16 February 2008

Government Blackberries directing EHA media work?

Eastern Health Authority's (EHA)willingness to get past the "peer review" fiasco lasted less than 24 hours apparently.

Discussing Eastern's plan to make public the two reports next week, get a load of these comments:

Louise Jones, the interim chief executive officer of Eastern Health, said Friday that despite Dymond's ruling, the authority maintains that its position was correct.

"We believe that this was peer review. We believe that they were set up under the Evidence Act," Jones said. "We told the peer reviewers and we told our physicians and our staff that that was the case."

There are some obvious problems with Jones comments: one factual, one strategic.

First, there's the matter of fact.

That was decided by Mr. Justice Wayne Dymond:

[122]   The Court finds that based on the evidence presented and the arguments set forward in counsel’s brief that the four Reports prepared by the internal reviewers are not Peer Review Reports or Quality Assurance Reports and are therefore not protected by s. 8.1 of the Evidence Act. They are not protected by the Wigmore Principles as set out above for reasons as stated.

We'll give you the full decision later today, but for now just take that simple statement.  There's no question:  the reports are not peer reviews. 


End of discussion. 

The reason the medical association is comfortable with the decision is that it was based on a finding of fact - not of the law and the Evidence Act - that reports were most emphatically not peer reviews.

And to make it even more plain, let's all recall that the Eastern health official who set the damn things up testified under oath in a court of law, subject to penalties for telling lies that he never considered the reports to be peer reviews.

There is absolutely no value, legal or otherwise, of maintaining this position.


There is no value in taking the position that "I don't care what the judge said.  We were right all along."

That's the second problem here.  Aside from the matter of fact having been settled, Jones comments repeat the public relations mistake inherent in the whole thing in the first place. 

The faux magnanimity of the release issued on the day of the decision was at least magnanimous:  let's get past this and move on in the wider public good.

These comments sound suspiciously familiar.

Do we know anyone else who is fond of saying that sort of thing?  Sorta like:  I don't care that the judge ruled against me - for the umpteenth time - I know I was right all along.


Who might say something like that?

Did she say Dymond got up on the wrong side of the bed?

Okay. You're getting the point.

Dymond's comments are so overwhelmingly similar to a classic Danny Williams line that it would hard to believe the two lines didn't come from the same place or from the same inspiration. 

There's been a detectible change in Eastern's media work since Christmas, starting with the sudden appearance of Jones on Open Line.  She did an appalling job of defending this whole legal appeal in the first place, but the fact was she was there, taking the heat off the minister - Ross Wiseman - to whom media had started directing questions on the whole matter.

Uncomfortable spot for Wiseman and the whole provincial cabinet.

This would be Ross Wiseman who has the power to order Eastern Health to do things when it suits his political purposes - i.e. Fred Kasirye - and to crow about it all the while in public.  But then in other cases, he becomes but the humble slave of the people with the real decision-making power, those at Eastern Health.  That would be like this one say.

You see Wiseman could look like the Protector of the Public on Kasirye.  Even if, as it turned out, the review didn't turn up anything in public that looked abnormal, the guy was shot, in public for the optics of it.  He couldn't have been any more expendable if he was wearing a red shirt on a landing party standing right next to Jim Kirk.

On the breast thingy, leaving aside Wiseman's eventual testimony, this one is pretty much a political loser and the Blackberries in the administration wouldn't want him anywhere near that.  They could even have little stickers across the top of the screen to remind the thumbs that  "The buck stops somewhere else" but that's another story.

There's been such a change in Eastern Health's media work just in the past few weeks you'd almost think there was some direct connection between the two.  Almost like there was a direct connection between the top and EHA. A two degrees of separation kinda connection.

if that's true, then it isn't good.

The Blackberries aren't that good when it comes to media relations in a crisis. 

Happy, happy crappy is their forte. 

Stinky messes?

The crap lands somewhere else.

Only problem is that five years in, the Blackberries haven't figured out yet that the smell they are getting is coming from their own shoes.