All posts by Chloe St John

13 Reasons Why – Review.

 

 

If you haven’t heard of Netflix’s new series 13 Reasons Why, then you’ve probably been living under a rock. The aptly numbered 13-part series tells the story of 17 year old Hannah Baker; a teenage girl who has committed suicide, leaving behind 13 tapes directed at 13 different people, telling them how they contributed to her suicide. Each person must listen to the tapes in consecutive order and not pass them on until they have listened to each one.

The series is based on the Young Adult novel by Jay Asher, yet somehow manages to be embarrassingly out of touch with teenagers. In what world do 17 year olds say ‘FML Forever’ as a friendship catchphrase? Try lowering your age demographic to 7 year olds if you want this to resonate. Not to mention Hannah’s cheesy one-liners: “Once again you and the point are complete strangers” she sasses at Clay, in a laughably out of place Wednesday Adams-ridden tone. Its moments like this when I really can’t help but agree with characters who say that Hannah was a drama Queen.

The series manages to be more of a ‘tour de fail’ than a ‘tour de force’ as it tries to tackle a number of contentious issues such as voyeurism, bullying, rape, sexuality, addiction, suicide, and gun violence. This sickly concoction of tragic topics leaves little room to give each one the attention it deserves and leaves the viewer feeling unsatisfied. The main criticism I have is that the main issue -that of suicide – is robbed of its complexity. The show is based on the premise that other people’s actions can be the cause for suicide and ergo if you are nice to people they won’t have any reason to commit suicide. This message is of course reductive, and untrue. It seems somewhat beyond belief that the show gives not even one nod to mental illness or the word depression.

Indeed, some mental health charities have warned about the show’s misrepresentation of suicide and some schools have even sent letters home warning parents not to let their children watch it. Despite this, the series has worryingly still proven to be hugely popular. Ultimately, 13 Reasons Why falls at the first hurdle because of its simplistic portrayal of suicide and this poor execution of its primary concern makes it a no go for me in terms of TV viewing.

Figures show consultant waiting times on the increase in Northern Ireland

Figures show consultant waiting times on the increase in Northern Ireland

 

Recent figures published by the Department of Health have shown that patients in Northern Ireland are facing increasingly long waiting times for consultant appointments, despite Ministerial targets made last year.

A total of 253,093 patients were waiting for a first outpatient appointment in Northern Ireland as of 31st March 2017, which is almost a 20% increase on last year’s figures.

The Ministerial target set for this year stated that by March 2017, 50% of patients should wait no longer than 9 weeks for a first outpatient appointment, and no patient should wait longer than 52 weeks.

However, this target was not achieved by Northern Ireland as a whole or by an individual HSC Trust, with almost 70% of patients waiting longer than 9 weeks.

Almost two thirds of the 253,093 patients were waiting for a first outpatient appointment in one of the following specialties; Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery; Ear, Nose and Throat; General Surgery; Ophthalmology; Gynaecology; Neurology; and General Medicine.

 

Elaynee Ramsey, 43, from Seahill, Craigavad, said:

“I found a lump inside my mouth and neither my doctor or dentist could work out what it was.”

“Finally, my dentist referred me to an EMT specialist.”

“This was over a six months ago and I still haven’t received so much as a letter to confirm an appointment.”

The 52 week target was also not met by Northern Ireland as a whole, or by an individual HSC Trust, with 21% (53,113) of patients waiting longer than 52 weeks for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment.

Most of the 53,113 patients waiting more than 52 weeks for an such an appointment were in the following specialties: Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery; Ophthalmology; Neurology; Ear, Nose, and Throat, General Medicine; General Surgery, and Urology.

During the quarter ending March 2017, 1,722 patients decided to use the private sector as an alternative. This is more than double the figures from the previous quarter.

Serena Mills, 22, East Belfast, said:

“I was referred to a dermatologist about a mole on my back but the GP said it wasn’t urgent so I just waited.”

“But then I got a smear test and the results came back and I got referred and it was going to take ages so the GP recommended I go private. So I did.”

“The mole thing was about last year and I got seen in about three months, but it was meant to be about six months before I would have been able to get an appointment about the smear results which is why I went private for it.”

A Co. Down GP has spoken out against the excessive waiting times being endured by his patients who are forced to carry on with painful and debilitating conditions:

“This cannot be allowed to go on.”

“GPs are forced to manage patients’ conditions who are waiting a long time to be seen by a consultant.”

“I have seen patients wait a year and a half just to get an appointment with a consultant to have their tonsils assessed, for example, and then after that they have to wait another year for the operation to have them removed.”

“It’s sad that so many GPs have to recommend that patients go private because the waiting times on the NHS are so long.”

In February, the former Health Minister Michelle O’Neill unveiled a plan to address the waiting list crisis, requiring a £31.2 million cash injection.

O’Neill said that she hoped it would mean that by March 2018, no one would wait more than a year for a first hospital appointment or surgery.

The plan has six commitments which encompass a number of actions designed to reform elective care services to meet current and future demand.

A key commitment is to provide assessment, treatment and care to reduce the waiting lists backlog, while continuing the longer term process to transform secondary, primary and community care services

However, given the current political stalemate in Northern Ireland, it is not known if this plan will move forward.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said:

“The plan does not focus solely on hospitals, but takes into account all of our health and social care services working together to transform the delivery of care.

“Parts of this will involve maximising hospital capacity through innovations such as specialist elective care centres for treatment and the further development of ambulatory assessment and treatment centres, but it is also about making better use of the skills of our primary care professionals and doing more outside the hospital setting”.

Belfast Photo Festival 2017 launched

 

 

Belfast Photo festival returns this month and will run from 1-30th June with exhibitions, talks, workshops, masterclasses, tours, portfolio reviews, and screenings taking place across 25 venues within the city.

Launched in 2011, this major photographic event attracts over 80 thousand visitors a year, celebrating some of the finest National and International contemporary photography across 30 museums, galleries and public venues.

Locations include Victoria Square, the Ulster Museum, Writers Square, and St. Anne’s Square.

This year’s festival will explore the theme of sexuality and gender, with highlights including the Ulster Museum exhibition, Fashion – A Matter of Attitude, a talk by Mike Trow, current Picture Editor at Vogue; Juno Calypso’s photographic mission, The Honeymoon Suite; and the return of the Royal Photographic Society’s International Print Exhibition.

We spoke to Festival Director Michael Weir: