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PHUKET: Recent reports in the British media over the plight of British motorbike crash victim Jacob Tonkin here in Phuket (story here) once again paint the Thai healthcare industry in an unfair light.

Although it is common around the globe, the British tabloids are particularly notorious for running sensationalist headlines that pull at the heartstrings, sometimes without much concern for getting all the facts straight or “getting the other side of the story”.

Even now, it remains unconfirmed whether Mr Tonkin was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash – or if he or his unnamed rider had been drinking alcohol, just to mention a couple of missing facts that are vital to the story.

Mr Tonkin’s sad misfortune certainly provided rich editorial fodder for these outlets, serving up a useful narrative with a host of compelling characters: the young traveller in search of exciting, new experiences; the distraught mom, incapable of helping her son as he lay writhing in agony on a hospital bed half a world away; the wicked driver who hit them, then fled the scene; and the cold, heartless insurance company, whose mindless minions care only about the bottom line and are completely indifferent to human suffering.

Phuket International Hospital (PIH) was correct to call a press conference to set the record straight regarding the case of Mr Tonkin, whose life may well have been saved by the actions of the doctors there.

While much of the ensuing debate in social media focused on Mr Tonkin’s insurance provider and their failure to cover him, there has been far less discussion about how the tabloids misrepresented the actions of PIH medical staff, who deserve credit and not disgrace.

Mr Tonkin is just one of the latest victims of the endless mayhem that exists on Thai roadways, statistically among the most dangerous in the world.

It is fair enough for the British tabloids to harp on the dangers tourists face on Thai roads, but they should be careful not to not misrepresent the way the Thai medical practitioners deal with all the resulting carnage.

This writer can say from first-hand experience that Thai doctors in both the private and government sectors maintain strong medical ethics and still prioritize saving lives over the nasty business of trying to get paid for their often heroic efforts.