At the start of this week, the Telegraph published a comprehensive story about the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust public inquiry which resulted in only one of many NHS executives being blamed for appalling patient care actually being disciplined. The other executives, it seems, went on unscathed with their ascent up the career ladder.
The Telegraph was particularly interested in Mr Yates, the Trust’s CEO, who refused to give evidence on the grounds that his stress was great enough to ruin all future employment. Mr Yeates left with £400,000 and a pension of approximately £1.27 million. What happened to him next career terms is astonishing. As the Telepgraph explains:
“Mr Yeates has now returned to the health care sector, with a job as chief executive of a Shropshire-based charity, Impact Alcohol and Addiction Services, which holds contracts with the NHS.”
So that fact that Mr Yates was blamed for appalling patient care, refused to give evidence or present himself for cross-examination and left proclaiming he would never return doesn't seem to have harmed his career.
As the Telegraph explains, Mr Yeates imposed widespread job cuts to the rungs of the ladder below him. He saw that the NHS spent over a million on redundancies and over 150 nurses left through redundancy or retirement in a two year period.
In such circumstances, who do you complain to when your ward is hopelessly short staffed because the top brass have failed to replace nurses who have retired? Who can help with rising stress levels when all the nurses on a ward are being re-interviewed for their current jobs as they’re all in a redundancy pool?
Even when a public enquiry specifically blames individuals at the top, it seems they’re made of Teflon. And the stress, fear and frustration of working in such a culture cannot result in anything but a lowering standard in patient care - which nobody wants.
Until we shake the incompetent from the top of the ladder, I don’t see how things will change.