The lethal state

How to get away with murder

In whom we trust?In whom we trust?
It was one of those ironic moments, on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, John Humphrys interviewed Mike Farrar, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation on the subject of the Mid Staffordshire Hospital Trust. So one failing organisation up against another. The exact death toll stemming from the breakdown in care at Mid Staffs may never be known, it could be over 1000 lives. And on the other side we have the BBC, employer of Jimmy Savile, although a serial hospital botherer and visitor Savile was not, as far as we know, lethal. Even so, this is hardly a platform upon which to build is it?

Humphrys, in Olympian terms gold, silver and bronze, was very much at the latter level. This was the setting used to interview the inept but now very wealthy George Entwhistle, the ex-head of the BBC. Bronze mode is what a boy might expect from the Deputy Headmaster having been caught doing something anti-social in the school library. So with Humphrys on a low setting Farrar had it easy he ran rings around Humphrys, he was brilliant.

And the reason for this? Well Farrar was well trained in the public servant's art of talking but not saying anything. Also Farrar's penny whistle reedy voice blandly cheeped and wailed while Humphrys sounded more like a bassoonist demonstrating his take on a complex musical score. So just minutes after the interview was over it was impossible to remember anything Farrar had said, he had evaporated like a puddle in the sun.

So much for the 'brilliant BBC' and proof again that there is a so much wrong with public servants. Except that is, their ability not to serve the public yet survive. As might be expected there's an inquiry led by someone from the legal profession. Robert Francis QC has published a report saying -

Medical staff should have a “statutory duty of candour” to disclose any concerns they have following the “shocking” situation that led to the deaths of up to 1,200 patients in two hospitals run by Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust between 2005 and 2009

So what of this report? Following on from the Leveson report into the press it might be best to delay the praise for a while, Leveson because he misunderstood the situation was such a total failure you do wonder if an inquiry into the law led by an anaesthetist is called for! The comment from Francis, ' to disclose any concerns; needs explaining. I suppose you could always disclose the concerns to the police they do seem to be 'on hand' at the Accident and Emergency department and the mortuary .It remains to be seen if staff from Mid Staffordshire Hospital Trust are prosecuted. This may not happen as -

Robert Francis QC insisted that “senior managers should be made accountable”. Yet one of the most striking features of his work was its refusal to blame individuals, on the grounds that what matters is fixing the system, not fixating on particular scapegoats.

So like Leveson Francis wants it both ways. This will not satisfy the public who expect the police, the NHS and the law to work for them. It's a ridiculous situation where Harold Shipman goes to prison but others get away with murder. But on this basis it would appear nothing will be done. As pointed out the truth about Mid Staffs is -

This scandal was uncovered not by a regulator, but by a patient, appalled by the treatment of her 86-year-old mother. She, and all those whose friends and family suffered and died, deserves to know not just what went wrong, but who was responsible.

However, if Francis is anything like Leveson then both the law and bureaucracy will be expanded and the public left out as before, apart from paying for it that is.