The Witchfinder responds to Labour MP Andrew Burnham’s literally unbelievable comments on the Mid-Staffordshire Inquiry, that demonstrate that Labour still does not understand the paramount need for transparency, accountability and whistleblowing in the NHS.
Think back to your schooldays. Imagine your class. Say, what, 30 people? Picture them all dead. Needlessly. Now imagine school assembly. Say, 300 people? Picture them dead. Now twice that. Dead. Double again. Dead. All dead. 1,200 tragic, unnecessary, corpses.
That was the reality of the Mid-Staffordshire Inquiry. Under Labour’s culture of fear and cover-up, ‘trust’ (some might say voter perception) was more important than truth. As many as 1,200 people died needlessly under NHS ‘care’.
Brave relatives of the dead were calling for a public inquiry, for change from as early as 2007. Sadly the Labour government, with Andrew Burnham as Secretary of State for Health, commissioned investigations with a narrower remit. It was only in 2010 with the election of the coalition government that a full public inquiry was called by the incoming Conservative Health Secretary Andrew Lansley MP.
The damning report has led to reform and cultural and legal change. It has opened our eyes to the importance of properly scrutinising our public institutions. A follow-on report found similar failings throughout the NHS. It has saved lives. This is what Andrew Burnham thinks about it –
That was on Saturday. Even now the full horror of what has happened in the NHS has been brought to light, Andrew Burnham, Labour’s spokesman thinks that damage to the NHS Trust concerned was more important than getting to the truth.
Normal, decent people might say that if over a thousand people have needlessly died over a period of 4 years then clearly, damage to the reputation of the institution responsible is a secondary consideration.
All institutions, whether in the public or private sector, will have problems. Large businesses and state bodies will have their share of mistakes, negligence, deaths, wrongdoing, even perverts. That is a sad truth of human nature. A well run institution must have mechanisms to capture and correct problems.
The catastrophic state in which Labour has left the NHS, as illustrated by (for example) the Daily Mail’s excellent and harrowing investigation into the NHS in Wales shows that thanks to the Labour government, our institutions have ceased to be able to recognise their own problems.
The problem is not limited to the NHS. In Rotherham, gangs of paedophiles abused up to 1,400 young girls but the Labour council failed to get to grips with the problem. They knew all to well that under Labour, the bearer of bad news is the problem.
To be clear, there is no suggestion that whilst in office Andrew Burnham personally covered up poor care. Indeed, he threatened his successor Jeremy Hunt with defamation proceedings as a result of a tweet to that effect and Mr Hunt apologised.
Burnham also denies pressuring the CQC to tone down reports on Morecombe Bay NHS, although curiously he did not threaten to sue the Sunday Telegraph or Evening Standard for their articles containing the allegation.
Labour under Tony Blair was all about the ‘message’. Good news at any cost and woe to those who did not toe the line. The result is a culture of fear throughout the public sector that is proving incredibly difficult to weed out even now.
It is not enough for Labour politicians to mouth empty platitudes about transparency. In Rotherham, in Staffordshire, we have seen the reality. Rape and death on a literally biblical scale. How can the people of this country ever trust Labour again whilst Andrew Burnham MP still represents it in Parliament? Burnham’s incredible views are incompatible with public service. Burnham must go, and go for good.