Tangled Webs

May 5, 2007

If you think this is just political, stick with it till the end, you may be surprised.

Reading THIS in the Daily Mirror:

DAVID Cameron tried to put a brave face on Tory election results yesterday as his hopes of a landslide failed to materialise.

and THIS in the Soaraway Sun:

DAVID Cameron turned the map blue last night as he showed the Tories are finally back in business. The Conservative leader was celebrating after winning a whopping 875 council seats in the town hall elections.

did make me wonder if the political journalists had been reporting on the same election, though I think the map below probably tells the story (look away if blue isn’t your favourite colour)


And initially I got quite cross, railing internally and occasionally vocally at the Mirror, Guardian, BBC etc.

But consider the following statements:

“I’m afraid you have lung cancer. The prognosis is very bad-most people will live less than a year. The best treaments we have is chemotherapy but that will only add about 8 weeks to your survival time on average (the chemo is a 12 week course) and there is a significant risk of side effects”,


“I’m afraid you have lung cancer. Although some people have bad outcomes, many people now live for 2-3 years after the diagnosis. I would suggest you have some drug treatment (chemotherapy). We know that the majority of people will see improvements in their quality of life and symptoms, and a significant minority (probably 30%) will also get a major response to chemotherapy and will live longer as a result”

I use both these sentences (or at least some variation on them-I probably wouldn’t use the first one as it stands) quite often. I use the first when my assessment is that a given patient is not likely to benefit from treatment-for example if they have other major illesses which increase the risk of side effects from treatment. I use the second when I think that people are likely to benefit. Both are true. Both rely on the same data, but it will not surprise you to hear that recipients of statement 1 rarely ask for chemotherapy whereas recipients of statement 2 rarely decline treatment

So now who’s the spin doctor?



  1. Thanks for the map yes that is rather a lovely shade of blue.I think patients are aware that Doctors are loading the choices for any number of reasons and part of the friction you will get is that knowledge .
    Resources must be allocated everyday because that is reality . The system pretends this isn`t the case and holds out an absurd expectation opften to people with little idea of how money is come by in the first place.

    Tghis alal makes me feel that a paralell Insurance scheme is a better idea

  2. Yes I’m sure thats right-we do load the choices. I hope not for financial reasons for an individual, though they must also play their part

  3. I agree with you on the insurance point, Newmania – what is interesting here is that the Soaraway Sun was so instrumental in installing New Lab; does this really signify the death of ‘the project’ ?

    Or, in the event of a general election victory, will the Tories continue it ?

  4. I also see , incredibly for those of us working in competitive enviroments , Doctors now say treatment has tro be rationed. Obviously , is there any chance of getting any sense applied to the subject now I wonder or will the assumption that people`s incomes are limitelessly available to the government persist

  5. I wondered the same think EK-is Murdoch getting a feeling that the tide is against Labour? He doesn’t like backing losers

  6. Every picture tells a story – and this story has just begun, there will be lots of twists in the forthcoming chapters, let’s hope the Reds get their just deserts ….

  7. I`m not that confident yet Mens Sana . By the way i don`t like this name much , I feel awkward referring to you as MS and Men`s Sauna ,whilst funny ,is a teeny bit irritating after a while .

    Still to late now

  8. Too late I’m afraid. You can always call me M (though not the Glenda Jackson version), but MS is fine. Or even dickhead if you prefer.

    Perhaps like a butterfly I will transmute into a better name

    BTW I’m not at all confident of a general election victory, but I think that in Churchill’s words we may at least have reached the end of the beginning

  9. Yes, I like that Churchill quote. Brown could be a much more formidable leader than we give him credit for. I think he will bring in new faces, I cannot understand why the likes of Beckett and Hewitt are still in office.

  10. P.S. I couldn’t possibly call you dickhead – but I like your sense of humour.

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