On Monday October 27th, 2014, the BBC aired a documentary “Baby P: The Untold Story“. The BBC uncovered many flaws in the way the death of Baby P had been investigated: individual staff were scapegoated while the wider “system” was largely unscathed. Great Ormond Street Hospital trust looked at staff performance without taking into account the effects of poor staffing levels. Part of their own report, showing how staff knew they were running a clinically unsafe service, was suppressed and never passed to the Baby P enquiry. Great Ormond Street, according to the programme, placed their own reputation above the need to protect children adequately.
Other scandal investigations into health and social care have been better done. In particular, the Francis Report into mid-Staffs is an incredibly comprehensive three volumes detailing the failure of “culture” in the NHS which could lead staff to place the system above the patients. So damning and so urgent the recommendations, that it is amazing that they have faded so quickly from the top of the political agenda. But perhaps we should not be surprised, because that has been the fate of so many previous reports into NHS scandals. Who now remembers “Sans Everything” or the Ely Hospital Report? Even Winterbourne View is now largely forgotten.
A few days before the BBC programme on Baby P, NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens launched his new five year “forward view”. “The NHS is at a crossroads and needs to change and improve as it moves forward,” said Simon, as he talked about action on four fronts:
1. Do more to tackle the root causes of ill health.
2. Commit to giving patients more control of their own care
3. The NHS must change to meet the needs of a population that lives longer
4. Action needed to develop and deliver the new models of care, local flexibility and more investment in our workforce, technology and innovation.
In these headline topics there is a glaring omission. Why no call for an end to neglect and abuse of patients? Year after year, report after report wearily give us the same picture of particular services which have gone wrong so badly that patients have died from neglect or abuse. Yet this topic never reaches the headlines for action, whether it is managers or politicians who are talking. Why not? We are all against neglect and abuse – so why isn’t it at the very top of the political and health agenda?
This blog is dedicating to exploring why neglect by the NHS is such a neglected topic in the UK today. I shall look at past reports and review solutions which have been suggested. Here we have within a few days two important news stories – what went wrong in the Baby P case and the NHS plans for the future. But nobody out there is making the connection. Why ever not? I shall campaign for action. I welcome your comments in the box below, and offers of support.
“The extent of the failure of the system shown in this report suggests that a fundamental culture change is needed. ” Robert Francis, Mid-Staffs Report, 11.