WEST NORFOLK: Campaigner in NHS reform call
A West Norfolk health campaigner has demanded an end to the “pussyfooting” he argues stops officials from being properly held to account.
Dan O’Connor has claimed the investigation into the Stafford Hospital scandal where hundreds of patients died, which reported last week, mirrored his experiences of the inquiry into care at the former Downham Health Centre.
He said: “There are uncanny similarities in the way the NHS has reacted on both occasions.”
Last summer, it emerged that five senior managers, including the former chief executive of the Norfolk Community Health and Care (NCHC) trust, Sheila Adams O’Shea, were to leave their posts over failings in care at the practice between March 2010 and March 2011. The surgery was taken over by Vida Healthcare in April 2011.
Relatives of two former patients of the practice who died during that period, have claimed failings in the care given by locum doctors working at the surgery may have contributed to their deaths.
However, an independent inquiry did not find “definite examples” of incidents when patients had come to harm.
But the review was critical of management and recommended regular reviews of the surgery’s contract, training and supervision for its GPs andfor locums who appeared on an approved list to be used.
At the time, health officials pledged that all the review’s recommendations would be implemented promptly.
But, other than Mrs Adams O’Shea – who had already left her post before the findings of the report into the surgery were made public – no other official has ever been publicly named as being responsible for what went wrong there.
And, following the call by the head of the inquiry into care standards in Staffordshire not to seek scapegoats for what went wrong there, Mr O’Connor feels the time has now come for radical action to shake up the way health services are managed.
He said: “Downham Market Health Centre was a case study of the corporate self protection, and culture of secrecy in the NHS at every level, referred to now in the national media.
“No-one – either in Government or in the organisation itself – seems prepared to take the tough action necessary.
“Instead, we have endless pussyfooting, ‘independent’ enquiries, endless reorganisations, inspectors, tsars, hand-wringing by ministers and useless legislation after the event.
“The vast majority of dedicated, overworked staff get more and more demotivated.
“The rotten apples at higher and top management levels simply get shuffled around at our expense – and people continue to die needlessly.”
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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