Scary healthcare and uncompromising artists

This week I have been mostly writing about healthcare risk management. No – don’t go! It really is interesting – although it has given me an uncomfortable awareness of all the things that could go wrong when you go into hospital. Wrong site surgery, healthcare-acquired conditions, medication errors, Ebola – I’ve written about them all. The reassuring thing is that admirable efforts are being made to cut the risk to patients, and to learn from errors.

The magazine I edit – Healthcare Risk Management Review – is US-focused, and I’m often reminded of how money-driven the US healthcare system is. We are so lucky in the UK that we are not (yet) at the mercy of health insurance to decide when the pot of money has run dry for life-saving treatments. I really worry, though, about where things are going, and what will ultimately happen to our precious NHS.

A major concern for US healthcare risk managers – and a recurrent theme in the magazine – is decreasing provision for patients with behavioural health issues, and the corresponding rise in people with mental health problems arriving in the ER because they simply have nowhere else to go. This is also a theme in UK healthcare at present, and of all the cuts to healthcare, this is the one that worries me the most. Cruelly, the people it affects can be too unwell or afraid of being stigmatised to fight their corner.

On a lighter note, I have other articles bubbling away: a piece on Welsh painter Peter Morgan, who burst onto the Welsh art scene seemingly from nowhere a few years ago and quickly gathered a loyal band of collectors who are rightly enamoured by his deliciously thick use of paint and his unerring knack for tracking down (and painting) the loveliest old Pembrokeshire houses.

I’m also working on an article about on the late, great Roger Cecil, a Welsh painter who was totally unmotivated by profit and who – in the words of fellow painter Chris Griffin, who is organising an exhibition of Cecil’s work – “was in a sense naïve but also very sophisticated visually. He had outstanding visual intelligence – it’s not that it came easily to him, but he had an uncanny way of dealing with visual images that is quite unique.” The exhibition takes place at Oriel Canfas in Cardiff, from September 12 to October 3. I urge you to visit it.

Interestingly, the exhibition will consist entirely of pieces Cecil gave away for free. He seems to have resisted relying on art for an income: one of the people who has contributed some of Cecil’s work to this exhibition is a man who knew him because they worked together on building sites. It raises some interesting questions: can an artist be truly free if they depend on their art – and the tastes of their buyers – in order to live? Equally, if an artist decides not to enter into the world of commercial art galleries, will they ever be able to afford the time to wholeheartedly pursue their passion?

Other news this week: we went to the Green Man festival, and learnt: (1) Rain remains is a near certainty at festivals in Wales; (2) Eight-year-old boys can rather take over their parents’ festival experience and make the bulk of the trip about inflatable slides, bubble guns and helter skelters; and (3) the Super Furry Animals are still wonderful.

We’re off camping again on Friday so this is a short working week for me. It was lovely to see several of my articles in the latest edition of What’s On in Swansea, which remains as beautifully designed and informative as ever. Next week I’m doing my face-to-face interview with Molly Parkin and – I hope – making progress on the bumper annual edition of Healthcare Risk Management Review.

After that, the family will all be back at school and it will become a little easier to focus on work. Here’s hoping there are plenty more exciting articles on the horizon.

PS. I can’t write a blog post without mentioning food. My favourite find this week is the bottle of Nellie & Joe’s ‘famous’ Key West lime juice brought to me from the US by my lovely friend Mary Bea. Not so long ago I was lucky enough to sample her amazing key lime pie and she assures me that I can achieve something similar using the recipe on the back of my new bottle of lime juice. Interestingly, it also says on the bottle that I can use it as a natural cleanser. I’ll be giving that a go too…

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