Just listened to an incredibly great podcast from BBC Sounds here. It’s called First Do No Harm. Part one is called Elaine, Part two is called Rhys. You must listen, it’s about an hour and a half altogether. It is a drama, a radio play, that revolves around a hospital in an unnamed suburban city in the west of England. Elaine’s husband has just died at the hospital of malfeasance, and about 8 others have had family members who also died there. But this is no murder mystery — was it medical error, doctor error, or a system that broke down? The surviving family members start a class action lawsuit.
The first part of the drama is very political and very well done. Journalists call the grieving families money-grubbers, when details of financial settlements are leaked to the press. The meeting with the hospital higher-ups is very believable. Some people want to take the pay outs, but others refuse to settle. Instead they want an inquiry into what is going wrong at the hospital. The famed NHS (National Health Service) seems to be on its last leg — and that’s about to break because of increased privatization of services which is nipping at its heel. It becomes harder to keep the members of the class action group fighting.
The second part Rhys centres around what actually happened in the hospital the night of Elaine’s husband’s death– Rhys is the name of the doctor who was in charge.
While it takes place in today’s England, it is a chilling foreshadow of what can happen in this country — especially in Nova Scotia. The McNeil government shaves dollars and cents from hospital and health care budgets, doesn’t make good on promises, and refuses to hire enough full time career nurses. One theme in the drama is mental illness, the “sectioning” or forced hospitalization of mental patients and the lack of care for them both inside and outside the institution.
If you listen at your computer, you won’t move. If you download the podcast to your smart phone you can listen while walking or on the bus. Go to iTunes and download the podcast BBC’s Drama of the Week.
It’s a reminder of how political and how entertaining (there are some good jokes) radio drama can be.
Of course our CBC does none of the above. The heavy-footed Murdoch mysteries cause fits of yawning; the quick and smart-ass new Street Legal which touches on a serious issue but in a stagey or preachy way — these dramas are almost laughable in comparison to quality, the pacing and the acting on this radio drama.