Thursday, February 25, 2010

Are You Outraged?

I have a shocking and appalling story to share:

Senior Staff at an animal sanctuary where up to 600 Cats and Dogs have died will all escape disciplinary action and legal proceedings.  Even more galling, is that all of the senior staff involved have found lucrative new positions elsewhere, and the Chief Executive walked away with a £200,000 pay off and a pension worth £600k. 

After publication of an independent report the truth of what had been going has finally emerged.  Animals were abused and neglected by staff that were described as hostile.  Animals were left in humiliating and undignified conditions.  The report concludes that the impact on them was "unimaginable".  Many animals were living amongst their own faeces, when their spaces were frequently left in an unclean condition by staff.  There is also an allegation that food was left in sight but out of reach of hungry and ill pets.

The authors of the report investigated the reasons why such poor conditions were allowed to have come about and decided that it was a combination of staff having an uncaring attitude and with managers being in denial about the problems whilst holding their focus on cutting costs and hitting government targets which would have allowed them to operate in a more profitable fashion.  There was said to be a culture of fear and bullying and staff were told openly that if they did not comply with efforts to hit targets they would lose their jobs.

The report itself followed an inquiry chaired by a specialist in criminal negligence, which found 9 of the 11 board members had indeed left their roles; none of them faced any internal disciplinary actions. A review of the accounts reveals the extent of the pay-offs.


Now at this point of the post I need to stop you from reading and make a frank confession.  Everything you have just read is completely false... I made it up for a reason I hope to now make apparent.  Firstly, let me just say that I would consider the above scenario to be an abhorrent situation, one worthy of national news.  Thankfully it is not true.  Secondly I apologise for the deception.  My aim was to evoke an emotional response and to ask you now to consider how you felt when you read the above story.  My guess is that most people would be between angry and outraged.

Now, I am going to lead you to the reason for my deception, and this time it is a real story which I heard about earlier today but have just read the details on tonight on the Daily Telegraphs website.  I link to it, but will reproduce the first few paragraphs below, and invite you to contrast the details to my fictional story above.

Bosses at scandal-hit Stafford Hospital escape scot-free

The senior managers who presided over one of Britain’s worst hospital scandals, in which up to 1,200 patients died, have all escaped being disciplined, it has emerged.

No one on the board at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust has faced censure and all of them were either paid off, walked into another job or allowed to remain in post. The man who ran the hospital trust received a large pay-off despite his part in the scandal.

Martin Yeates, the former chief executive, left the trust “by mutual agreement” with a pay-off of £400,000 and a pension worth £1.27 million, it has been alleged.

The lack of disciplinary action emerged after the publication of a damning report into the treatment of patients between 2005 and 2008.

An independent report commissioned by the Government found that patients were abused and neglected by hostile staff and were left in humiliating and undignified conditions. The impact on them was “unimaginable”, the report said.

Patients, most of whom were treated at the trust’s main hospital in Stafford, were “robbed of their dignity”, left in soiled bedclothes, unwashed and in states of undress in full view of others, it found.

Families of patients had to clean lavatories and public areas themselves, while food and drinks were left out of reach and, it was alleged, patients drank out of vases.

Attitudes of staff were at times “uncaring”. Managers were “in denial” about the problems and were concentrating on cutting costs and hitting targets to achieve foundation trust status, the report said.

There was said to be a culture of fear and bullying with staff concerned they would lose their jobs if targets were not hit.

The report followed an independent inquiry chaired by Robert Francis QC, a specialist in clinical negligence, who has acted in previous high-profile inquiries. It found that 18 of the 22 board members who ran the trust over the period under investigation had now left their roles, with none facing disciplinary action.

Many went on to senior, well-paid lucrative positions elsewhere in the NHS.

Mr Yeates, 51, did not give evidence in person to the inquiry due to ill health and is not thought to be working. The trust’s most recent accounts show that he had built a pension pot worth more than £1.27 million by the time he stepped down, entitling him to annual payments of more than £65,000.

You will probably have noticed that I not only substituted animals for people, but also changed the number of cases and values. 

If you have come this far and I am sure a number of people will not have, you may still be questioning my deception at the beginning.  When I heard a snippet of this news earlier today (and not the full story) it was put to me that if the (real) story had of broken today and had of involved animals instead of real people, this would be on every front page, it would have been addressed in Parliament and we would have all been talking about it at our places of work and in the pubs.  In considering this, I found that even though I too have lost a member of my family, well, let's say lack of due care from a member of NHS staff (went unpunished) and have another loved one who is permanently in the care of NHS staff (most good, some bad) I was a little taken back by the suggestion and found almost immediate agreement that it would indeed be considered a bigger deal, or more shocking if that were the case.

The fact that this will likely be a one or two day story and probably will not stoke a fire under all of us is actually quite telling about how accepting we have become of living in the client state.  It would almost seem immoral to some to even question the behaviour and incompetence of the frontline staff and management of the NHS.  Has the malaise now grown so deep that many of us, even those of us who have been closely affected in the oast cannot find outrage when these appalling situations occur?

Food for thought I felt.


banned said...

Having already read the main Telegraph online story I knew what you were alluding to and was indeed 'outraged'. An amusing take on a disgraceful episode made worse by NHS management providing escape routes for each other.
The press and parliament must not allow these evil people to get away scot free.
I am sure that the good folk of Stafford feel that depensioning these people following public tarring and feathering might go some way to prevent others behaving in a similar disgusting way.
A clear message must be sent to public service managers loud and clear.


Letters From A Tory said...

Excellent post.

For no-one to be blamed is symptomatic of a protect-their-own culture in the public sector that sees incompetent and negligent staff moved into new positions rather than being sacked.

Daniel1979 said...

Banned - I absolutely agree.

LFAT - Thanks very much. It is something that a future Conservative Government needs to address urgently and I think if they actually do get to do some Public Sector "Restructuring" can be taken account of... It will be a hell of a task to change such a deep rooted culture.

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