IN Ed Miliband’s bid to “weaponise” the NHS, Labour hit a shocking new low with one of its attack posters.
“Next time, they’ll cut to the bone,” says the slogan over a giant x-ray of a broken leg. Unveiled by Ed Balls and Labour health spokesman Andy Burnham in Harlow, the poster – launched by Labour at the start of the campaign – concludes: “The NHS can’t afford the Tory cuts.”
One Eye reader, a consultant children’s orthopaedic surgeon, was aghast. Accustomed to identifying “the type of injury inflicted on a battered child”, he tells the Eye the poster uses “a radiograph showing a child’s leg that has suffered at least two and probably three fractures that are at different stages of healing. Viewing this, any doctor working in the field will be chilled to the bone, this being an injury pattern most often caused by systematic child abuse (does anyone remember Baby P?)”
The surgeon, who asks not to be identified, was so concerned he set out to establish the provenance of the x-ray “as I hope the injury pattern was recognised. As a doctor I now need to know that the child has been appropriately cared for, or if not report my concerns to child protection services, assuming this is a contemporaneous film of a patient in the UK.”
Later, having got through to someone at Labour party HQ on the telephone, he was assured the image was unlikely to be a current x-ray and was told, variously, that the poster “may be a mock-up” and that in any case would have been “checked by hundreds of people”. So that’s all right then. Compassionate Ed wouldn’t want to weaponise the image of a child whose most prominent injury, the surgeon says, is consistent with having been stamped upon.
“The voice on the phone did not think to ask who I was, even after I explained my concerns, so clearly had no intention of following up. I suspect they really don’t care,” says the surgeon, who was considering voting Labour, but no more. “Were they ignorant or are they just heartless? Either way, I don’t want them running our health service as what is required at every level is to care.”