As the Guardian reporter who covered the extraordinary letter-writing campaign waged by whistleblower nurse Graham Pink for better staffing levels for care of older people, I was awed by his powers of description. He explained that as a magistrate and former English teacher, “I have some experience in presenting a reasoned, written argument.” His managers, maddened by the impact he made in the media, dismissed his style as “florid”.
This extract from one of his earliest letters, to the chair of his local health authority in 1989, was typically moving: “What has particularly grieved me these last two years is those occasions when a patient is clearly close to death and no relatives are present. The comfort of a held hand, a gently caressed cheek or quiet word at such a time is incalculably unique but, so often, not offered – we do not have the staff. To find that a patient has died in such circumstances, as happened twice last week, causes me profound anguish and I have wept.”