At the end of last year I commented on the Health Service in Britain. There have been developments and they are not good, although should come as no surprise to anyone who thinks critically.
According to a public inquiry some 1,200 people have died unnecessarily at Mid Staffordshire Hospital. Patients were left in soiled beds for days, and some were so dehydrated because the nurses would not bring water that they drank from flower vases.
Anyone in the NHS or the Department of Health who thinks this is an isolated incident is certain to be disabused. Five other hospitals are under investigation, and a further fifteen have unusually high death rates.
This is a disaster, nothing less.
Who is to blame? Not the director of nursing at the time, one Dr. Helen Moss, who has been cleared by her professional body of misconduct. Not the Chief Executive, Martin Yeates, who despite a recommendation that his conduct be investigated, was not questioned and left his job with a £400,000 payoff. And not the head of the West Midlands Health Authority, Sir David Nicholson who got promoted to Chief Executive of the NHS and has confirmed he has nothing to apologise for.
So there you have it.
Actually there are other guilty parties: us. For years we have extolled the wonders of our Health Service (and to be fair, in the late '40s / early 50's it was internationally renowned) and then took our eyes off the ball while other nations created better, more manageable systems. For years the NHS was the largest employer in the world after the Red Army, and has only recently been overtaken by the Indian State Railways. David Cameron began his apology yesterday with 'I love the NHS'; the Olympics opening ceremony treated it as if it were a wonder; until now the British have been fulsome in their praise.
One of the unnecessarily bereaved has started a campaign called 'Cure the NHS'. It has its work cut out. There is a culture of laziness, of bitterness among the staff. The hospitals are dirty and disease is rampant. Consultants are overpaid and idle.
The NHS needs root and branch reform, from its funding to its management. I am betting they will just tinker.