RELATIVES of some of the 400 plus patients who died at the Mid-Staffs NHS Trust were unanimous yesterday about the official, just published report, into the disaster.
They said: ‘It’s a whitewash’, adding that it was the drive to eliminate the £10 million hospital ‘debt’, in order to become a Foundation hospital business, that was responsible for the innocent patients who died as a result of the lack of proper patient care.
To eliminate the debt hundreds of nurses and other vital staff were sacked, resulting in completely unqualified people doing work that they had never been trained to do, and staff who were so overworked that they had no time to care properly for the patients.
The relatives demanded a public inquiry and that Health Secretary Burnham be sacked.
It is clear that the responsibility for the deaths rest with the Blair-Brown governments’ NHS privatisation drive to turn the NHS into a business that had to make a profit, and was organised primarily for that purpose, and not to carry out patient care to the highest standards.
Along with the Foundation Trust businesses that function outside NHS control, came the private sector treatment centres with their block cash payments, and then the private polyclinics, alongside the current programme for the closure of 50 District General Hospitals nationally.
This is the government programme for a health business, not a programme for the establishment of the highest quality patient care.
However, the major health unions yesterday refused to call for the scrapping of the NHS privatisation drive and bringing the Foundation hospitals back under the direct control of the NHS.
Karen Jennings, head of health for Unison, said that ‘The clear lesson from this report is that public protection cannot be delivered by light touch regulation.
‘A lack of regulation led to the banking crisis and it cannot work in a hospital with life or death situations.’
BMA leader, Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the BMA Council, said: ‘The fact that Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust was more focused on meeting government targets, achieving foundation status and saving money, demonstrates very clearly what happens when financial pressures and a tick-box culture are more important than delivering high-quality patient care.’
He did not call for the privatisation drive to be stopped. He did not call for Foundation trusts to be returned to full NHS control and he did not call for the privateers to be shown the door out of the NHS.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown in his statement to the House of Commons sought to dodge government responsibility for the disaster. He said: ‘What happened was a management failure in this hospital.
‘When it comes to Accident and Emergency, I am shocked to find where there should have been four consultants there was only one, and where there should have been 55 nurses there were only 37.’ How does he think that huge NHS ‘savings’ were being made!
Brown said that measures would be put in place ‘where managers fail’, so that, just as with doctors, ‘we will be able to strike off the managers’.
This was however not a management failure but a failure of government policy!
Brown however decided to watch his back by declaring: ‘And we have a statement this morning from the interim chair of the Healthcare Quality Commission saying, we have no reason to believe there is another Trust in England that has problems on the scale and magnitude that existed in Staffordshire.’
Burnham however did indict himself and prove that he should be sacked when he said: ‘The report makes it clear that Mid-Staffordshire has not been deserving of the Foundation Trust status that it has held for the last two years.’
As the demonstrators said, it was he who signed off the Mid-Staffs hospital as a Foundation Trust.
The government is now going to carry on with the same deadly policy. This is why it must be removed and be replaced by a workers government.