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Thursday 13 June 2013

NHS Death Horror Take 1200

Sometimes the press adopts the stuck needle pose (those of you not familiar with music on vinyl, ask an older person) and appears not to understand that its repetition just for the sake of it is not proving productive. So it has been after the remarkably coincident ranting of the Sun and Mail at the NHS for apparently making pay-offs to departing employees conditional on confidentiality.
There seems to be an agreement within the Fourth Estate that this kind of thing applies only to the parts of public service they like to bad mouth, and the EU. I can tell those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet that it applies across both public and private sectors, and that is the reason that many people do not take to the airwaves slagging off former employers.

But, as Clive James might have said, I digress. The discovery that some people have had to sign confidentiality agreements has meant one thing: despite his having announced his imminent departure, David Nicholson is now being told that he has to go even sooner (were he to end it all by jumping under a train, Paul Dacre would complain that the train was not of a type which met with his approval).

So why should Nicholson depart even sooner? What slice of damning evidence is being marshalled in support of this argument? Have the Mail and Sun discovered some new and yet more appalling episode in the NHS that demands instant retribution by as many hacks and pundits as can be summoned? Don’t bother expecting anything new, because there isn’t anything new.

Sun Says lays it on the line: “He passed the buck over the 1,200 deaths at Stafford Hospital which happened on his watch”. The tedious and unfunny Richard Littlejohn at the Mail takes a short break from farting in the shallow end to assert “he was the hospital administrator who presided over the deaths of 1,200 patients in Mid-Staffordshire”. I told you it wasn’t exactly original.

Now, as Zelo Street has noted on more than one occasion, there is no question that there were instances where standards of care at Stafford Hospital were, to put it directly, not good enough. Patients suffered unnecessarily. This is not in dispute. What has been shown, time and again, to be wrong is the “1,200 deaths” figure. This was a result of poorly coded patient information.

Those wanting to see the story behind this number should consult Steve Walker’s excellent analysis HERE. In the meantime, no-one is stopping the press from commenting on David Nicholson, although it would be a nice change if that were occasionally based on facts, rather than pundits’ inept interpretation of figures that resulted from Stafford Hospital not having a coding manager at the time.

What does that PCC code of practice say about “accuracy”? Just asking, chaps.

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