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Mad Pat redefines ‘stabilising’

Patricia Hewitt

The NHS is now in £521,000,000 debt. That’s quite a lot. More than twice as much as this time last year, in fact.

When responding to the last set of figures last December, Patricia Hewitt, our esteemed Health Secretary, announced that she would have the debt down to £250,000,000 by April. It’s now June, and she’s nowhere near – in fact, she’s heading in the wrong direction altogether, despite firing 12,000 people, cancelling countless operations, and reducing the quality of patient care. Yet today in Mad Pat world…

The NHS is now stabilising this financial problem while counting to improve services for patients.

Doubling of debt equals ‘stabilising this financial problem’. This new definition is very handy. Blood pressure doubled in 12 months? Don’t bother treating it, it’s stable! Tumour size doubled? Don’t worry about that cancelled op, your tumour’s stable! Think of the savings that can be made!

Doctors can see what’s wrong here. The BMA Consultants Committee said

Yes, bad management is a problem in some places, but the biggest cause is the interference from government. Something is going badly wrong and it is demoralising for staff.

We know the nurses are against her following the extraordinary action at their conference.

This demonstrates that even medical students, not yet employed by the NHS, aren’t fans:

[audio:nhs.mp3]

And, hey-ho, the Confederation of the managers Mad Pat was so criticised for introducing in the first place is even against her:

It is all too easy to blame individual managers, but the financial problems often relate to systemic issues.

And, surprise surprise, the Opposition knows what’s wrong:

Policy is failing.

So who’s backing Mad Pat? Well, apparently, Mr Blair. Despite her coming out with meaningless misjudged announcement after meaningless misjudged announcement, even after missing her own targets by miles, there’s still no suggestion that she might be unfit for the position.

Nobody in the NHS likes her, she polls badly, and she doesn’t meet targets. Why on Earth is she still in office?

This 883rd post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics.

‘Mad’ Patricia Hewitt strikes again

Patricia HewittMs Hewitt’s spell of virtual insanity continues, with her now announcing that she wants to make those who spread MRSA criminals:

Private cleaning contractors, managers and even visitors could face criminal liability for spreading the hospital superbug MRSA in the NHS.

Presumably, these people would then be forced to wear the uniforms proposed by her Crazy Cabinet colleague, Hazel Blears.

But, seriously, what does Ms Hewitt hope to acheive by making spreading MRSA a crime? To do so would mean that doctors would have to take every possible step to avoid litigation – is she seriously suggesting that all doctors should have a full surgical scrub before seeing every patient? That would more than triple the length of the average consultation, so I hope she’s got some money squirrelled away for lots of extra doctors. And what about the emergency situation? Are we all to completely scrub up before performing emergency procedures? A few more deaths might well be occuring if that’s expected.

MRSA will only be brought under control with sensible steps to educate medical staff and the public about prevention, and the necessary funding to keep hygeine standards up. If the funding had been available to put alcohol gel next to every bed five or six years ago – instead of only just getting round to it – then MRSA wouldn’t be such a big a problem now. Threatening people with litigation is simply absurd, and deeply unhelpful. And if she’s going to start slapping fines on cleaning companies, standards are unlikely to improve much but costs will sky-rocket. So I hope there’s lots of money available for the government to pay its own fines, too.

Update: Typo corrected

This 587th post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics.

Removing children’s TV from BBC One is madness

BBC One should reflect the whole of the UK in its output.

That’s a key part of BBC One’s remit. I get that the ratings are better on the CBBC channel, and I sympathise with that position; but I simply don’t see how BBC One can meet it’s remit without kid’s programmes. BBC Two hasn’t got over the existential crisis it had because of BBC Three and Four, yet they’re inviting the question: “What’s BBC One for?”

It also invites criticism, means that they have to find (and pay for) something to plug the gaps in the schedule, and reduces awareness of kid’s TV amongst the people who actually pay for it. As strategies go, it seems like madness.

This 1,649th post was filed under: Diary Style Notes, Media, News and Comment.

BBC’s Madeleine McCann coverage indefensible

Peter Horrocks has written an interesting piece on his BBC blog defending the way the organisation has told the story of Madeleine McCann’s disappearance. Unfortunately, his defence makes little sense. Some selected extracts…

Often we’re not able to give viewers any new information and that’s one of the things I spend a lot of time talking to my journalists about, to focus on facts … I know that many other TV and radio networks have been absolutely extraordinary, always talking about it in terms of sympathy and their feelings

I am incomplete agreement with Mr Horrocks here: Reportage of the facts, not of feelings, is exactly where BBC News should be focussed in this instance.

Questions have been raised over why we used a helicopter to cover the McCanns’ journey home from East Midlands airport.

An understandable question: Coverage of a car driving from one place to another has apparently little news value, and adds few new ‘facts’. So why did the BBC cover it?

The McCanns’ return was an important emotional moment in this story, and something which we felt we needed to cover for continuous news.

Eh? The BBC, which Mr Horrocks says focuses entirely on facts, and indeed is better than its rivals because of its emotional detachment from the story, felt the need to give continuous coverage to a car journey because it was an “emotional moment in this story”.

I sense a gap in the logic.

This 1,208th post was filed under: Media, News and Comment.


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