Merope Mills

Merope Mills: A Brilliant Interviewee with a Terrible Story

A moving account of the death of a 13-year-old in an NHS hospital aired for 22 minutes on Radio 4’s Today Programme on Monday morning.   The teenager who died was Martha Mills and her mother Merope Mills is spearheading a campaign to change NHS rules so that calling for an urgent second opinion is the right of all patients. A right that has been called Martha’s Rule.

The full version of the interview (as opposed to the clip above) starts one-hour-30-minutes into the show (the 7:30 am slot) and can be found here for the next 28 days.

The first half is an account of the tragedy; a thirteen-year-old girl, in hospital after being injured on a bike ride, caught sepsis and went downhill.  Her parents were at her bedside throughout the final days and constantly sounded the alarm. Despite being in a children’s ward at Kings College Hospital, one of the top London hospitals, the parents were ignored and opportunities to save Martha Mill’s life were repeatedly missed. It is such a calm, vivid account, that the interviewer, Mishal Husain, barely interrupts with a question.

The tragic story makes the call for Martha’s Rule instantly relatable. But what we also hear is a brilliant spokesperson, calmly weaving a personal story that is beyond compelling.

In the second half of the interview, the focus shifts from what happened, to what needs to change. Again, Merope Mills is a superb interviewee. She is working with the Demos Think Tank and it may deserve some of the credit for the detailed work that has been done to prepare for the launch of this campaign. But it could not have found a more articulate champion.

Mills speaks slowly, she uses examples, she provides evidence, she uses the correct names and she lists other places in the world that have the ‘right to a second opinion’. She even has the details of how many calls are made on these systems. And all this is delivered in a way that is slow, deliberate and crystal clear. She is never shrill, although she is often passionate.

I have no way of knowing whether Mills was coached or whether she is naturally highly articulate. But this was a standout ‘performance’ and that, of course, is why she was given a barely interrupted 22 minutes on Radio 4’s Today programme, to make the case for Martha’s Rule.

Photo: From BBC Radio 4, Today Programme

3 replies
  1. Patrick Owen
    Patrick Owen says:

    Feb 14th 1981 as a young teenage boy I was rushed into hospital with blood clots in my leg and a pulmonary embolism. After standard treatment (heparin) I got worse and was in hospital for weeks eventually under morphine. The consultants said I was faking my pain. I was saved my a physio who said I was in serious pain and my father managed to find a consultant from middlesex hospital in London who saved my life. Swindon hospital discharged me in a wheel chair saying I was fine.

    Fight for Martha’s rule as parents must be heard. So sorry to hear this story.

  2. Mr Martin Anderson
    Mr Martin Anderson says:

    I listened to this interview and was completely overwhelmed by Merope Mills dignity, clarity and passion. She showed true leadership. So very impressed. She’s absolutely right, Martha’s Rule must happen and it must be as she says, simple, accessible and widely understood. Thank you Merope.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *