MID-STAFFS: How New Labour chopped down the NHS in the penalty area

Into the dying stages of ‘our’ NHS: more political football to come

Two sets of dissembling hypocrites are busily fighting over a dying patient this morning. I make no apologies for reminding people that The Slog saw this Cameron/Hunt/Lansley strategy of faint praise for the NHS coming a mile off. I also feel vindicated by having blogged (as notbornyesterday) how the irrepressibly two-faced Andy Burnham signed off mid-Staffs as an NHS Trust while a Minister at the DfH. But the simple conclusion is there for all to see: the Mid Staffs disaster is and always will be the New Labour donuffins hacking down goal-poacher Hunt in the penalty area. They have thus wastefully given The Privatisers’ XI a free penalty kick….which the Telegraph has already stepped up to take this morning.

Those who spent fifteen years mincing about while the town of Stafford turned from being a condemnation of Blairite social ideas into a cultural meltdown (with a cynical, ethically arid hospital cover-up at the centre of it) can now sit back in their comfy Lords seats and look on disapprovingly – as Camerlot continues its policy of feeding the media, day in day out, a diet of pretend concern to disguise its agenda of insolvency followed by sell-off. A little bit of apparent moral bankruptcy along the way is adding a powerful dimension to the financial one. But Stafford is the product of Balls, Harman, Burnham and Mandelson, not the NHS.

If you want to log the Hunt strategy in detail, go to his Twitter page and marvel at Alice’s sick-bag in action. I’ve posted on this before, but here are some recent efforts where I’ve italicised the ice-pick in each case. Be near to a loo-bowl when you read the first one:

Moving words by PM on Mid-Staffs tragedy – my challenge is 2 be able 2 look Stafford families in eye & say I’ve turned words into action

Good to see so many at Parliamentary reception on dementia. Real momentum for improving care for those who need it.

Over 1million COPD, 1m kidney disease, 800k diabetes cases still go undiagnosed. Good meeting today discussing how primary care can help.

After so long, digital records will become a reality #digitalnhs we still need to go further and faster

Good discussion@clarercgp&Dr Cartmell to identify 400,000people with undiagnosed dementia, we are failing them when they need help the most

On and on it goes…and that’s just one four-day period. “I Jeremy am rushing from fire to fire helping protect the poor, sick and old from a heap of dysfunctional crap. Vote for me and PPP!”

Mr Rhyming-Slange is an incorrigible and amoral propagandist for those he represents via his family colleague Ginny Frunt-Bottomley. But New Labour and every dimension of its empty media rhetoric gave him the chance: they have only themselves to blame.

For too long since then, the ‘Hands off our NHS’ diehards have preferred sloganising to suggesting something better. This typifies one of the worst features of the Left: the use of hopeless causes to create political media stories….at the expense of the citizen-user. What we have in Britain today is two alternative policies on public health provision: braindead Tory polemicists mad-keen to create the American health-failure here…and backwards facing Labour representing Union interests. The patients figure nowhere in any of it. It is an allegorical lesson about the hardened arteries of our political system.

Related: How the mutual opportunity for the NHS has been ignored

46 thoughts on “MID-STAFFS: How New Labour chopped down the NHS in the penalty area

  1. Some of us who were abused and assaulted at Stafford Hospital were blocked from giving evidence. I was assaulted in front of a large number of witnesses and I was told by Robert Francis that my case was “not cost effective”. On the first day he had said no stone would be left unturned, but it was. I didnt go to many of the sessions, because I felt so cold shouldered and not wanted there by Christine Dalziel it really upset me, she wouldn’t let me access Cure the NHS, I dont know why, but I had a lot of abuse on my blog about that time, anonymous people telling me I was a pathetic waste of space. I had ended up in Stafford Hospital after I had been sent for child abuse “therapy” at one of the places I was abused at as a child (St Georges Psychiatric Hospital) which caused me to have a massive panic attack on the way home and I collapsed and my body went all numb.
    One of the days I remember at the investigation a man had drawn a diagram of Stafford Hospital and all the quangos that were involved in it, I remember the actual hospital and care for patients being very tiny and a massive big load of quangos with funny jargon names surrounding it.

  2. Another thing is that Cure the NHS went into a room at the Riverside Council House centre where the investigation was, when I went into the room because I wanted to talk to Julie Bailey I felt really horrible like I wasn’t wanted there, and Christine Dalziel was manning the Cure the NHS phones, I wanted to tell Julie Bailey something and come to the meetings and she told me you have to be a member, and it made me feel horrible.

  3. I think the malaise goes back a long way. The curse of what might be called “managerialism” is long established. Back in the early Seventies, I remember a senior nurse (deputy matron) sitting at home, surrounded by piles of glossy manuals and folders about the great reorganisation. “I’ve looked everywhere” she said “and can’t find one mention of the patients”
    With every new government there have been similar massive reorganisations to which are now added the highly inefficient, easily corruptible processes of Private Finance Initiatives and Public Private Partnerships.

    In spite of this, some hospitals still manage to do a good job. The Derby Royal is excellent but I minister at a Church in Staffordshire where the congregation tell a very different story of callous and in humane treatment.

    I think the service took a wrong turning when doctors were excluded from management – rather like putting a civil service bean counter in command of an army rather than a general – and then complicating things further by bringing in shoals of phoney management consultants.

    In spite of the system, leadership in some places continues to deliver decent care.

  4. It is interesting to see how the Guardian considers Gove’s re-tinkering with GCSEs as far more important than the deaths of 1,200 people at Mid Staffs (and BTW much much more important than the Fernbridge arrests). After her useless waffle on Question Time, Zoe Williams writes an article about the numerous examples of the failings of ‘contracting-out’ without once considering the failings of ‘contracting-in’, as exemplified by Mid Staffs. Had over a 1000 people died in a private hospital through neglect or worse, the Guardian would have led on the story for weeks. Presumably the Guardian’s editor knows who forms his core readership: public sector bosses and union members and quangocrats. I would recommend this article in the Telegraph (do not be put off by the author of the article, I suspect it was ghost-written):

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9852897/Mid-Staffs-NHS-trust-Why-is-nobody-being-punished-for-this-disaster.html

    It is right to distrust the Telegraph’s motives and to check their assertions, but those considerations do not automatically make their criticisms invalid.

    • What about that scumbag Sir Nicholson who was in charge of Mid Staffs and is now CEO of the NHS. Of course, Cameron has full confidence in this criminal! That’s the problem with this country and its bureaucracy: no accountability, ever, the Peter Principle rules. At worst, early retirement with a gold plated pension.

      • This man looks like a really nasty Soviet style apparatchik, a total (Labour) party stooge, completely heartless and without any kind of concious or shame. This man ought to burn in hell for the misery and suffering he has inflicted on the poor people of Staffordshire.

  5. From Zoompad: “…. a man had drawn a diagram of Stafford Hospital and all the quangos that were involved in it …… a massive big load of quangos with funny jargon names surrounding it.”

    Therein lies the problem. Why do people refuse to see or understand reality? Bureaucracy is a necessary evil in some respects but the purpose of bureaucracy is to eliminate independence, to stifle initiative and innovation, to ensure conformity. That is its fundamental purpose, which has been shown to hold sway for an average of 18 months after its inception. Thereafter the fundamental purpose becomes protecting the bureaucracy itself and increasing its scope, power and influence. And doesn’t that point resonate in the face of Sheffield et al? Bureaucracy should never, ever be more than a support/informational service and never, ever be given decision making powers unless you want the above.

    The other love of government, financial management, is another thing that should never be more than a support/informational service. I recall a little story that epitomised the Thatcherite love for putting accountants in charge. You tell your accountant you want to replace your machinery. “Don’t be silly,” they say, “what you have is performing well, profits are high, you’ll only waste your money.” Three years later your machines start breaking down, you call in the accountant again, insisting that the machines must now be replaced. “Don’t be silly,” they say, “you aren’t making any money and can’t afford to do it now, you should have done it three years ago.”

    • Peter C,

      Brilliant observation re bureaucracy. Its endemic throughout most large private industry now, and is crucifying it, just like the NHS. I came to the conclusion about 10 years ago, that this was more than just a cultural change, but a deliberate take down and destruction of everything that worked, and its being done from the highest extremely well paid levels. They are like a mafia clan, going from one well run company to another, destroying everything in their wake. After complete failure, they are then terminated with a massive pay-off from the carcass of whatever is left. They then move onto their next victim.

      Choose any of multiple conspiracy theories, of where this destructive evil has originated from, or just go with the general acceptance of that is just the way it is, and nothing can be done about it. I tried, but couldn’t fight it. It was far more powerful than me. I just had to get out of its way. Screaming at it had no effect.

      Tony

  6. Pingback: John Ward – Mid-Staffs : How New Labour Chopped Down The NHS In The Penalty Area – 7 February 2013 | Lucas 2012 Infos

  7. Labour introduced a series of targets for hospitals to hit, the most widely known was the A&E wait time.
    For a time at the place I worked it really did work. If a ‘breach’ of the policy was detected the consultant A&E got a kick in the goolies from CEO.

    It then spawned a new profession. ‘Flow Coordinator’ this persons job was to make sure no one over stayed in A&E and they variously wheeled patients to x-ray and back, to a ward -actually a side area of A&E itself, they begged and pleaded on the phone to wards to accept their patients. They blamed the lab for not sending results back in time [that went pear shaped because our system tracked when people were notified] and generally ran around like headless chickens when the place was busy.

    The whole policy became a joke the purpose of which was to circumvent the 4 hour wait. Managers [this of course includes clinicians in management grades, another fact missed by MSM who seem to think hospital managers are just admin staff] were just as complicit because senior managers/division managers would get it in the neck for a ‘breach’ and ruthlessly investigate not because it was bad for a patient but because it was bad for them.

    There is a long standing poor management attitude prevalent in the NHS, it has things like the bottom line as the top line and stasis is better than motion if it brings me to the boss’s attention. They had a penchant for a while of bringing managers in from an industrial/private sector background, the idea being that they would get things moving being generally intolerant of inertia I was one such with an old Background in pathology and a new one in windows systems and data migration. Well I knocked my head against the wall for 8 years and had to go, it was my sanity and health or them. Jumped at a redundancy and left without a backward glance. The whole structure is rotten and is not curable en-mass.

    I think it needs to stay public but needs a new staff system and finance system. The only way is to start again but only employ staff who demonstrate ‘the right attitude’, you don’t want the entrenched administrators and professional NHS managers because they make snails look swift and fleet. The only way to do that it piece by piece replace the existing structure the two systems cannot co-exist in a building.

    end rant…….

  8. It’s the Shock Doctrine in action as applied to public services:
    – serial reorganisations for no other purpose than to introduce chaos
    – internal markets to introduce fake, inefficient competition
    – performance targets to engender the culture of box ticking
    – public-private partnering to ensure the transference of public money into private pockets
    – repeated cuts to defund the organisation
    Each time a new layer of managers and bureaucrats are created plus another quango to collate and monitor the results

    Any health care the citizen might get is in spite of the above, not as a result.
    Like education, health should not be something that politicians can screw up on an ideological whim.

    • This seems to be the most accurate description of what is wrong. When you let managers run public services as if they are a business rather than as a public service (which started with the previous Tory governments, continued apace under New Labour and continues now) then this sort of thing occurs.

      It seems the purpose of the service in question is forgotten.

      Grrrrr!!!!!!!!

      • I accept your point, M. However the problem Thatcher was hoping to sort out was that the public services were not working, like all bureaucracies they were operated in the interests of the bureaucracy, not the public they were supposed to serve, and consequently were not fit for purpose. Some things more obviously than others like the Post Office had good bits like timely, universal letter delivery, but lousy counter service, monopoly on stamps and equipment, six month’s waiting list to get a phone connection unknowing whether it would be a single or party line. Or take British Gas taking out 5 year supply contracts that six months later cost three times the current world gas price.

        So where do we go? Private provision does not work because it produces monopolies and cartels, the whole so hedged about with regulation that it has become an impenetrable bureaucracy in itself with all its failures, no accountability, law to itself and so on, exactly the same reasons public provision failed.

  9. Best thing would be to get politicians out of the whole health system. Why is the comparison always America? why not European countries which have better systems and compete for patients thus putting them first. BTW have a look at a blog called Militant Medical Nurse and compare her experiences with the NHS and America where she is now, I know which I would prefer and this with largely State funded patients, it is not nearly as bad as made out. As long as policians are involved the NHS will always be a football, An insurance based system for those who can afford it, in Germany it used to be above a certain income, below which you paid into to a government system and they also paid for the unemployed etc. I found no waiting tims and all patients are treated the same and have choices of Drs. and hospitals which are not Government run..

  10. I lived in than West Germany for three years, I liked it but couldn’t have settled there too many petty rules and regulations. Unfortunately they seem to have followed me home! The only place in mainland Europe I think I could have settled was Holland.

  11. camerons cronies not convincing at all especially as we know for a fact that during the ‘listening exercise’ he was meeting up with bods from private health intent on making sure the competetion element in the bill..you want choice? its private or die..NHS is not a choice…oh btw the torygraph has been found to be guilty of NHS bashing for ages..by making sure any negative aspect real or made up appears in articles to do with health..

  12. @zoompad i am sorry about your experiences..this abuse has gone on for too long now..it has to be stopped..i dont know if the elm guest house revelations will help . the police have promised us no fear or favour in this investigation..i certainly hope so..we shall see…

    • I’m just waiting to see if the same thing as happened to all the other police investigations into institutional child abuse eg Staffordshire, Haut de la Garenne, Bryn Estyn, Ireland catholic church abuse ect ect ect happens to the Elm House investigation, because so far as I can see lessons have not been learned, even though they always keep saying they will be

  13. “Mr Rhyming-Slange is an incorrigible and amoral propagandist for those he represents via his family colleague Ginny Frunt-Bottomley” yeah JW we know and thats what bothers me him being tied to that family..if it is the case that peter bottomless-pitt is involved at elm guest house,,then will jezza intervene on his behalf and blame game whitewash and trash the enquiry…’those at the top’ and all that….i wonder what you think JW..

  14. For too long since then, the ‘Hands off our NHS’ diehards have preferred sloganising to suggesting something better.
    In all honesty i dont think all protestors are protesting to keep the NHS for the sake of the unions…obviously unions have their interests but the public memeber just want hospitals to do be there for them and to do the job as best as possible..free to the point and all that…

    instead of being nothing more than a revenue stream for corporates ..

  15. NHS has always been a disaster. It is a centralised Stalinist system which has no place in the modern world. Why should the State own and run a hospital ? Cut the crap and answer that simple question. It doesn’t own every field of cabbages, so why hospitals ?

    Perhaps the biggest failure was this silly idea that Nurses were sudo doctors. A distant relative, now dead, went into hospital a few years ago. One thing she was to have was an injection. The Nurse assigned to do this hadn’t got a clue. She did not know how to do an injection properly. You could have asked about ‘race awareness’, or other such bollocks, but not how to give an injection. Perhaps it is time Nurses were made to nurse. And perhaps we need to have someone in charge in a hospital, who runs the place like a Matron. But then again the NHS is the envy of the world and wonderful, so lets not bother.

    • Andy I completely agree with much of what you have said. I really cant understand why we are stuck with this state run health monolith dreamt up in the 1940’s which is the envy of absolutely no one except a bunch of deluded politicians.

      Just imagine for a moment if the state ran a national garage service for the maintenance and care of motor cars. Got a blown headlamp or slipping drive belt? Well we’ll put you on a waiting list and send you a letter for a garage appointment in a couple of years time. We may have to cancel the night before if a more urgent case needs priority treatment such as a slipping clutch. We would however like to emphasise that your vehicle and safety are very important to us etc etc.

    • +1. But then it was wonderful to see the nurses & patients all cavorting around in the olympic opening -mystifying & a bit cringe-making if one reads the daily horror stories on the NHS in the Failygraph, but wonderful all the same. Everyone I know thought so, so they must be right.

    • Andy,

      I disagree. Whilst I haven’t personally used it since around 1960, except extremely occasionally, my personal observation of people I knew exceedingly well, demonstrated on numerous occasions that the NHS was great until around 1980. By 1990, it was starting to fall apart, though some doctors and some hospitals still were quite excellent. By 2000 it was a complete lottery, depending on where you lived. Some of the hospitals in The North of England were still excellent, though Standards in the South were absolutely appalling. Since then, you would stand a much better chance of survival by being treated in a temporary RAMC Military Tent, right next to a Battlefield in a Warzone, than spend any time in an NHS hospital as a patient – though even now, some do survive.

      It wasn’t always like that, and there is no reason in theory or practice, that a publically funded health service, should not produce far better health care than one that is based on private profit.

      Its mainly about culture and attitude, and whether people actually really care, and are prepared to do everything that is required. Now most don’t give a shit, largely because that is they way they themselves are treated.

      Tony

      • Tony even before 1980 the NHS was in trouble. I can remember the Callaghan Labour Government of the late 70’s lurching from crises to crises with the NHS as they struggled with funding and horrendous industrial action following the IMF imposed Government spending cuts.
        It was far better then nothing in 1948 but the world has moved on and its morphed into a horrible heartless inflexible bureaucracy. Parts are still good but many are simply dreadful, your more far likely to die of a hospital acquired infection in the UK then very poor Romania. The politicians need to start with an open mind and have a look around the world to come up with a better alternative model.

  16. sorry but i just got annoyed,,, i was in sainsburys just now buying some food..which is hard as ive not been eating well..i went through auto check out and paid for my stuff,,,then i noticed the free bags are rubbish as they split easily the staff know this,,so i took a stronger bag ..a staff bod came rushing over abnd said ”you got to pay for that bag!”” which meant me putting the bag throught the auto checkout..total sum 10p…being deducted from my debit card,,,,the free bags are know to be pollutants anyway..so i showed them the free bags are rubbish by showing how they split easily and was accused of dleiberatley destroying the bag…by then i felt like telling them to stuff it keep the goods and the money..
    the staff offred to pay for the non free bag making me look like a miser..eventually i found 10p and staff bagged up the stuff..but to be honest its like they will charge for walking around the place before long..

  17. @mark and andy ie the same person…yeah because all of us are miilionaires arent we ? when did healthcare become a product? do you shop around for an emergency services product when you are bleeding to death in ambulance? an NHS hospital saved my live when i was a kid.
    TROLL !!!!

    • So an NHS hospital saved your life. Very good. NHS hospitals have just killed 1200 + people. Cost/benefit analysis suggests. . . .

      Who said anything about healthcare being a product ? But you still fail to answer the question ‘Why does the State need to own a Hospital ?’

      • Well, we never about the people killed by private hospitals – they’re probably better at covering it up…
        My one and only experience of a private hospital was for a wisdom tooth excavation – I got a private room and a cup of tea, but as soon as I regained conciousness was packed off in a taxi with a packet of Tramadol.
        No follow up care and it got infected about three days later. ended up going to the NHS dentist to get it sorted out properly.

    • Bob, I can assure you we are not the same person. Healthcare is a product (whether you like it or not) and of course you cant shop around for an A+E. It doesn’t however mean that an A+E has to be state run on some stupid cripto socialist model invented in 1948. Many other countries around the world run better systems with alternative models.

      I’ll let you get back to your specialist subject of Sainsbury’s plastic bags you seem to be very knowledgeable.

      BTW I don’t think your a TROLL just a little misguided.

      • Mark,
        Mark,

        The problems in the NHS are due to mismanagement and moral decay, and not due to the way it is funded. I believe that healthcare that is free at the point of delivery should be a fundamental human right for all societies, and it generally has been even in quite primative societies. Humans are normally caring and have empathy even for total strangers. They will help and assist freely, even at great danger to themselves, and save lives, without even thinking of payment.

        Just as a point of interest the relatively impoverished and communist Cuba, has a better healthcare system and a longer life expectancy, than the very much richer USA. It is not just me that is saying this but The US National Library of Medicine Institute of Health.

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2315760

        In my view much of Western Medical Care and Support Services such as the Pharmaceutical Industry has become completely corrupted by absolutely enormous amounts of money over the last 30 years, to the complete detriment of ordinary people. But so has almost everything else.

        Tony

      • tonyopmoc,
        The problem with the NHS is simply it doesn’t work and it never has, even in 1948. I do wish that the British People would stop this rosy tinted nonsense and face reality.

        As Mark points out we have ‘some stupid cripto socialist model invented in 1948′ which has failed miserably. It needs radical reform and that means breaking it up. Recently a hospital was closed near me. My family built it: the land was ours. All the great hospitals were built by private wealth and were often charitable foundations. We should never have ‘nationalised’ healthcare: it was a huge mistake. We should return to a more local model and far from abusing private providors actively encourage them.

      • Tony – thanks for the reply but your are slightly misunderstanding me (maybe I am not explaining myself well). I am saying that the present NHS model is completely bust and isn’t working. I am not necessarily calling for a full on US style entirely private system but we do need to take a look around the world at other systems that work much better and if necessary copy what they are doing. Mid Staffs was not a unique NHS horror it was proceeded by a very similar catastrophe at Maidstone hospital in Kent with the superbug outbreak. We just need to unchain ourselves from this 1948 model and dispense with a lot of the sentimental nonsense. Clear headed pragmatism needs to be the order of the day.

  18. I don’t take kindly to free market bootlickers who talk bollocks and pre suppose that everything is merely a product and everything will be better as result because it won’t. Does abuse and failings go on in private sector? Er yeah they deny you care and kick you out if you cant pay up. The free market is a myth its all about jumping on the band wagon and going for what’s popular and makes money. If spam fritters became popular every shop in high street would be selling them each undercutting the other until only one left so it could dominate. Health is not some luxury item you pick pick out of a mail order catalogue. I know the score the why should I pay for an other health education breathing existing. Go live on deserted island and try and sell coconuts to the sea.

    • You are still not answering the question. Lets repeat it -: Why should the State own, staff and run a Hospital ??

      It isn’t that difficult.

      • Andy,

        A State is merely a collection of people, who decide that they want to have a hospital for all whenever it is needed and share the costs by a small charge paid by everyone who is able to work. That way it is available even for babies and children and old people, who cannot themselves contribute, and people who suddenly have an accident, or become ill. In principle it should be far more efficient than a private system set up to maximise profit for its owners.

        The entire point of the hospital is to provide services for those who are in no fit state to pay. The owners of a private system, will be heavily motivated to deny services for the very people who need them, as this will reduce their profit. This is exactly what happens in the USA, with medical bills a major cause of personal bankruptcy.

        Tony

  19. The NHS saved my prematurly born childs life, and also saved my leg when I broke it in three places, for which I am truly grateful, but that doesn’t give them the right to put people on a death plan and slyly murder them by dehydration, and assault mentally ill people as they lie helpless and unable to talk and move their limbs (because of a panic attack that they have themselves induced by either gross stupidity or maliciousness) on a hospital trolly in A and E!

  20. I’m sorry, its off topic but I am seething after reading this. Tom O Carroll is one of them that Mary Whitehouse campaigned against, the way the media treated her was disgusting, they made her out to be a cantankerous old killjoy, she was fighing a paedophile ring, this very same one! http://t.co/4K2jjEzA

  21. Pingback: EU BUDGET DEAL EXCLUSIVE: It won’t make a blind bit of difference | The Slog. 3-D bollocks deconstruction

  22. Maybe I said something wrong, cos my post didn’t get through – I don’t think I used any swear words – or was offensive in any way, and since I posted it, I have had another (she’s beautiful too and comin too)

    …I will try again

    Very recent exhange of text messages between me and our friend – one of the most beautiful nurses in the UK (The UK Government (Mission Impossible in Cheltenham) can give you the full content)

    “You nurses have had a hard time in the news this week. All I can say, is that you saved my life several times when I was a child, and since I have been an adult, you keep sending me to heaven”

    “Where u goin 2nite Lazarus”

    If you want to witness the rest – then it is all in public view. I have no idea what the band are like. Never heard of them…

    But she is coming, and my wife is delighted.

    She loves her too.

    Our Friend works for The UK National Health Service…

    One night she was walking between pubs, and two kids had just had a knife fight…She said EFF OFF. If you Don’t Let Me Save His Life – I Will Have You For Murder….

    She walked into the pub 30 minutes later – and ran upstairs – to clean up – and then just carried on as normal.

    She told me – I just saved a Life.

    I can’t compete with THAT.

    There is no way she made it up.

    Tony

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