Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally

NHS in Colchester put government targets before treatment for cancer patients

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Colchester Hospital altered cancer patient records

Colchester Hospital altered cancer patient records

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse – it does. And this time, the police have been, rightly, called in.

Medics and managers at Colchester General Hospital in Essex doctored patient records about when they received cancer treatment to meet arbitrary Whitehall government targets. Patients were left waiting longer than the government target for treatment but the hospital altered their record to say they had been seen by a specialist earlier than they had been. People may have died as a result of delayed treatment. Inspectors found that out of 61 records viewed, 22 had been altered. The Care Quality Commission found the deliberate altering of records showed people had been “placed at risk of receiving care that was unsafe or not effective, due to delays in receiving appointments or treatment”.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, the newly appointed chief inspector of hospitals, has moved to recommend the hospital should be put into special measures whilst Essex Police investigate if doctors, nurses and managers have committed a criminal offence. If you caused harm to someone in the street, you’d be in the back of police van before you could say “I want to see my brief” but if the “wonderful” NHS kills patients, which it did in the thousands at Stafford Hospital between 2005-2008, it’s a different matter. We even have the man who was in charge of the NHS killing machine when it was in full flow at Stafford, Labour MP Andy Burnham, still denying responsibility and his current job is, sickeningly, Shadow Health Secretary.

Frankly, when news broke yesterday about Colchester Hospital fiddling the cancer treatment waiting times, I wasn’t surprised. When government targets were not imposed prior to 1997 it didn’t help; when the Labour Party imposed hundreds of targets – dropped from Whitehall –  it hasn’t helped either. In fact having top-down targets from Westminster seems to have unleashed the inner evil (and I use that word deliberately) in people. Nurses at Stafford Hospital displayed the behaviour of concentration camp guards rather than caring health professionals, leaving elderly women soiled in their beds and forced to drink water from dirty vases because they were so dehydrated. Oh, let’s recap: has anyone been prosecuted for these barbarous acts? Err, no!

The NHS is fundamentally flawed as an organisation. I can’t understand why when we now know State-run coal mining, State-run airlines, State-run telephone companies are not efficient and do not give a good service to customers must we continue to kid ourselves State-run healthcare is any different. Considering the NHS has the ability to kill or keep alive its ‘consumers’, more focus should be placed on providing a healthcare system which uses the most efficient working model. The State has been proven time and time again as useless at running organisations: how more people need to die before we look around the world for a better system of healthcare, such as in the Netherlands?

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Author: gavinmaclure

IT professional; political blogger, former Conservative councillor

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