Hospital accused of sexism after praising father for 'manfully' bringing daughter for treatment

'It's assuming that women are there to do the childcare and men will step in when the woman is not available'

Billy and Jo Martin accused Royal Preston Hospital of sexism over the letter
Billy and Jo Martin accused Royal Preston Hospital of sexism over the letter

A hospital has been accused of sexism after praising a father for "manfully" stepping in to take his daughter for an appointment when his wife was ill.

The row erupted over a letter sent to Jo and Billy Martin by a paediatric surgeon who had seen their three-year-old daughter at Royal Preston Hospital.

In the letter, the doctor noted: "Unfortunately, her mum could not be at the clinic visit today as she has not been well and father stepped in manfully."

The couple, from Chorley, Lancashire, claimed the wording of the letter was sexist because it implied "women are there to do the childcare".

Ms Martin, 33, said: "My husband went instead but the consultant did not know that I was the one who was supposed to be taking her.

"As far as he should be concerned fathers and mothers should have equal responsibility for taking their children to hospital appointments."

The freelance typist said she was "shocked" when she read the letter, sent two weeks after the appointment.

"I thought they can't have put that," she added. "It's ridiculous. It is terrible. It's so sexist.

"It's like when people say, 'Dad is babysitting'. No, he's not babysitting if they are his children.

It's assuming that women are there to do the childcare and men will step in when the woman is not available, which is really sexist in my opinion. I don't know what the consultant was thinking.

"We had images of my husband in a superman cape like a hero for taking his daughter to an appointment."

The letter praised Billy Martin for 'manfully' stepping in to take his daughter to hospital

Ms Martin, who has two sons Samuel, six, and George, one, believes if she had taken Jessica herself the letter would not have mentioned her father was not present.

She said: "The consultant is not going to say that I have 'womanfully' taken my daughter to the hospital appointment. There is no chance he would have used that phrase or said that 'mum stepped in'. That would just not be said.

"It made me feel guilty because I hadn't been well and could not attend the appointment and it was like they were pointing it out.

"Then I was thinking, 'Why should I feel guilty?' Her dad has the same amount of responsibility for Jessica as I do."

Web designer Mr Martin, 35, described the wording of the letter as "a bit archaic"

He added: "It was a shock when Jo read it out. It is the strangest of words.

"It's more of a gender stereotypical thought process that went into those words but I don't think it was done on purpose."

Karen Partington, chief executive at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Royal Preston Hospital, said: "We apologise if any offence was taken, that was not the intention.

"Our priority is to provide excellent care with compassion for our patients and make them, and their families, feel as comfortable as possible while they are being treated with us.

"We encourage the family to contact our Customer Care team if they wish to take the matter further."

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