NHS Complaints – Cost Vs Care

A Worcester patient who was labelled a ‘vexatious complainant’ in response to his complaint against Worcestershire Royal Hospital has the support of the Patients Association, a National Healthcare Charity, who has written to the trust on his behalf.

Surely, a patient who has concerns about his or her treatment should be entitled to canvass that with their MP? Isn’t that a fundamental part of a democratic, rather than a corporate-autocratic, society? Aren’t fundamental issues concerning healthcare provision just the sort problems than an MP is there to assist with?

This is the same NHS who is presently being investigated by Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, in respect of allegations of “gagging” senior employees. Gary Walker, former chief executive of United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust claimed he was gagged, threatened and prevented from raising patient safety concerns and that he was ejected from his job for putting safety before targets.

This news headlined in the same month as the Mid Staffordshire NHS trust inquiry report was published confirming that cultural and management issues had been responsible for unnecessary deaths. The report suggested that causing death or harm to a patient ‘should be an offence’ and a ‘duty of candor’ should be imposed on NHS staff. Further, the report stated that only registered people should care for patients. Did we really need a lengthy and expensive enquiry to tell us that?  Isn’t that self-evident?

As a result of the enquiry an NHS medical director is to investigate hospitals that persistently breach standards of performance and provide practical support for them. But how does this sit with Sir Nicholson’s government imposed target of cutting spending by £20bn between 2011 and 2015. Isn’t there a clear conflict in these objectives?

Isn’t this yet another example of Care Vs Cost? Cost it seems is the more powerful cross party cote winner – or is it? Remember the economic backdrop here is a £12 trillion pound deficit which makes the current Cypriot deficit of £6bm seem like small change!

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