Monday 14 April 2014

Hostility, defensiveness and denial

NHS: Indifferent murderers.
Around Staffordshire lie the graves of those who had the misfortune to be admitted to Staffordshire NHS.  Twelve hundred people lost their lives at this death camp, which makes it one of the worst peacetime massacres in recent British history.  And it's not difficult to see how it happened.

In a report released today, the Public Administration select committee highlights a culture of "hostility, defensiveness and denial" where complaints are concerned. It is not limited to the NHS and it has consequences.

"Britain will face another scandal like Mid Staffs, in which hundreds of patients died needlessly, unless there is a cultural 'revolution' (in the public sector)" says Bernard Jenkin.  Presumably this is where we get those recommendations of "radical reform" we have all heard so many times before.

“Unless and until we have a culture of leadership in public services that listens to, values and responds to complaints there will always be the potential for tragedies like Mid-Staffs." says Jenkin. The present culture is creating a "toxic cocktail" where the public no longer see any point in complaining.  "The consumer watchdog Which? highlighted a survey showing that 35 per cent of people who have cause to complain about the NHS choose not to do so."

This mirrors my own experiences complaining to the police and the council. Their approach to complaints is that if they stonewall for long enough, the plebs will simply go away.  And it works. Whenever you make a complaint to any branch of government, the reply will be hastily penned by a press officer or junior official, using corporate-speak phrases which fill a great deal of space - but say absolutely nothing. Though the subtext is always clear: Foxtrot Oscar.

After this report we will no doubt see yet another list of bureaucratic hoops added to the complaints process, with added statutory obligations, but in the end the "watchdogs" will remain toothless, inadequate and unable to exact any meaningful penalty.  This is largely because the measures we need to reform the public sector are politically inconvenient, and require action that no government wants to take: relinquishing power to the people.

In modern Britain the state is our master and we are the servants, so it comes as little surprise that public officials would see themselves more as livestock managers than servants of the public.  They are employees of our masters, carrying out their diktats and playing by their rules. Checking boxes matters more than serving the public.

Until such a time as our services are democratically accountable in the proper sense, ie accountable to those they supposedly serve, we won't have to wait long before the corpses pile up once more - and yet again we will hear the words "lessons will be learned" while our CEOcracy makes off with further perks and pay-rises.

It is that dynamic above all that creates a "toxic cocktail", and the only thing that surprises me thus far is that some enterprising psychopath hasn't put one of these parasites in their grave.  But at this rate, I suspect we won't have long to wait long for that either. When we see news like this almost every week, one can only conclude that these people are either taking the piss, or have simply grown tired of living and are trying to get murdered.

"A number of posts were made redundant- which the council says has saved more than £600,000. But five directors have seen their job titles - and responsibilities - change, bringing pay increases of as much as £25,000 a year. John Harrison, the new Executive Director of Resources, has also been awarded £30,000 in back pay dating back to 2011, when the committee agreed his responsibilities had increased after ruling out tasks he had taken on dating back to 2006."

When we have no influence in how our money is spent, and nobody is held accountable when mistakes are made, the social contract is shattered.  The moral obligation to pay taxes no longer exists (if ever it did).  We are paying taxes for their enrichment, paying more to receive less, and must make do with whatever we are given and never complain. While the natural British tendency is a bovine obedience to officialdom, I fear there are limits to our tolerance. This is why we need the Harrogate Agenda - because the alternative is blood on the streets.

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