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Private Eye

July 9, 2010

Dr Phil’s Private Eye Column Issue 1267, July 7, 2010
Filed under: Private Eye — Tags: , — Dr. Phil @ 2:39 pm

Tory Health Policy

 ‘Health secretary Andrew Lansley has just spoken to more NHS managers than he will ever do again’. So observed the Health Service Journal after he told the NHS Confederation conference that management costs (i.e. jobs) would be ‘shaved’ by a minimum of £220 million this year. Redundancy packages and Brazillians all round.

 According to Lansley, we’ll need fewer managers because targets will be abolished, GPs will be in charge of the money and an independent NHS board will ensure fair play. If only it was that simple. Targets per se are not a bad thing. If you can prove they improve outcomes for patients and the staff are given a degree of flexibility in implementing them intelligently, they work. If you enforce them with a rod of iron, irrespective of the clinical context – as Labour did too often – then they lead to bullying and disillusionment,  and harm as many patients as they help.

 Too many targets are inevitably counter-productive, like squeezing a tube of toothpaste in ten places at once. Labour’s failing was to believe that the NHS was a linear system, easily controlled by central levers. Doctors have never have been easy to control

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June 25, 2010

Dr Phil’s Private Eye Column Issue 1266, June 22, 2010
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 8:41 am

Commissioning Balls

 Health secretary Andrew Lansley has a touching faith in GPs if he thinks we can spend a £60 billion NHS commissioning fund wisely. Clinical staff should have the power to purchase services for patients, but the commissioners need to include representatives from hospitals and primary care, across all specialties, and the care they purchase needs to be integrated to avoid duplication and make sure patients get treated in the right place at the right time.

 MD does however have several commissioning suggestions. Firstly, stop commissioning NHS inquiries in secret. If a scandal has reached the level of requiring an inquiry, you can be sure lots of people knew about it and failed to act, and there are lots of powerful vested interests trying to minimise the fall-out.  Being able to give evidence in secret in the knowledge that it will never be made public is a strong incentive to continue the deception. Clinical staff and NHS managers are public servants, and if they can’t tell the truth in public, they aren’t fit to serve.

 The fact that Lansley has ordered a public inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire scandal after several expensive private inquiries is a case in point.

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June 12, 2010

Dr Phil’s Private Eye Column Issue 1265, June 8, 2010

A Sick Culture

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley may have promised to protect and support whistleblowers but the NHS culture he has inherited is so bullying and defensive that many staff won’t risk raising concerns. Doctors are the most powerful and trusted NHS employees but a recent survey of 384 doctors by the BMA in Scotland found that 40% did not report concerns about standards of care and staff behaviour, for fear of reprisal.  And a study last month in the British Medical Journal found that the content of the whistle-blowing policies of 118 NHS trusts was ‘overly cautious and negative.’

But it’s the experience of whistle-blowers themselves that puts most people off. John Watkinson, the former chief executive of the Royal Cornwall NHS Trust (RCNT) was sacked in 2008 for raising concerns about the lack of proper public consultation in a decision to amalgamate cancer services. (Eyes passim). He is still on the dole and his house is up for sale. Last month, an industrial tribunal unanimously found that he had been unfairly dismissed, concluding that his removal ‘was a travesty of anything approaching basic fairness’. Lansley has ordered an inquiry but RCNT has now appealed the decision, using more

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May 28, 2010

Dr Phil’s Private Eye Column Issue 1264, May 26, 2010

More Cornish Pastings….

Following the Eye’s coverage of the unfair dismissal of Cornish hospital boss John Watkinson (Eye last), health secretary Andrew Lansley has ordered NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson to launch an inquiry.  Of particular interest is whether the South West strategic health authority, headed by Sir Ian Carruthers,  pressurised the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT) into sacking Watkinson when he blew the whistle on their avoidance of proper public consultation  before moving a cancer service to Plymouth. Whether Sir David is the man to scrutinise Sir Ian is unclear. Sir Ian, himself a former acting NHS chief executive, has long been Sir David’s close friend and mentor.  And Sir Ian chaired the panel that recommended the knighthood for Sir David this year.

South West SHA has mounted a robust defence of Carruthers. In a letter to Health Policy Insight, regional director of public health Dr Gabriel Scally wrote: ‘ The claim for unfair dismissal was made not against Sir Ian Carruthers or the South West Strategic Health Authority but against RCHT, which made its own decisions acting on independent legal advice.‘ This is at odds with the recollection of John Mills, RCHT Chair at the time of

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May 16, 2010

Independent on Sunday: ‘Top-level review ordered into sacking of whistle-blower
Filed under: Private Eye — Tags: , , , — Dr. Phil @ 11:45 am

Top-level review ordered into sacking of whistle-blower
New Health Secretary promised before election to give better protection to concerned NHS staff ‘moles’

By Nina Lakhani
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/toplevel-review-ordered-into-sacking-of-whistleblower-1974694.html
Sunday, 16 May 2010

The new Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, has ordered an unprecedented high-level investigation into why a senior NHS manager was sacked for whistle-blowing.

John Watkinson was dismissed from his post as chief executive by the Royal Cornwall Hospital NHS Trust (RCHT) in 2009 following pressure from the Strategic Health Authority (SHA), which oversees the NHS in the South-west.
An employment tribunal ruled last week that the Mr Watkinson was clearly “to be got rid of” after he refused to close a local cancer service without proper public consultation. His resolve to fulfil the legal obligation to consult patient groups was seen as an “irritant” to SHA bosses, determined to move the upper gastro-intestinal cancer service to a larger centre in Devon.

The tribunal panel was highly critical of the fact the SHA chief executive, Sir Ian Carruthers, and chairman, Sir Michael Pitt, were not called by the Trust to give evidence. Several witnesses refused to answer straightforward questions and key documents were also

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