chance will be at the expense of someone else. Health funds are limited – £100,000 spent on this means £100,000 less spent on other services and other patients.

  • Yokel of the worst talk show in some time though possibly not his fault hes got support people who are basically up their own arse thinking they are some kind of untouchable warriors for whatever they feel like shooting at of a day. I heard rumors the Beeb in NI were looking to either a) slide him out or b) knock him down a peg or two as he’d (or his crew) had become a bit too big for the old boots.

    The entire technique seems to be ‘say A I Say B…oh look I’m being provocative’. And is there really anything light hearted, I got the blues listening to his BBC stuff and just gave up on it. Never really watched his TV show from beginning to end but his 5 Live stuff is just stinkin. He also seems to do a disproportionate amount of stuff on gay & lesbian issues on 5Live compared to anyone else on the network. Maybe he knows from his NI experience that nothing provides a good punchup better than religious people talking about sin and gay rights activists.

    As for the issue Caulfield is right. The Medical people & adminstrators do have to stand their ground on these issues and stick to the clinical need and where the money is best put line. Hard but necessary

  • Shore Road Resident

    Any rumour that BBC-NI are unhappy with Nolan is unfounded. They’re delighted with him, as well they should be – his show does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s been noticeably crap for the last couple of days since he’s had his tail between his legs so they’ll be egging him on to stir it up again shortly. The man is a broadcasting genius but it is a mistake to think of him as some sort of journalist – he’s an entertainer and a controversialist.

  • Rory

    The man is a broadcasting genius but it is a mistake to think of him as some sort of journalist-he’s an entertainer and a contraversialist.

    Bit like William Joyce, “Lord Haw-Haw”, then or Mark Steyn, the US radio shock-jock. Good to know the BBC is keeping up the standards. And then people have the nerve to moan about the licence fee……

  • SRR:

    “The man is a broadcasting genius…”

    I’m glad someone has turned up for the defence!! Just to add to it, I think both Duffy and Nolan tend to be the fall guys for a wider poverty in our political discourse. There is a responsibility on the serious media and our politicians to get to grips with some of the underlying issues here.

    To an extent Nolan and Duffy are only chipping away at edges left exposed by that poor discourse…

  • Rory

    Or possibly it could be that they are shamelessly exploiting it. Sounds like the old crack dealer’s argument to me. “If they didn’t get it from me, they’d only get it somewhere else and why should I lose out?”

  • esmereldavillalobos

    There is a responsibility on the serious media and our politicians to get to grips with some of the underlying issues here.

    Well at least you don’t take him seriously, Mick but Joe Public might.

  • Yokel

    SRR..genius? Ah come on now, something obviously has you in a good mood but thats over generous heaping of praise with a very large spoon indeed in fact ist a ladle.

    Maybe your sources are better than mine at the Beeb but I’ve seen one news story about said Mr Nolan which good rumor had it was placed by people at the Beeb..and it wasn’t to promote his show..

    I’d agree with you i wouldn’t see him a journo..

  • Shore Road Resident

    Well of course I’m in a good mood, Yokel – our failed statelet has just been recognised in football form by the good people of the Middle East.

    Anyway, I didn’t see the story you’re referring to. Have you got any details?

  • Yokel

    I believe there was story out about Nolan and his apparent weight issues. Rumor had it that that little bit of publicity (about considering stomach stapling surgery) was kicked off by people within the Beeb as a bit of a slap a Nolan. His own jokes aside apparently it really really gets him down. What the logic was picking on that I don’t know but I suppose it makes sense to poke a geezer in his underbelly so to speak. This apology about hassling the NHS may have also been pushed from on high..again a bit of a slap.

    Aye, nice ball that but the cross looks Orange. As the t-shirts say..We Exist

  • Shore Road Resident

    Sounds more like a case of petty rofessional jealousy than a case of reining the man in from on high. The Beeb has quite enough internal disciplinary procedures to bring someone down a peg or two without making fat jokes – and also enough internal disciplinary procedures to get someone sacked for making fat jokes.

  • Jo

    …he also “declared war” on other public servants by highlighting that he would ask members of the public to waive their rights to data protection issues thereby as he saw it, “forcing” public servants to talk about individual cases on air.

    Lovely stuff – manipulating the vulnerable to boost his ratings.

    Thankfully, I think legal advice on the possible sanctions of encouraging people to waive their statutory rights won the day.

  • barnshee

    “…he also “declared war” on other public servants by highlighting that he would ask members of the public to waive their rights to data protection issues thereby as he saw it, “forcing” public servants to talk about individual cases on air.

    He is of course entirely right to focus on the unaccountable dross (some 30% 40% 50% ) of public employees whose main function seems to be drawing their salaries. N Ireland is festooned with thousand of useless time serving public emplyees Directors of this and that in Loacl authorities Quangos, Government departments.

    The one thing these and their political masters hate is to be held RESPONSIBLE and ACCOUNTABLE.

    More please Stevie

  • Jo


    Public servants are quite happy to be held acocuntable by Ombudsmen(women) Auditors, and the PAC, not by self-regarding self-aggrandising public servants such as Mr Nolan who, after all, is being paid more handsomely than 95% of public servants – by the licence-payer.

  • Shore Road Resident

    “Public servants are quite happy to be held acocuntable by Ombudsmen(women) Auditors, and the PAC”

    Has anything dumber ever been posted anywhere?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Nolan’s show is shallow in its analysis of issues, at least any time I’ve heard it. Cheap, populist, tabloid, predictable and not in the least shocking.

    At the moment on Radio 5 Live he’s having his balls checked for testicular cancer by a doctor snapping on a rubber glove while Nolan’s moaning uncontrollably like it’s a sexual thrill.

    Raising awareness of a serious issue? Puh-leese. It’s not funny, and the unecessary sensationalism is, frankly, cringeworthy.

    Only Hugo Duncan can make me reach for the ‘off’ switch faster.

  • esmereldavillalobos

    I see the child is going to get his transplant. Good luck to all concerned.