This is the Eleventh in the Persecution Series, after The Persecution of Heretics,The Persecution of Vulnerable Adults, Harassment from the BBC to GMC, Harassment from Rolf Harris to James Coyne to Doctor Who, Persecution: Black Riders in the Shire, Persecution: Rumbles from Mordor, and fifth in the SUI Cide Series SUI Cide in Betsi, SUI Cide Trick or Treat, The SUI Cide Note, SUI Cide or Homicide.
Fiction has to make sense
Sometimes it can be counter-productive to be an insider in terms of spotting what’s going on. While truth pretty well always has to be stranger than fiction – fiction has to make sense after all – the scenarios covering how and why systems break down whether marriages, companies, political parties or academic groups – where as has so often been noted there is rarely anything much at stake – are the stuff of endless fictions.
There can be a new group of Young Turks who take the helm, who might for instance have once upon a time been trainees of, juniors to, or coached by an Older Guard and these Turks who want to usher in a new and better way to do things see the Older Guard as resisting change. The Old Guard may accuse them of short-sightedly selling the family silverware. The motivation though may not be a new way to do things. Rather some of the new generation may be family members who never felt as loved as the other children and would like nothing more than to see all vestiges of the old home obliterated, whether what replaces it is any better or not.
Or the greatest destruction can come from some of the more mature figures around the place who should, one might have thought, have learned something over a career. But if the older figures have been say late developers, who think their brilliance should have been recognized much earlier while they were otherwise engaged in the Good Life and who enter later life determined to catch up with the Geeks who took the straight and narrow path, far from being mature such individuals can be immensely destructive. It’s almost as though with the waning of the sexual impulses, the pleasure that once came from sex is replaced by the pleasure that can come from the exercise of arbitrary power.
Interpersonal hatred or impersonal evil?
It’s perhaps unfair to single out one political figure and may be entirely unfair to portray this figure in this way but when Rhuhollah Khomenei died many openly voiced the thought “Who would have thought the old man had so much hatred in him”.
Statements like this show little sympathy for the extent to which Khomeini and others might have lost colleagues or loved ones to the Shah and may be an entirely inaccurate description of the key events that drove the Iranian Revolution but they still point to the difficulties in interpreting what has happened. Sometimes when outsiders look at events they see things in a different light to the insiders who may see the operation of larger and more impersonal forces. But it can be just the opposite with the insiders blinded by the visceral effects of interpersonal malice to the larger forces shaping their conflicts.
The Olivieri case
The most striking case of all cases of academic or clinical harassment was the Olivieri case in Toronto. Nancy Olivieri raised concerns about a drug she and others were researching in the hope it might be helpful for thalassemia. She found herself the victim of sustained and increasingly vituperative harassment. Analysing the DNA in saliva on an envelope she was able to track down one of her persecutors – Gideon Koren.
Koren had been one of the initial research team. Was he blinded by the new drug’s possible benefits to overlook emerging hazards? Did he feel she was taking more credit for the research than was warranted? Was the issue just one of local rivalry? Koren later appears to have become a Go-To person for industry when – if the documents are to be believed – they wanted hazards such as birth defects “handled” – was he Pharma’s man then? Did the inner and outer dynamics interact to create this, the most striking case of academic harassment?
Pharma never give up when it comes to the adverse effects of a drug. Thalidomide is still on the market today with its isomers being promoted vigorously and Chemie-Grunenthal still denying responsibility. So too with paroxetine recently reborn as Brisdelle for Hot Flashes. Companies seem compelled to the end of time to try and show that their child was not all bad.
Academic or clinical harassment, like a toxic drug, often goes on forever. The harassers do not give up. They will detract from and malign and attempt to undermine and block for ever.
Over a decade after the initial train-wreck, after she had been vindicated by multiple independent panels, a book, The Drug Trial, appeared which all but portrayed Nancy Olivieri as motivated solely by whether she was having a good hair day in case any photographers might show up.
Does Betsi have a cleavage?
Once an institution sides with one protagonist it seems like nothing will ever lead them to admit their boy might have done wrong. And perhaps in this brave new world of brand recognition, someone in the University of Toronto might believe this approach works – there have after all been a lot more mentions of the U of T than there would have been if the issues had been resolved with decency in the first instance.
Everyone in the situation Nancy Olivieri found herself in, will have the experience I’ve recently had of looking at documents written by people I’ve never met who seem to hate me with a passion. You can only wonder why. What drives such hatred? Have they just been fed a line by people who already do hate me? Is this coming from outside – from pharmaceutical company pressure?
Once the virus takes hold, healthcare and universities institutions seem unable to get to grips with the issues before they spin completely out of control.
In the case of Betsi’s mental health services, there is a history over some years of the Board being fed a line by some of its management staff. The line has consisted of a mixture of wishful thinking, incorrect statements, and invented events. But even when management are shown to be clearly and egregiously wrong, the Board never seems to learn to question the line they are being fed by management.
It has proven impossible in Betsi’s case to find a point of cleavage between management and the Board, or indeed between the Board and Welsh Government which raises questions. Is this Board dysfunctional? Are all Boards dysfunctional? Is this Board part of a “plot”? What are the forces that make it impossible for the Board to save itself by engaging with the issues?
The wild west
Leadership should involve getting people in the same room. But at present in the NHS, problems or conflicts lead to Invited Reviews or External Consultants. This may reduce the perception of conflict of interest. But these external consultants are increasingly likely to be managers who have retired from elsewhere with a trail of accusations behind them who turn to the lucrative business of consulting instead.
Having a bunch of not-very pleasant hired guns like this ride into town and take revenge for being run out of another town feels like the worst of the Wild West.
But this is to traduce the Wild West. Between 1859 and 1900 in the 15 States west of the Missouri-Texas Line it appears there were less than 10 bank robberies. There are now more bank robberies per year in any decent sized American city than there were in the entire frontier period.
Betsi has had more bank robberies – aka invited reviews – since its foundation 5 years ago than there ever were in the Wild West. When things get this bad, every effort by Government or regulators to sort the problem out just seems to create the conditions for more daylight muggings and robberies. This town needs … – well probably not the GMC.