The ITV1 drama Mr Bates vs the Post Office has caused a flurry of activity around the Horizon IT system scandal. It has also prompted countless people and campaign groups to reach out to the broadcaster – asking it to create a drama on their individual cause. One such scandal has been that of post-viral illness; a topic which would need an entire season on ITV to properly explore.
So, one campaign group is asking people to join it in a so-called Twitter storm, to call on ITV to pick up theirs, and millions of other peoples’, stories.
Mr Bates vs the Post Office: a real-life drama
As the Canary previously reported, Mr Bates vs the Post Office has brought the ongoing scandal over the Horizon IT system, and Post Office and politicians conduct at the time, back into the public eye. More than 700 people running small local post offices received criminal convictions between 1999 and 2005 after faulty accounting software made it appear that money had gone missing from their branches.
The scandal has been described at an ongoing public inquiry as “the worst miscarriage of justice in recent British legal history”. Now, police are involved, petitions are going viral, and the government is doing further work on compensation and acquittals for the survivors of the scandal.
However, people have not been shy to the fact that a lot of this has come off the back of Mr Bates vs the Post Office. So, they’ve been reaching out to ITV asking it to consider doing similar dramas on other scandals:
Now, a group for people living with chronic illnesses has organised a campaign to see if ITV will consider running a drama on post-viral illnesses. It’s a topic which has repeatedly hit the headlines – but sadly, for all the wrong reasons.
#ExposeMENow ITV, like Mr Bates vs the Post Office
The Chronic Collaboration will be running a Twitter storm from 8pm on Wednesday 10 January:
The group said that:
surely now is the time that the broadcaster (or one of its peers – the BBC or Channel 4 perhaps) picked up the ‘biggest medical scandal of the 21st century’ – the ‘post-viral scandal’? This includes myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME, also known as CFS), Long Covid, and their psychologisation partly thanks to the PACE trial.
We want to start applying pressure to make this happen – or at least be heard.
So, join us during Wednesday 10 January 2024’s ME Awareness Hour (8pm GMT). We want people to tweet at the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4, asking them to #ExposeMENow and run a drama on this scandalous story – telling them why it would be such an important piece of work.
Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, CFS) is a debilitating and poorly-treated chronic, systemic neuroimmune disease that affects every aspect of the patient’s life. You can read more about ME symptoms here. The disease has been at the centre of various scandals for decades. These include medical professionals saying it was a psychological illness – that is, that it’s ‘all in people’s heads’.
Yet countless people have died from the illness. In 2021, Maeve Boothby O’Neill died from severe ME at the age of 27 after the NHS essentially let her starve to death. Doctors denied her a feeding tube, and later denied total parenteral nutrition, which likely would have saved her life. An inquest into Maeve’s situation is ongoing.
Many people develop ME after catching a virus – hence it is sometimes known as a post-viral illness. Then, there’s long Covid – another post-viral illness. It’s similar in some respects to ME – not least being the response from many medical professionals and politicians. Long Covid patients have no treatment options, little support, and no cure. However, the disease is inextricably linked to ME – thanks to how the latter has been treated.
PACE trial and the psychologisation of post-viral illness
For decades – thanks to medical professionals and researchers’ psychologisation of the disease – health services have neglected, mistreated, and gaslighted ME patients. This is partly because of something called PACE trial. It was research that recommended exercise and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for ME. In short, PACE trial was scientific and financial fraud.
The Canary has reported extensively on how:
Overall, PACE Trial was a con to keep ME as a psychological illness, and to deny people benefits and private health insurance. For years, exercise and CBT were recommended treatments for ME.
However, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) updated its guidelines in 2021 to remove or downgrade PACE trial’s harmful and ineffective treatments – those pushed by the same professionals who psychologise the illness. Many people hoped this would be a watershed moment for the community. They hoped patients would start to get the recognition, validation, and support they desperately needed. Sadly, and somewhat predictably, this hasn’t been the case.
The biggest medical scandal of the 21st century
The Canary has been documenting how medical professionals and the NHS are still neglecting people living with ME – to the point where some are so severe they’re dying. We also documented how the NHS is leaving people with long Covid in a similar situation. Moreover, former PM Boris Johnson described long Covid as “bollocks” – partly thanks to how ME has been viewed by professionals.
One MP described the story of ME and PACE trial as:
the biggest medical scandal of the 21st century.
So, while Mr Bates vs the Post Office undoubtedly made the public aware of a horrifying scandal, surely its time that the post-viral scandal was given equal prominence? Millions of people in the UK alone are suffering right now – thanks to fraud, cover ups, cronyism, and political indifference. It sounds like the Post Office scandal – and it’s not really that far removed from it.
So, get involved at 8pm on 10 January via X to tell ITV (or the BBC or Channel 4) to do the right thing and amplify the voices of millions of people, for whom the post-viral scandal is very real, and happening right now.
Featured image via ITV press centre