Last week, I wrote a special report for the Good Health section of the Daily Mail which was definitely a headline grabber. In fact, it was clickbait too when it appeared on the Health channel of MailOnline. As of writing this blog, 407 people have commented on it and it has been shared 617 times.
‘How to survive a heart attack’ exposed the fact that there was a growing gulf between care given to seriously ill patients at special cardiac centres and that given in A&E. The two cases studies were dramatically and poignantly different. One man lived and another man died. As the headline baldy stated: Two men walk into A&E with chest pain – but only one survives. The difference? Their first few minutes in hospital.
But I stand by every word of the story, and the headline too for that matter, which was created by a sub-editor after reading my draft. This story really is as dramatic as we made it sound, and more so. I had no idea when I started researching this story – based on a new report that suggested many NSTEMI heart attack victims were not being offered basic interventions to reduce risk of death, that there was a huge divide between the treatment given to people with ‘major’ heart attacks, as determined by ECG, and ‘ less serious’ heart attacks which were dealt with almost randomly in A&E departments.
So while heart attack rates have doubled since the 1970s, this reflects the introduction of a network of heart attack centres. ‘Walking’ heart attack victims can be left for hours in waiting rooms until their rumbling heart attacks morph into life-threatening emergencies.
The point I am trying to make is that I am now alone as a health journalist who finds splash stories in the reality of healthcare in modern Britain. It is easy to do. I don’t have to elaborate or hype it up – in many cases, it is actually more dramatic than I suggest.
My mantra is find the truth and state it clearly. I’m not going to buy a PR line that doesn’t add up when I have talked to the experts and examined the facts. My readers are too astute for that and so am I.