X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week. If you receive it, you’ll also find your subscriber number at the top of our weekly highlights email.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050. If you’ve only just subscribed, you may not yet have been issued with a subscriber number. In this case you can use the temporary web ID number, included in your email order confirmation.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

If you have any difficulties creating an account or logging in please take a look at our FAQs page.

Coffee House

Being squeamish about the NHS won’t stop another Stafford Hospital

7 February 2013

9:25 PM

7 February 2013

9:25 PM

Should heads roll over the Mid Staffordshire Hospitals Trust scandal? I ask only because as I listened to Mark Carney giving evidence to the Treasury Select Committee for several hours this morning, I found myself browsing through a number of articles on this site and others about the Libor scandal. Back in those heady days of George Osborne accusing Ed Balls of having questions to answer, and Bob Diamond resigning from Barclays ahead of his appearance before the same select committee, people were very keen for heads to roll, and not just those sitting on bankers’ necks. They were also keen that those who performed badly when questioned about their suspicions of Libor fixing didn’t rise to higher positions, with Paul Tucker watching his own shot at the job Carney has now won slipping away.

Quite unsurprisingly in the circumstances, the relatives whose campaigning brought matters to a head do want Sir David Nicholson to resign as NHS chief executive. But David Cameron himself was very careful to echo the Francis Report’s insistence that the response to the scandal shouldn’t involve seeking out scapegoats. When journalists asked the Downing Street spokeswoman about it this afternoon, she repeated the PM’s scapegoats line, adding that since the Mid-Staffs scandal, a number of changes have already been carried out. And as Dan Hodges points out in his Telegraph blog, those on the left who usually expend considerable effort attacking the government on health matters were just a little quiet yesterday when the Francis report was published. There has been a noticeable reluctance to apportion individual blame in these circumstances when other scandals have led not just to a great deal of soul-searching about how the system worked, but about its protagonists, too. No doctors or nurses have been struck off, although Cameron was more robust on this yesterday, arguing that the regulators involved needed to answer questions about why healthcare professionals were not held accountable. Will heads roll at the regulators, too?

[Alt-Text]


Now, obviously in many cases it’s easy for witch hunts that force a resignation to start, particularly when 24 hour news and social media means that everything moves at double-speed. But whether or not heads should roll at the top, there’s an important lesson from this which is that the NHS remains so sacrosanct even after yesterday’s revelations that parts, including its staff, remain untouchable. As well as avoiding blaming anyone, including those members of the last Labour government opposite him in the Chamber as he delivered the statement, David Cameron made sure he started his statement with that familiar ‘I love the NHS’ caveat.

This problem goes beyond whether people should or shouldn’t be sacked, because it’s even more important that things change to stop another Stafford Hospital situation occurring in the future. It shows quite how nervous politicians are about appearing to go too far on the NHS. And that is a big problem because, as Ross Clark explores in his cover feature for this week’s Spectator, there needs to be a solution beyond ‘lessons learned’ for those failing hospitals like Stafford. That could well involve allowing private-sector providers to take over the running of hospitals, a suggestion which immediately provokes that accusation of going too far from trade unions and commentators alike. If politicians are going to continue to be squeamish about blaming NHS employees – whether at the top of the service or those changing the bed sheets –  they’ll be squeamish about suggesting that anything other than a state-owned monolith might be a sensible way of running the free at the point of delivery health service that the British public feels so emotional about. And as anyone who works in the health service knows, squeamishness is not a helpful character trait at all.

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close