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Bureaucrats care for themselves not patients

9th April 2010

Writing in The Telegraph, Andrew Gilligan argues that NHS bureaucrats care for themselves, not the patients.


There are few good arguments against the National Health Service, which effectively makes it politically untouchable.

Yet politics may prove its undoing as political rather than clinical priorities come to the fore.

Dr Kim Holt, a consultant paediatrician at the Haringey child protection clinic which failed to protect Baby Peter, was one of four doctors who wrote to managers warning of a potential disaster because of understaffing.

Yet managers at Great Ormond Street hospital, which employed her, removed Dr Holt from her job and cut staffing levels further. By the time Baby Peter came to the clinic, all four had been removed and the infant was seen by an inexperienced temporary locum who missed his broken back. Two days later, he was dead.

Dr Holt believes if she or an experienced colleague had seen Baby Peter, he would be alive. However, she has still not been allowed back to her post.

Consultant urologist Ramon Niekrash from Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, was suspended after complaining that cost cutting was endangering patient care, while Stafford Hospital staff ‘lived in fear’ of some managers’ styles.

In my encounters as a journalist with the management of the NHS, I have found a secrecy, paranoia and defensiveness which I seldom met as a defence correspondent.

For the first 40 years of the NHS, doctors maybe had too much power, but “the pendulum has swung too far the other way.”

While there are hopeful signs, the NHS is suffering from an especially virulent form of “bureaucratic self-protection.”


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Wednesday 14th April 2010 @ 23:39

All medical staff and people in medical institutions should learn the difference between what they like to call abuse and those who may ask questions require answers pass an opinion.

There should certainly not be violence or violent language but there should also be understanding that patients are usually sick, in pain, worried about themselves or others and frontline troops should learn how to handle people. I had recent experience of having to be distinctly forceful before anyone would deal intelligently with a serious situation.

Running tapes about time lost by late arrivals or non arrivals in past week/month is not user friendly particularly as the patient is expected to accept even delayed first appointments and Consultants cancelling clinics or overbooking because 'well it is school holidays'

This is all evidence of a badly run organization where all feel threatened and misunderstood.

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Article Information

Title: Bureaucrats care for themselves not patients
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 14596
Date Added: 9th Apr 2010


The Telegraph

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