Sometimes the small points say a great deal. Yesterday Steve Rotherham, the Labour MP for Liverpool Walton, tabled a written parliamentary question about emails I obtained from the Care Quality Commission under Freedom of Information about patient safety concerns at Basildon.
Steve Rotheram: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will carry out an internal investigation into which officials in his Department released confidential emails to the hon. Member for North East Cambridgeshire. 
Norman Lamb: The Department understands that this parliamentary question relates to the release of emails sent or received by the then chief executive of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) during the month of January 2010. These emails were released by the CQC in response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request.
Internal processes were not properly observed on this occasion by the Department and the CQC. Internal investigations have revealed that this was a genuine oversight on behalf of officials, but nonetheless unacceptable.
The Permanent Secretary has taken immediate steps within the Department to ensure that officials who might deal with FoI requests are aware of, and act in accordance with, established processes. The Permanent Secretary has written to the chief executives of all departmental agencies and non-departmental public bodies to raise awareness of processes.
Labour’s Parliamentary Question does not challenge whether the emails are true. Nor does it dispute that the emails could have been released if the correct process had been followed. There is a clear public interest in disclosure given that they deal with the views of health officials on the subject of patient safety. Nor does it suggest the emails were policy advice to Ministers, commercially confidential, or legally privileged.
Instead it complains that on a technicality, namely that Cabinet Office sign off was not obtained as is required for emails relating to a previous government, the correct process was not followed in full.
So the crux is that Labour are concerned with the process about how this embarrassing information became public, rather than what the information actually says or that it is true.
Why does Labour still think patients should be kept in the dark? Have Mid Staffs, Morecambe, and the other scandals on their watch still not taught them that our NHS needs to be more open and honest about patient safety concerns?
Why should patients not be told if emails appear to suggest that the Department of Health is seeking to influence how or when concerns held by the healthcare regulator, the CQC, are made public?
The big challenge within our NHS – regardless of which party is in power – remains the huge gulf in knowledge between those on the inside – the clinicians, even us MPs, who can usually ask around and find out who is the best surgeon and who is the one best avoided – and those on the outside, our constituents, who tend to get what they are given. The information for informed patient choice by constituents is just not working.
All political parties say they support transparency. The Member for Leigh did great work on the scandal of Hillsborough in finally achieving transparency. Yet consistency requires the same openness on his own Ministerial decisions, not just those decisions from decades ago.
Yesterday’s Parliamentary Question shows what matters most for Labour on the NHS is still the process and the spin. It is missing the point. The priority should be the patient.
Stephen Barclay is the MP for North East CambridgeshireTags: Basildon, Care Quality Commission, NHS, Norman Lamb, Stephen Barclay, Steve Rotheram