Thursday, February 25, 2010

Killing Hospital Patients Should Be A Crime

One of the worst scandals to hit the NHS is being brushed under the carpet. The devastating report into the Stafford Hospital disgrace laid bare a decade of New Labour's failure buried in secrecy and half-baked bullshit.

A tick-box and league table obsession and quango crony culture. Trust bosses and quango fat cats allowed to get off scot free. Ministers hiding behind the lame excuse of not being accountable or responsible.

There's something sick about a government which sits back and allows its hospitals to kill patients all in the name of progress.

Up to 1,200 patients at Stafford Hospital died unnecessarily because of appalling care. Up to 1,200 people lost their lives needlessly because the NHS Trust put government targets and cost-cutting ahead of patient care. The damning report on a catalogue of failure and failings of care is horrifying.

The Guardian sums up the horror and the failure: "The report paints a detailed picture of failure, neglect, insensitivity, chronic ineptitude and poor decision-making."

A bullying culture pervaded the hospital in a bid to cut staff and slash costs as hospital bosses struck fear into staff and ignored patients to gain precious trust status. Whistleblowers were silenced as a veil of secrecy surrounded the hospital.

The Orange Party has been disgusted at the sick state of hospitals with Hospitals' Dirty Secrets Uncovered. The dirty underbelly lurking beneath New Labour's shiny new temples to the NHS are laid bare in shocking indictments of patient care riddled with Third World filth and neglect.

Stafford Hospital hit the headlines last year with a Healthcare Commission report claiming patients had been "dying needlessly" and put the number of excess deaths at more than 400.

Now that failure has been exposed in a damning Stafford inquiry, finding that sick and dying patients were 'routinely neglected', subjected to 'inhumane treatment', 'bullying', 'abuse' and 'rudeness' with a management preoccupied with cost-cutting.

Health secretary Burnham trotted out the usual lines saying there could be "no excuses" for the failings. Apologies do nothing for the grief of relatives who have lost loved ones. The failings are the direct result of New Labour's half-baked hospital policies.

The Orange Party noted last March how a lethal legacy of misguided failures is coming back to haunt New Labour's hapless hypocrites.

Spinning the Burnham lie "this was ultimately a local failure" and promising to "learn the lessons" is now common place when ministers try to dig themselves out of a mess of their own making.

Patients were 'routinely neglected' at an NHS hospital where hundreds died in squalor. Yet not a single official has been disciplined. Does Burnham do the honourable thing and quit? No, he orders another useless review.

One look at the Stafford timeline and the Orange Party is sure where the blame lies.

Hospitals are bogged down with a management structure obsessed with targets and obsessed with making ends meet to pay for the legacy of a PFI build and gaining trust status.

An overburdened administrative structure is more bothered about feathering the nests of quango cronies, where the outcome - saving lives and medical care - plays second fiddle to the 'process' of delivery and the tick-box target culture.

Grave lapses in standards of care were highlighted last year year at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust in what families described as "Third World" conditions, with some patients drinking water from vases and lying for hours in soiled bedding.

The sheer scale of problems at Stafford might well have been unique but failures in nursing care and the hospital system are not.

An urgent review of all basic hospital care was demanded way back last August by a leading patient lobby group after a horrifying report report exposed "appalling" NHS standards.

Relatives told the Patients Association how patients, often the elderly, were left lying in faeces and urine and were not helped to eat. The report focused on 16 harrowing accounts of basic nursing and domiciliary care which the association says are just a tip of the iceberg.

But nursing bureaucrats tried to put a lid on it, repeating the bullshit mantra that the report may undermine public confidence in the "world-class" care and dampen staff morale.

Relatives of Stafford hospital patients say many questions still remained unanswered. But ministers have refused calls for a full blown public inquiry.

'Monitoring' the hospital proved meaningless. A primary care trust, strategic health authority and host of patient quangos and agencies failed to picked up problems staring them in the face. Amazingly the trust which runs the hospital climbed up the NHS ratings and was awarded the foundation trust status seal of approval, signed off by Burnham.

Politicians are quick to fall over themselves professing their undying love for the dear old NHS but stifle proper scrutiny over the NHS and health care, leaving the NHS to lose its way.

The NHS may well be "world-class" when it comes to medical treatment but when it comes to standards of care, it's down there with the dross.

Once a byword for "free" medical care for all at the point of delivery, billions of pounds are now squandered on useless PR health puffs and an NHS more akin to a public health education authority rather than a health service treating and caring for people according to their medical needs.

Cash which should be going into patent care is being used to prop up and massage the egos of government ministers and quango cronies playing politics with the NHS and people's lives.

Julie Bailey, whose mother died at the hospital and the founder of the victims' campaign group Cure the NHS, says the secrecy is an insult. The handling of the scandal had been "disgraceful and unacceptable".

Condemning the report as a whitewash and absolutely outrageous she said: "It is time that the public were told the truth about the very large number of excess deaths of patients in NHS care and the very large number of avoidable but deadly errors that occur in NHS hospitals every day."

Top picture: Relatives of patients from Stafford hospital
Bottom insert: Mail

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