Twitter, Stephen Hawking and Brits Enter the Health-Care Debate
The top topic on Twitter right is "welovetheNHS." That stands for "we love the National Health Service," and it's a product of Brits who are tired of hearing the cheap, efficient and universal health-care system smeared in the American debate. Damien G. Walter, for instance, recalls that "I had a brain fever when I was 11. The dr came to our home three days running. No one asked for a penny." Mandy says, "My husband had a heart attack 5 months after we married. NHS surgeon woken in middle of night to do operation, saved his life." Doc Occupant -- a British doctor -- writes that "we understand that some things are too important to be done strictly and solely for profit." You can follow the conversation here.
But the most quietly compelling statement from a British citizen didn't come on Twitter. It came in this morning's Guardian. Columnist Hugh Muir was struck by the editorial in Investor's Business Daily that asserted, "People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the UK, where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless." Muir, like Hawking, is British, and is treated by the NHS. So he called Hawking for his reaction.
We say his life is far from worthless, as they do at Addenbrooke's hospital, Cambridge, where Professor Hawking, who has motor neurone disease, was treated for chest problems in April. As indeed does he. "I wouldn't be here today if it were not for the NHS," he told us. "I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived." Something here is worthless. And it's not him.
Investor's Business Daily, incidentally, has now deleted the offending line from their editorial and published a correction. "This version corrects the original editorial which implied that physicist Stephen Hawking, a professor at the University of Cambridge, did not live in the UK," reads the addendum.
But that's not a correction at all. IBD never claimed that Hawking didn't live in the UK. It claimed that the NHS would judge him worthless and leave him to die. That was what was wrong. And that has not been corrected by the IBD -- which says a lot about how much trust readers should place in their work. Instead, it has been corrected by Hawking himself. And these many, many, many tweets. How strange that we can get better and more accurate information about international health systems from Twitter than from many of our major media outlets.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Richard Pohle/PA.
Posted by: umesh409 | August 12, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: KathyF | August 12, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: windshouter | August 12, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: PatS2 | August 12, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: adagio847 | August 12, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: theorajones1 | August 12, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Parax | August 12, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: TomJ3 | August 12, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: FantasticTeeth | August 13, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: msoja | August 19, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.