Holby City's script needed operating on

Now no one expects Holby City to be based on reality - let's face it, it's basically like watching a game of Operation played out on screen - but last night's episode really took the biscuit.

Unfortunately for me, the kids actually went to bed early and I got to switch the television on, just in time for 'The Third Way', in which director of surgery Henrik Hanssen came under fire from management and media alike.

From a patient being admitted to hospital with an angry journalist permanently by his side to a zealous PR following said patient and Hanssen into theatre, the script was fairly laughable from start to finish. Well, when I'd stopped throwing things at the telly and could see through the cracked screen, that is.

From work carried out with NHS Foundation Trusts, the Strategic Health Authority and a private hospital group, I can confidently say that wards do not host last minute press conferences in the middle of the day, patient care, confidentiality and safeguarding being the over-riding priority for those in charge (nb did you see how many mobile phones and cameras were floating around?). Interviews with management and patients are generally structured with participation consent granted by all involved and PRs do not (that I've ever seen) threaten to go to a newspaper's management team because the individual knows the journalist's boss. Maybe the writers are fans of The Thick of It.

Talking of The Thick Of It, although I know some pretty powerful PR people, I've also yet to find one who can call the Health Minister and ask him to pop in at a moment's notice - who would certainly not arrive without his own PR machine and a full briefing to prevent the kind of debacle we saw last night playing out.

It is possible the screen writers were valiantly trying to illustrate the pressures that those in today's changing healthcare environment face, but the hackneyed representation of the relationship between journalists and PRs (and the nature of these roles) totally undermined the whole concept. Policy issues around patient choice will of course continue to dominate the government and media's agenda with no doubt significant tension between the two parties at times, but debate is good - demonising private healthcare can only be bad.

The prognosis for this particular episode? Terminal.