Published: 01/09/2005, Volume II5, No. 5971 Page 9
Another week, another round of shocking hospital art blunders.
Whether rare Brazilian rock or a sculpture of TWO FAT MEN, as The Sun shouted, we were treated to another shining example of how facts should never impede a good tabloid headline.
The Sun screamed that managers were 'off their rockers' to install a giant Brazilian pebble sculpture at the entrance to the shiny new University College Hospital, adding the£70,000 spent on the stone was 'an insult to 7/7 victims treated there'.
And if that wasn't enough, the headline on an accompanying story read: '£70,000 could fund three nurses for a year, 7 heart bypasses, 160 courses of breast cancer treatment, 47 cataract ops or this shiny bit of stone (Guess what the NHS spent it on)'.
But what did the paper, and its rivals, reveal after acres of crucifying the 'shamed' hospital trust for their 'sick use of NHS cash' (The Daily Express) on Monolith and Shadow?
You guessed it, that the sculpture was paid for by charitable donations, er, ringfenced for enhancing the hospital environment through art.
Duly following up the bizarre story, HSJ can reveal rumours that the sculpture is providing benefit to the stressed and angry nurses quoted in the press as being outraged at the money spent on the stone.
Apparently the scooped indent in the top makes for rather a handy ashtray for one's quick fag breaks between ward rounds.
Smoke-free NHS trust spends£70,000 on a giant ashtray for staff.
Now That is a story.
As is the£12,000 two fat men on a bench sculpture at Chichester's St Richards Hospital which, The Sun told us, has been placed in the trust's 'anti-obesity clinic for kids'. Does the Royal West Sussex trust know something about tackling childhood obesity that the authors of the white paper Choosing Health do not? I think we should be told.