The cropped photo shows, to my own mind, much of which is good with my world. The small fingers which grip my thumb belong to my eldest grandson, and the photo was taken yesterday, when I flew down to meet his Mommy and his Daddy, my eldest son, who is himself still recovering from orthopaedic surgery. My grandson was born prematurely, but with superb care, he thrived; and now he is just another normal three-year-old boy. My day was filled with laughter, with the sounds which can only be heard when innocence speaks; and life was good. My other grandson’s Mommy was in the hospital’s maternity wing up in Durham, where my third grandson was born late in the afternoon; there is a small problem with that tiny life, so the baby unit team has placed a cannula into an exceedingly-small vein, and are sending measured doses of a medication to fight the infection. So there are a few clouds on my horizon, but I am content that all that can be done, is being done; medically, that is.
And that is the basis of my writing today, because while I am content that the Premature Baby Unit in an Orpington Hospital did all that was necessary for my eldest grandson some three years ago, that the infant who is only seeing life for the second day in Durham City will be monitored and cared for as though its life was the only one being checked and monitored; and the care which my eldest son received was of the best, the same cannot be said of hospitals, and the Trusts which control them, all across the United Kingdom. David has written many times of the cynical manner in which the Health budgets in Northen Ireland are routinely utilised as political fodder, of promises made which cannot ever be kept; of the protagonists living in a true ‘Fools Paradise’. That, last, repeated many times over, are the source of the canker which is living just under the surface of many areas of our wonderful National Health Service. The political interference, the intrigues, the refusal to accept that NHS workers should, if found guilty of negligence or worse, should not ever be ‘punished’; but should instead be ‘re-trained’ or ‘given advice and guidance’. They are never sacked, never demoted, never ever, except in a few really-hardline cases, charged and brought before a jury of their peers.
Consider the Mid-Staffordshire Hospital Trust, who looked after the hospitals hit by scandal and death some two years ago. As the Telegraph reported, 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.
Time and time again, where negligence has been proven on almost an industrial scale, no-one gets demoted, no-one gets fined, no-one will even admit responsibility!
I am a man with a fairly short fuse when it comes to another’s actions regarding my health. When I was recovering from major surgery, the worst that I came up against was to ensure that some Scots nurse never came near my wound dressings, as she maybe was well-trained, but had not a clue about the vital ‘care’ sector of a patient’s life.
So I am suggesting that we as a nation consider a short legal reform, especially aimed at workers in the monolithic structures of Health and Social Services.
- All employment contract wording, in the areas of allegations of culpability, malfeasance, neglect or death; or in any case where a patient or patients have suffered even a loss of self-esteem, shall be voided; and replaced with a simple, one clause acknowledgement that the employee, if found complicit in the problems or injuries suffered by a patient, shall be charged and brought before a Court. This complicity will extend to all structures and areas of management. This charge will also apply to those who have left the area where the abuse occurred, but were present and complicit during the abuse. This charge will automatically result in a suspension of all pay and privileges, and if convicted, in addition to any sentence which may ensue, the employee shall be fined all or any of his or her earnings which may be invested, in savings accounts, or any bank; they will forfeit all pension rights, even if some of those rights were gained elsewhere. The employee shall also be barred from any employment within any public sector, and shall be forced to disclose such when applying for any Private sector position.
Such a change would be, in these ‘enlightened’ days, be almost unthinkable, but I feel that only drastic and harsh measures will point the way towards a true reform of our Health Services. Once one or two high-profile people have gone through that particular mill, I reckon there would be a great debate within the Health Service, and with that debate would perhaps come a realisation that the only people who have a ‘right’ within the National Health Service are the patients, and when the upper echelons realise that, we might see a better class within our hospitals and administrative areas!