This is a letter sent from the boss of King Edward VII Hospital to the boss of 2Day FM. I’m sure you all know the context.
I am writing to protest in the strongest possible terms about the hoax call made from your radio station, 2Day FM, to this hospital last Tuesday.
King Edward VII’s Hospital cares for sick people, and it was extremely foolish of your presenters even to consider trying to lie their way through to one of our patients, let alone actually make the call.
Then to discover that, not only had this happened, but that the call had been pre-recorded and the decision to transmit approved by your station’s management, was truly appalling.
The immediate consequence of these premeditated and ill-considered actions was the humiliation of two dedicated and caring nurses who were simply doing their job tending to their patients.
The longer term consequence has been reported around the world and is, frankly, tragic beyond words.
I appreciate that you cannot undo the damage which has been done but I would urge you to take steps to ensure that such an incident could never be repeated.
My understanding of this story is that a DJ rang up a hospital, said she was the Queen of England, and asked for confidential patient information and the hospital provided it. By any reasonable standard, the party at fault here is the hospital — the only possible excuse for failing to check that the caller really was the Queen is that the Queen, being merely Kate’s mother in law, is not actually entitled to information about her condition. This attempt to shift the blame to the DJs is pathetic, and astonishingly unhelpful.
If the call had been made by a Guardian journalist investigating data protection standards in high-profile hospitals, nobody would accept even for a second that it was “extremely foolish”, “truly appalling” or “ill-considered”, or that any steps should be taken “to ensure that such an incident could never be repeated” by anyone except the hospital management and the Information Commissioner. I don’t see why it should make any difference that it was made by DJs for a light-hearted chat program. Arguably, it makes it more newsworthy, because the serious journalist would probably have perpetrated a more convincing fraud.
And even if we accept that the DJs fucked up, have we not learned not to hound people with a solid week of international newspaper coverage every time they make a mistake? If one of these DJs is found dead tomorrow then Lord Glenarthur, who wrote this ridiculous letter, must shoulder his share of the blame. Then he should be fired. And if they’re not then he should be fired anyway because of the shameful flouting of data protection laws displayed under his watch and his subsequent failure to accept any responsibility, fix anything or apologise. But so far, there has been no suggestion from anyone in a position of power that the hospital has done anything improper.
The mob, instructed by the print media, has decided who it wants to blame, and now the people who actually should have prevented all of this are using that to get away with it. That is the long-term issue here: tabloid newspapers are apparently in charge of regulating our healthcare system.