Sunday, November 07, 2010

health care less

The fifth enquiry into what happened at Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2008 starts tomorrow. The previous four achieved very little and, even though this one is at last public, nobody is raising hopes too high that it will be much different, apart from pointing some blame at former management and concluding that the NHS must do better in the future. It is being led by the man who chaired the first and fourth inquiries, which immediately begs the question as to whether a completely new face would be better.

It has taken too long to get to this stage, mainly because the Labour government refused to have a public inquiry, and good advice would be not to hold your breath for a just outcome. Nobody disputes that there were hundreds of avoidable deaths and that patients were left lying dirty, untreated and uncared for. Others were mis-diagnosed and discharged with fatal consequences.

Everybody who uses the NHS should be alarmed and demand that the truth is finally told. It will be unsatisfactory if the fingers are pointed at just a few people, probably managers and administrators. Every member of staff who dealt with patients must have seen and contributed to what was going on and all of them, including the most senior doctors, consultants, and nurses share the guilt.

One of the excuses already stated, and there will be more, is that they were too focused on reaching their targets and so ignored other duties. What perversity is it that results in the setting of targets for a hospital that are mutually exclusive to basic patient care and proper medical treatment? Keep an eye on this inquiry; a whitewash would be bad news for all of us.



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