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Last updated at 17:37 GMT, Wednesday, 18 November 2009

'Inappropriate' hospital dramas criticised


18 November 2009

A leading hospital manager in the UK has strongly criticised the way that doctors and nurses are portrayed in TV soap operas depicting life in the National Health Service.

Adam Brimelow

Actors in the BBC TV hospital drama, Holby City


Click to hear the report:


Antony Sumara is a renowned NHS troubleshooter. He took over at Mid-Staffordshire earlier this year after the health service regulator exposed appalling failings in care. He's now working with patients' groups and staff to rebuild trust. But he's exasperated over the way health workers are portrayed in programmes like Holby City and Casualty. In an article for the BBC website Scrubbing Up series, he says staff are shown regularly flirting and gossiping while treating patients; eating, drinking and smoking while on duty; and failing to promote good hygiene.

He acknowledges that viewers aren't naive and can separate fact from fiction, but he says these programmes should reflect a real hospital rather than what he calls a 'very blurred reality'.

In response the BBC says the programme makers consult medical experts and take great care to portray medical issues responsibly.

Adam Brimelow, BBC News


Click to hear the vocabulary:


renowned NHS troubleshooter

very well-known person who solves problems in the National Health Service (public health care facilities)

exposed appalling failings in care

found or uncovered very bad behaviour and practices of hospitals and clinics and other places where doctors or nurses work


very frustrated

flirting and gossiping

If you flirt, you chat in a way that makes someone think you like them in a romantic or sexual way. If you gossip, you chat about people's private or personal lives

promote good hygiene

encourage people to keep themselves and their surroundings clean to help stop diseases from spreading


ignorant, stupid or not able to understand

separate fact from fiction

tell the difference between what is based on reality and what is invented or imaginary



blurred reality

(here, TV shows) that have elements of real life along with fantasy, drama or fiction. It can be difficult for some people to know what is factual and what is not in these TV shows

take great care to portray

are very careful about showing

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