This morning, the ‘fearless reporter’ who is of course John Humphries, visited a London Hospital, which he described as the recipient of many millions of the cash donated by the taxpayer to the N.H.S., courtesy of the Labour Government. This tour is but one of a series undertaken by the BBC’s Today Programme to elicit, well, what has been achieved after all those billions have been thrown at the National Health Service. He spoke with a patient who had just been issued with a ‘tablet’. So what is amazing about that, you may well ask? Well, it isn’t anything like the millions of other medicinal tablets issued every week throughout British hospitals, it is an solid-state Electronic Diary kept mainly by the patient to record their appreciation of the services given them during their stay, but also to record medication prescribed, any areas which the patient feels are badly performed, unnecessary bureaucracy, lack of cleanliness, things such as that.
Now what is bad about that, you may ask? I would state that the very existence of such devices is but another effect of the target-driven management culture so prevalent in our hospitals today. The ‘Tablets’ will be downloaded to a central computer, shovelled onto spreadsheets which all will then be filed away on yet further hard drives, and then forgotten about. But if there is a query about patient care, or responses are required which have to state statistics on patient care, or if there is a check-up on say, the acceptability of the food served to patients, these facts, or ticks on a box, can then be easily drawn down from their server hiding places, and rolled out to reassure the enquirer or inspector, that in certain weeks, years or days, everything was lovely in the paradise of the NHS. Not many queries from Mr. Humphries on the cost of these tablets, which will possibly turn out to be state-of-the-art P.D.A.’s specially formulated to show all areas of patient satisfaction at a cost of MILLIONS over the hospitals so equipped. What happened to the old-time clipboards, pens and paper? What happened to our god-given ability to open our mouths up and start shouting if something is wrong?
So John Humphries wandered on through the hospital, talking to the new Chief Executive, who strangely enough, in these days of managers and specialist business executives, is a medical man. This C.E.O. rhapsodised on about how the ‘customers’, yes ‘customers’, as he would like to call us bloody patients, are receiving state-of-the-art care throughout our stay in his hospital. How everything was so clean, and updated, and how grateful the N.H.S. was to be able to provide such care to us, the poor bloody clowns who are lying in his beds! The whole tone of this interview was one of ‘everything is okay now, so just relax, and we’ll do the worrying’.
As the rhapsodies chimed on, and I really did feel slightly sick myself, I wondered why Mr. Humphries had not visited Stafford Hospital, and discovered another side to the gleaming ‘Tablet’ vista laid out before him in London. He maybe could have talked to the survivors of a time when over TWELVE HUNDRED people died while the hospital sought and achieved Foundation status with the accompanying millions of pounds which that status ensured! He could maybe have interviewed the families of the patients who lived in their own filth until their friends and families cleaned then up. He might have spoken to the patients who were forced to drink water from flower vases, because the ‘Nurses’ were too busy! He could have interviewed the Trust Board Members who were in office at the time, none of whom have been disciplined or called to account. He might have interviewed all the senior managers and staff who have since moved onwards and upwards, those who presided over this turgid array of filth, disgrace and criminal negligence, and wondered whyNOBODY has been charged, disciplined, paraded before a court or even sacked!
Now that would have been a series of interviews that I would have paid close attention to!
X-posted from A Tangled Web