Mid Staffordshire Public Inquiry Report Published

Mid Staffordshire Public Inquiry Report Published

I guess everyone must have heard about the report by now. Many patients were left to die in the most horrendous conditions – and this in NHS hospitals.

In some ways this is far worse that the Dr. Harold Shipman affair. Shipman’s patients died because Shipman sought to steal his patients wealth by killing them and altering their wills in his favour. He had a goal in mind and was determined to achieve it. The real fault in the Shipman affair lay with the inspection and regulation of doctors.

The Mid Staffordshire report found that patients died not because they were killed by a criminal who wished to enrich himself. They died because no one cared enough and the system drowned out those who did. Oh, families and friends cared – and they had a right to expect those paid to care while their loved ones were in hospital would ensure they were safe. But too many doctors and too many nurses did not care; managers did not care; health care assistants did not care; those who were expected to monitor and regulate the service did not care.

Of those, the managers, in fact, must come out reasonably well. Managers are not employed to care; managers are employed to look after the figures and to administrate the system. Managers are expected to try to save money and cut the amount of time and expense doctors and nurses require to do their jobs properly. Managers are tyrants with pens and clipboards, computers and slide rules. Managers manage the system; they are not required to manage patients.

Why did doctors not perform their ward rounds properly? Why did nurses not notice the smell of faeces and vomit? Why did health care assistants not notice that meals were being left or that patients were lying in their own excrement? Because they were expected to manage the system. It’s as if everyone wanted to be a chief, no one was prepared to be an Indian.

Will anyone be prosecuted for allowing this dreadful situation? Can’t imagine it myself. Those in authority will attempt to make this disappear as soon as possible. Politicians will promise that systems will change; professional bodies will say that they will ensure training is improved and unions will continue to whine that it wasn’t the fault of their members. In the end the only change will be that bureaucracy will increase and those responsible for the care of patients will be able to hide even further in the woodpile.

Hospital services under threat

Hospital services under threat

Map of hospitals which are in danger of losing their trauma centres.

Hospital limits number of patients seen in A & E

Hospital limits number of patients seen in A & E

From BBC News:

“The number of patients admitted to an east London hospital A&E unit is to be capped at busy times to improve care.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said the A&E department at Queen’s Hospital, Romford, was providing patients with “unacceptably poor care”.

It comes after inspectors found some A&E patients had to wait up to 11 hours before being transferred to a ward.”

This appalling decision is the result of so many patients visiting Accident and Emergency Departments and while this decision has been made by a hospital in Romford, it could apply to any hospital within the UK.

There have been many calls for patients to visit their own GPs rather than attending hospital but still patients pour into A&E departments in their droves. Why?

One reason must be that the out of hours GP service is so derisory. Patients are visited by doctors who speak little English or who just do not care. I have had the misfortune of needing to call the out-of-hours service on a Friday evening only to be told that I should see my GP on Monday. The next day I collapsed, an ambulance took me straight to hospital and surgeons performed an operation on the Sunday. My family could have saved me time and much agony by calling for an ambulance in the first instance.

It seems that some practising GPs sign on as out-of-hours locums because they can gain a significant amount of extra pay. I know of one GP who chose to give up his practice because he could take home more as an out-of-hours locum. Now, GPs are hardly paid a pittance; they are highly paid yet do no work at nights or at weekends, unless they have signed up for an out-of-hours service.

Sure, doctors train for many years and are expected to make life and death decisions but in my experience UK doctors can miss simple diagnoses that American doctors dare not because they would be sued for millions of dollars. Yet in the UK, the government is continually attempting to further restrict compensation payments rather than improve patient care.

The result of this incompetence on the part of successive governments is that hospital A&E departments are bearing the brunt and will be further forced to restrict the numbers of patients seen. Somehow, I cannot imagine Margaret Thatcher allowing a situation like this to continue. Much as I disliked Thatcher’s policies, she handbagged doctors and forced them to ensure the service to patients improved considerably. It has since deteriorated badly. We no longer have any politicians capable of performing a similar feat. Conviction politics has died and we are left with mediocre tinkerers. And we are all the poorer for it.

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