February 21, 2013

Whitehall complacency at NHS killings

Sue Cameron has produced a nasty, ignorant de haut en bas article for The Telegraph defending Sir David Nicholson's role in charge of the NHS and belittling campaigners who say his head should be one of the first on a pike.

Does Sue Cameron not realise that Sir David was at the local SHA when much of this was happening? That patients were mistreated and wrongly killed on his watch? Not a few, but many. Hundreds at Mid Staffs, probably thousands elsewhere.

Labour may have found him a convenient apparatchik to stop the NHS becoming electorally troublesome during their rule. But they and he had the numbers telling them the killing was happening, and they chose keep a lid on it for electoral reasons.

To be clear, the campaign is not that one man should take all the responsibility. Sue Cameron patronises the campaigners by putting up this straw man. Labour health ministers - who have noticeably cowered away from public debate following the Francis report - also have blood on their hands. And for sure some local staff were also culpable.

If this article is anywhere near true, ministers want to demonstrate some accountability, but they want it from those safely lower down, from the little people. Patronise the campaigners, make an example of some proles, but safeguard the powerful, even though through their policies they have blood on their hands.

Let us hope The Telegraph prints a rebuttal of this ignorant article.


A K Haart said...

I find this story pushes me towards extreme cynicism when it comes to the UK establishment. Like medieval peasants, we just don't seem to count.

James Higham said...

It's astounding and it's not as if no one's saying it - even the Telegraph got into it. It illustrates that there's no way to hold a govt accountable.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Her article was sub-headed (iirc) "Should one man carry the can..."

To which my answer is "why yes, he should - because he was the man in charge.

Those of us who've been in the military, or in genuinely responsible positions in private industry, understand this principle completely, accept it, and live by it.

I used to help run a major chemical manufacturing facility, and we had saying that "you're only as good as your last shift".

Because we were responsible for the plant and our people, and we knew it. Screw up, and your head's on the block, no question.

Why can the public sector not see this?

John Page said...

It's replacing the head honcho they're scared of. Seems there's no obvious candidate and ministers are scared of what might happen under someone new.

But it's safe for them to replace people lower down the organisation because any results from that won't directly impact on ministers. Hence the call for accountability at a lower level.

It's reminiscent of the BBC dictum that "assistant heads shall roll".