Put Blair and Brown in the dock over C.difficile deaths

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THE blood price paid by the public for the running of the NHS as a business, with the private sector at its centre and not as a service, is now emerging with massive force in the filthy, superbug ridden hospitals that now exist in the UK.

The Private Finance Initiative has brought with it gigantically indebted hospitals, with far fewer beds than the hospitals that they have replaced, and with key services, such as cleansing, privatised by companies that are run to maximise profit.

The drive to break even or even make a profit has resulted in large scale ward closures and bed cuts, the end result being hospitals crammed with beds, all very close to each other, with a huge pressure to discharge patients quickly so that their beds can be rapidly filled by new patients, so as to meet the government’s waiting time targets.

The cuts drive has not only led to massive shortages of routine equipment, it has also led to acute staff shortages, with not enough nurses and midwives at work.

Not only are NHS staff being made redundant, but thousands of just graduated nurses, midwives and even junior doctors cannot find jobs in the NHS.

The end result of Brown and Blair’s permanent revolution in the NHS is the situation at the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS trust where 345 patients have died infected with the C.difficile superbug, where there was even a case of a patient being told to use his bed as his toilet, since there was not enough staff to assist him to the toilet.

The Healthcare Commission found the deaths at Kent’s Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust to be ‘a tragedy’.

Police in Kent, and the Health and Safety Executive are now investigating whether prosecutions should be brought over the deaths during a two-and-a-half-year period.

Such was the situation at the Trust that Nigel Ellis, head of investigations at the Healthcare Commission, commented: ‘The hospital trust didn’t even pick up the first of the two outbreaks. . . wasn’t aware that it was an outbreak at the time.

‘And when the second outbreak came about, they were still not quick enough to act to take the steps that we would consider to be reasonable.’

He said the commission concluded that ‘presumably their priorities were elsewhere’. On short term government contracts to get the job of ‘health reform’ done, the safety of patients was at best a secondary consideration.

The watchdog examined a sample of 50 patients out of a total of 345 to whom various causes of death had been attributed, but who were also known to have had C.difficile, between April 2004 and September 2006.

It concluded that C.difficile was definitely or probably the main cause of death for 90 patients.

The trust’s chief executive resigned last week.

The Healthcare Commission said despite her departure, nothing short of a full review of the trust’s leadership would be appropriate in the circumstances.

However, it suggested that the board’s fixation with meeting financial targets got in the way of making sure safety was a priority.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson said he was shocked by the findings of the report, which he called ‘a scandal’ but denied accusations that the problems were caused by staff being put under pressure to meet government A&E targets.

‘There is no excuse for what happened at this particular trust.’

That’s right there are no excuses. Brown and Blair should face prosecution over the end results of their NHS reforms.

The trade unions must speak up for patients and insist that the health reforms and the drive to privatisation of the NHS must be ended.

The privateers must be kicked out of the NHS, the much needed additional staff must be taken on and the NHS must be saved from the profiteers and be returned to being a first class service.