To coincide with his giving this year’s Reith Lectures, I thought I would re-release this interview with Atul Gawande from 2011, in which I spoke to him about The Checklist Manifesto and how something as simple as a checklist could have dramatic, positive benefits in healthcare.
“We have people at the frontline who have great expertise – we couldn’t have people in medicine who are better trained, working harder, or given more technology to get their jobs done – and yet the puzzle is that for many of the steps along the way, such as in surgery, we have seven million people a year globally left disabled or dead through complications. At least half the time, we know that it’s from failures to use knowledge that already exists, steps in care that could have avoided it. And so understanding how we close the gaps, not just of ignorance but, for want of a better word, what we have to call ineptitude, is fundamental.”
In the December edition of Le Monde diplomatique, Rafael Barajas and fellow journalist Pedro Miguel have written about Mexico’s current state of crisis after the disappearance of 43 students from a rural teacher training college in September. It appears that they were handed over by the police to organized criminals who subsequently killed them.
If such horrific things are possible, then President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Mexico has become a terrorist state, Barajas and Miguel argue, concerned principally with defending the interests of those who gain from the multi-billion dollar drugs trade against the people, using violence and intimidation to make the lives of many ordinary Mexicans unbearable. ‘Beheadings’, Rafael told me, ‘have become a part of our daily news. So when I rang him in Mexico City on 25 November, I began by asking why – against this backdrop of violence and brutality – the disappearance of these 43 students had provoked such outrage.
“Following 9/11, the US and then the UK decided to introduce new pieces of legislation which were ostensibly aimed – at least to start with – against terrorism and concerned security. But they rapidly bled into other fields, in particular into the area of immigration. So we saw throughout the first decade of the 21st century a series of new pieces of legislation which restricted access of asylum seekers and changed the way they were handled in the UK, and also restricted access of economic migrants and how they were handled. And in order to enact those changes of legislation, the UK government began to expand its immigration detention estate. And that was the point at which I realized there was a big gap in the academic literature on these institutions and that led me to this project…”
This is the first in a new series of podcasts commissioned by OUP’s law publishing department. My guest is Mary Bosworth, reader in criminology at the university of Oxford and concurrently professor of criminology at Monash University in Australia. Mary has had extensive and unprecedented access to the UK’s immigration detention centres – now renamed immigration removal centres – where she conducted hundreds of face-to-face interviews with detainees and staff. In the post-9/11 world of heightened anxiety and tougher regulation, she’s been pursuing the question – what are these centres for? She’s also tried to capture what life is like for the people who pass through them, to help ground the debate about them in reality rather than polarized political stances. The results of her research are contained in her new book Inside Immigration Detention.