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.


Child Abuse

A new database of children’s hospital visits is to be set up to identify possible child abuse cases. What I would like to know is: will a record be kept of abuse carried out by doctors and nurses?

My concern is not theoretical but based on experience. I had a profoundly brain damaged daughter, Susan. She was the second born of twins. My wife and I were told soon after the birth that she had suffered brain damage cause by the cord being wrapped around her neck. However, our GP at the time wasn’t satisfied with the explanation and we began a judicial review. It turned out that the explanation was a lie; the damage was caused by an injection of a drug to contract my wife’s womb and expel the afterbirth being given by a doctor who did not check her first. Susan was crushed by the sudden contraction. Despite evidence to the contrary, no doctor would agree negligence was a factor. In fact, one ‘expert’ said he had no intention of ruining a young doctor’s career because of an accident. It didn’t matter that a child’s life had been destroyed; for doctors, their careers are more important than a child’s life.

Susan suffered many problems. A recurring theme was severe pain caused by tendons not growing at the same rate as bone growth. She had many operations to cut her tendons. In one instance, at Buckland Hospital, Dover, the surgeon decided an operation was not necessary and instructed a nurse to press down on Susan’s leg. On her return home, Susan wouldn’t stop screaming. We took her back to the hospital where it was found that her femur had been broken by the pressure applied by the nurse. Our complaint resulted in an apology but it was clear the nurse would have been blamed yet she was merely carrying out instructions given to her by a consultant. We took the complaint no further because we didn’t want to see a relatively innocent nurse sacked for a decision caused by an uncaring and pompous consultant. This is the way doctors wriggle out of responsibility. Would a database have recorded the abuse suffered by my daughter? I doubt it.

Susan eventually went into a Home for severely disabled. She died while being fed by a nurse. We later found out that she was the fourth child to die in similar circumstances. The Home was closed and the abuse hushed up. Would those events have been recorded? Again, I somehow doubt it.

How many parents will be blamed for the actions of doctors and nurses? I dread to think.


%d bloggers like this: