The world can gasp at Matt Hancock’s rehabilitation in i’m a celebrity, but there is a serious question as to why he had such a low reputation in the first place, being personally blamed for the deaths of thousands of Covid victims. It is true that he made many serious mistakes, especially by allowing patients to be discharged from hospitals to nursing homes without undergoing tests. However, whatever you think of Hancock, he wasn’t responsible for all the bad decisions. Put bluntly, we have an NHS that manages to shift the blame for everything that goes wrong squarely onto the shoulders of the health secretary, while the people in charge of the NHS, especially those running failing hospitals and primary care services, remain comfortably invisible.
Do you even know who runs the local hospital trust or integrated care board? I doubt it. Unless you have a nerdy interest in healthcare organization, you’re unlikely to know what an Integrated Care Board is (they’re successor organizations to the Clinical Commissioning Groups, abolished in July). All you can be sure is that the people who determine when your hip can be replaced or whether you will be allowed to have a hernia operation are certainly earning more than £100,000 a year (a salary exceeded by 2,000 NHS managers), and most likely earning more than £200,000 (a salary exceeded by 600 employees). But the chances of seeing them on local television or being interviewed in the local press explaining why they will have to wait a couple of years for an operation are pretty slim.
Amanda Pritchard, anyone? I’m pretty sure her name would create blank faces around a quiz table in a pub. But it should be a name as well known as Matt Hancock or Steve Barclay. She is the Chief Executive of NHS England.the public official with the largest budget in the country: £153 billion of our money this fiscal year. Their the salary itself represents £255,000 Out of that budget, I’m sure you’re doing a tough job to the best of your ability, but wouldn’t it be nice if you were on TV or radio a little more often to explain what you’re doing instead of hiding it? behind the secretary of health? It would also be interesting to know why the NHS was unable to find someone with a medical degree to do their job, rather than a history graduate who got a head start on his NHS administration career by serving as a policy expert in the government of Tony Blair. .
But it’s not just her. Over the last few decades, NHS trusts have been given the delegated powers and budgets that many demanded. The entire system is now based on local decision-making, and our access to healthcare is ultimately governed by boards of dignitaries who serve on integrated care boards. Good, or rather it would be good if these people were publicly responsible for their decisions. But who are they? Things have not progressed in this direction since the Middle Staff Scandal during the last days of the Blair government, when patients were left unfed and unwashed while Stafford Hospital sought semi-independent status as a trusteeship. We had reports and investigations, but no one seemed to be at fault, just the “systems”. I bet things wouldn’t have been allowed to get so out of hand if Martin Yeates, the CEO of Mid Staffs, had had to answer directly to patients and their families as a quid pro quo for more independence. Yeates, who quit on six months’ salary plus a £400,000 payout, even escaped cross-examination in Sir Robert Francis’ report on the scandalclaiming stress.
If you’re feeling better now, perhaps you’d like to be the next to go into the jungle and explain your failings, while serving executives submit to answering questions about current shortcomings in the NHS.