Michael Pascoe writes:

In a sidelight of the crisis-in-process
that is the NSW health system, someone isn’t telling the whole truth about a
photograph of a woman with an intravenous drip in Liverpool Hospital’s car
park. The Sunday Telegraph splashed with a “Hospital system in crisis” story:

“A young woman attached to a drip was
forced to lie in a car parked outside a hospital because staff were unable to
provide a bed. The shocking pictures of her plight have
sparked calls for a major overhaul of the NSW health system amid claims
cash-strapped hospitals are struggling to pay their bills.”

It’s the
perfect Sunday paper yarn – and one that seemed to grow online as Premier Dilemma asked for the inevitable report and quotes
from the hospital’s emergency department director seemed to support the story: “The Emergency Director at Liverpool
Hospital, Richard Cracknell, said
the woman had arrived at the hospital amid extreme circumstances, when 13
others had been seeking emergency treatment.”

But
that’s not the way TheSMH
is running it this morning:

Staff at Liverpool Hospital have reacted angrily to suggestions that
seriously ill patients are being left in hospital car parks because of
overcrowding.

A picture published in The
Sunday Telegraph
yesterday of an unnamed woman attached to an intravenous
drip sitting in a car outside Liverpool Hospital’s emergency department was taken out of
context and misinterpreted, said the department’s director, Dr Richard
Cracknell.

The woman was suffering from
standard gastroenteritis, and had been assessed as low priority, he said. After
she was placed on a drip and returned to a waiting room for observation, video
footage showed her leaving without authorisation.

Oh dear
– one newspaper or the other has the drip by the bag, or maybe it is all a
matter of careful interpretation. In the process though, there is one clear
point: The SMH appears to rate the Murdoch press lower than the Dilemma
government.

Peter Fray

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