Charles Moore is a brilliant writer. But I think he's gone too far in the article he's written for today's Telegraph about the NHS. I realise its suddenly become acceptable to point out the failings of the NHS. Hallelujah to that. Whenever I hear the NHS being discussed as if its manned by a million saints, I just roll my eyes. Yes we know there are committed and compassionate people working in the NHS. I've been treated by some of them. To me, Mr Hunt remains a God-like figure - and Tracey remains a caring angel. But I do think its right that Sec of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt takes a realistic approach, realising there are real problems to address - while not making knee-jerk blanket criticisms. As a general philosophy there should be hard-nosed audit to uncover problems, and a determination to put matters right. To build on a recent speech comment that went well "Just because there are a few bad drivers, you don't scrap the Highway Code - just ban the bad drivers"
What happened at Mid Staffordshire was shocking in its awfulness. Its incredible that no-one is being held responsible - and that no-one has yet been charged, or even sacked. We saw supposed carers at the Winterbourne View Hospital being jailed recently for unacceptable behaviour. I'm signed up to Paul Burstow's Private Member's Bill to make corporate responsibility a criminal offence. And I'm involved in pressing for review of the Liverpool Care Pathway to ensure its used properly after negative press reports. Surely allowing hundreds of people to die unnecessarily is much worse than any of this. I'm one who finds it difficult to understand why the man at the top of the West Midland Strategic Health authority at the time, and Chief Exec of the NHS can possibly stay in his job. Whether he's a good man or not is simply irrelevant. Its a question of public confidence.
Its also not credible that there aren't other cases where patients have died in large numbers because of unacceptable care. Its right that the hospital trusts with the worst 'death rates' should be independently investigated - though I do accept that statistics can mislead. The Medical Director of the NHS, Sir Bruce Keogh is shortly going to announce the 12 hospital trusts he is going to investigate to ensure there hasn't been another 'Mid Staffs'. I was inevitably concerned to read that the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Hospital Trust is 7th on the list of NHS trusts with highest rates of recorded deaths above expected levels during 2009-2012 - according to a report in today's Telegraph. This is my local NHS Trust. Its frightening, when I think of the people I've known from Montgomeryshire who have died there. We do not yet know whether it will be on Sir Bruce's list or that there have been unnecessary deaths from 'poor care'. I do hope not, but I owe it to my constituents to follow up this matter with determination.