DR. MAX PEMBERTON: Never doubt the power of saying “I’m sorry.”

During a visit to Canada last week, the Pope made a historic apology for decades of abuse at Roman Catholic schools. “I humbly beg your forgiveness,” he said to a crowd, referring to the church’s role in Canada’s state-run boarding schools, where thousands of Indigenous children have been abused and died.

The schools were part of Canada’s plan to integrate Indigenous people into Christian society, which the pope called “catastrophic” and destroyed their culture, separated families and marginalized generations.

This was a deeply shameful, appalling part of Church history, and of course an apology will not undo the terrible damage that has been done.

However, I never cease to be amazed at how powerful the word sorry can be. Sometimes it’s the ointment that people need to start healing.

Too often, people feel frustrated and upset about their healthcare treatment, but receive no formal acknowledgment or apology

Too often, people feel frustrated and upset about their healthcare treatment, but receive no formal acknowledgment or apology

A truly heartfelt apology can make all the difference. Apologizing involves admitting a mistake, and it’s not always easy.

Admitting that you did something wrong might be difficult, but it can really have a big impact on the person who feels hurt by your actions. We could all be more apologetic in life and I wish the NHS would take that into special consideration.

Too often, people feel frustrated and upset about their healthcare treatment, but receive no formal acknowledgment or apology.

They write to hospital managers and CEOs and in return they get a raw deal. They’re trying to negotiate grievance procedures of Byzantine complexity when all they really want is an apology.

Over the years, many readers have contacted me to express their frustration and irritation at the way their complaints and legitimate concerns are being blocked by those in power in the NHS. Is it any wonder that when confronted with this, they resort to punitive measures through the courts to seek justice?

Is it really that hard to say sorry? I once worked with a surgeon who operated on a woman. After the operation, she complained of pain and a strange “pulling” in her abdomen. She went to him for a check-up, but he dismissed her concerns and assured her the operation was a success.

dr  Max Pemberton (pictured) says we could all apologize more in life and he wishes the NHS in particular would take that into account

dr Max Pemberton (pictured) says we could all apologize more in life and he wishes the NHS in particular would take that into account

However, one night it got so bad that she went to the emergency room. The surgeon on duty agreed to perform an exploratory surgery to see what was wrong.

As soon as he opened it, the problem was visible to everyone: after the first operation, a swab was left in it, which had severely irritated the surrounding tissue.

There are very strict procedures and protocols in the operating room to ensure this doesn’t happen, but surgeons are only human and even they can make mistakes. Hospital managers and the chief of surgery came down to the ward to try to speak to the patient about what had happened, but she refused to speak to them.

That only made her panic even more. Instead, she insisted on speaking to the surgeon in charge.

The next day he came to the ward. Managers had warned against doing so without legal representation, but he left anyway, arguing he owed it to her to speak to her personally about what had happened. Although he was usually a rather arrogant man, this unexpected display of humility took everyone by surprise.

“I was wrong – she deserves to hear that from me,” he said, his face ashen, and went to her bed.

He apologized profusely to her and told her he would understand if she wanted to file a formal complaint against him.

We all knew this could be very detrimental to his career, but he was wracked with guilt over what had happened.

She looked at him dumbfounded. ‘Why would I want to sue?’ She asked. “It was an honest mistake.”

‘What is it you want?’ he asked her confused.

‘We all make mistakes. you said sorry That was all I wanted’.

Cheers to Julia’s alcohol ban

Julia Bradbury (pictured) has given up drinking after her breast cancer surgery.  She says she is determined to do everything in her power to prevent the cancer from returning

Julia Bradbury (pictured) has given up drinking after her breast cancer surgery. She says she is determined to do everything in her power to prevent the cancer from returning

Julia Bradbury quit drinking after breast cancer surgery The former Countryfile presenter, who had a mastectomy in October, says she is determined to do whatever it takes to keep the cancer from returning. If only more people would do the same. While people recognize that smoking is bad for their health, many still don’t know that other lifestyle factors, such as alcohol and obesity, are also linked to cancer. Too often, however, I see people making the changes after they’ve received a diagnosis, and by that point it’s sometimes too late to undo years of damage. I know that doctors can seem like spoilsports by constantly wagging their fingers at people’s decisions. Life is for living and it’s important to have fun and enjoy oneself, but it’s also important to remember that we nag about living a healthy lifestyle and for good reason we advocate everything in moderation.

  • I’ve noticed stories recently that highlight the backlash against social media stars performing “accidental” acts of kindness towards unknowing strangers and then posting the footage on their social media channels. A woman who was filmed receiving flowers from a stranger spoke afterwards about feeling humiliated and “dehumanized”. She assumed she was chosen because she looked sad and lonely, when in fact she was just enjoying a quiet coffee while shopping. I hate this trend. These are not acts of kindness. Nor are they random. People are chosen to evoke sympathy based on tired, patronizing tropes of the deserving poor or those who seem to be on their luck. It’s exploitation with the sole intention of getting likes and followers and sums up the bland self-promotion that has infected social media.

Doctors are claiming the trend towards testosterone replacement therapy in men is “dangerous,” and they’re seeing more people becoming unwell after taking the steroid to achieve the perfect, toned physique. While we know that women are under pressure because of their body image, we should remember that men are not immune either.

DR MAX PRESCRIBE…

GARDENING

Many general practitioners are now prescribing gardening for depression and anxiety.  Research has shown that it can also reduce the risk of dementia by up to 20 percent

Many general practitioners are now prescribing gardening for depression and anxiety. Research has shown that it can also reduce the risk of dementia by up to 20 percent

We have known about the psychological benefits of gardening for many years. In fact, many family doctors are now prescribing it for depression and anxiety. Recent research shows that gardening, in addition to being a relaxing pastime, can reduce the risk of dementia by up to 20 percent. If you don’t have a garden, contact the National Allotment Society for an allotment (nsalg.org.uk).

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