Dodders, late of the Worsted tendency, chugged on to the Today programme this morning. There was a hiss of steam as the old tank engine settled on its axles. The topic of the moment, aptly enough, was whistle blowing. Dodders and his Health Select Committee have been asked to look into the General Medical Council’s pernicious habit of feeding whistle blowers into the firebox, instead of listening to their concerns. Humph did his best to get up a head of steam. There were shunting noises as Humph and Dodders went back and forth over the rails. But they remained stuck in the sidings, puffing platitudes. Delivering professional obligations, puff. Professionals responsible to their regulator, puff. Much good work being done but still too many examples where standards aren’t being delivered, puff puff!
The Care Quality Commission have reported on Winterbourne View, the rogue hospital exposed in May by Panorama – so that’s alright then, isn’t it, only, of course, it isn’t. The CQC headline, ‘CQC report on Winterbourne View confirms its owners failed to protect people from abuse’ belongs to the ‘report confirms thugs are thugs’ category, and is, as many have observed, a clear case of doors being bolted after horses have fled. No wonder the CGC has been dubbed the ‘Can’t Quite Cope’ commission. The moniker – undoubtedly British Dentistry’s greatest contribution to National Lampoonery – says it all.
The CQC, speaking on R4’s You and Yours, took the oleaginous line, and added what will surely become known as the Cameron defence – ‘we have all been in this together’.
Scene: a secret bar located in the basement of Number Ten. The Prime Minister and his Director of Communications sit alone sipping lager.
dc: Coalition’s not going so well.
ac: Oh my God, sir!
dc: Press hounds everywhere, sniffing at our backsides.
The twilight shadows of Southern Cross have today grown longer, as news emerges that the troubled care home chain is to shut down. The chill of closure will be felt most keenly by the 31,000 vulnerable residents and their families, but the shadow is a long one. Southern Cross’s opco-propco business model, which separates out the operating interest, Southern Cross, from the property owning interests, the care home landlords, has become increasingly popular over the last decade A number of health and care businesses have adopted a similar approach, including the private hospital and ISTC operator Circle, tipped to take over operation of the bust NHS Hinchingbrooke Hospital later this year. Could the cross of Southern’s shadow extend as far as, even cross, Circle’s circle? Almost certainly, the answer is yes.
There has been something of a trumpet voluntary on the whistleblowing front over the last week. The King, Queen and Godfather of medical whistleblowers have co-authored a paper, which the JRSM has foolishly – it’s about whistleblowing, for Heaven’s sake – hidden behind a paywall – only to allow its publication, via Queen Blow’s own website. Radio Horlicks simmered away on Thursday, with a half hour Report featuring the shimmery voiced Dr Kim Holt. And the Eye (related website here) has produced a Shoot The Messenger NHS Whistleblowing ‘Special’, an eight page dossier of gagged and stuffed doctors hung out to dry, complete with red borders and menacing target images. Queen Blow, however, is conspicuous by her absence from this report – apparently following an iPal tiff – so leaving the Eye a Wonderbra short on the sex appeal front.
Next time you meet a nurse, ask him or her what the NHS reforms are about. Almost certainly the answer will be ‘I’m not really sure…I don’t really understand them’.
Next time you see your doctor, ask him or her what the NHS reforms are about. A few might know, and give their version, seen through their political prism, but from the rest, the answer will be: ‘Waterworks OK?’ Sub-text: stop asking me stupid questions I don’t know the answers to.
Email your MP and ask them what is his or her position on the NHS reforms, and nine times out of ten you will get his or her party’s standard issue response. Probe further, and it will become clear that he or she hasn’t the foggiest.
Millipede, Master of the Trivial Pursuit, continued his chase of the ineffable at PMQs earlier this week. He posed vexing questions, one after the other. Or maybe he vexed, posing questions. No one was quite sure. The PM was riled, having just been told to shut it by the speaker, and had no intention whatsoever of playing Mornington Crescent – by Stott’s Fifth Ammendment rules or any other for that matter – with the Right Hon. Gent. for Doncaster North. Instead, the PM had about him the air of a man who wanted to shoot something, preferably something with horns on it, like the Hon. Gent. opposite, but tiresomely had shot his gillie, or maybe it was his wife, instead.
Meanwhile, the Hon. Gent. for Doncaster North continued to bombard the PM with the kind of questions more commonly found in the economy ranges of Christmas crackers. It was said he might ask how many fish swam in the Serpentine, or how many paperclips Mr Stephen Dorrell, MP, the once and future health secretary, had secreted in his ears. These, then, were the pressing questions the house was obliged to contemplate; and these, then, were the questions to which only Millipede knew the answers.