Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Leadership failures; leadership triumphs

We all probably know cases of neglect and abuse in our hospitals from the care our elderly relatives receive. The disgusting details in the Francis report are indeed truly shocking but it is clear this is not an isolated case. And this abuse carries on. What was chilling in the "Today" programme report was that they had to get actors to speak the stories they had been told by nurses and carers of neglect and bad care. So the culture that punishes whistleblowers not the abusers continues; and this is not confined to hospitals. It was also a culture in the regulator, the CQC where even those that spoke out at their Board were victimised.

A culture is deeply engrained but stems from the leadership in any organisation. Those most at fault in this saga are the Leaders in management in the NHS and DH who set the boundaries and failed to act on abuse.

So no amount of new regulation will help if staff still feel they cannot speak out and patients and relatives cannot have complaints sorted.

It is now the task of the leadership of the service to stop making excuses about “cuts" and low staffing levels, or explain how the majority of care is good, and act. Reward whistle blowing. Take all complaints seriously. Sack those managers at the top who fail to change. To paraphrase Voltaire, a few sackings are needed “pour encourager les autres".

So the challenge for the NHS Chief Executive is a root and branch change in management culture which he must lead. And for all those in our new CCGs, use the power of commissioning to effect such change.

Turning from poor leadership to good; Cameron is to be congratulated for his stand on equal marriage. He is right; it is a step forward for the country. He has put belief and values ahead of party politics. This should always be applauded. In time; and I suspect not that long this will have settled down and be seen as correct and proper. In time even the Church establishments will calm down; just as they did when they realised their opposition to slavery was wrong, or in the case of Pope Pious Nine, that giving workers the vote was fine too.

And I agree with the PM's decision to appoint a new Chief Inspector of Hospitals. The other Chief Inspectors are good role models; people who speak out when they see abuse - like our Prisons Inspector Anne Owers. Fearless. To be afraid of. An avenging Angel. Appoint one now!

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