Chris Lancelot on…The NHS blame game

Over the past nine years a change in attitude has occurred that is as corrosive and deep-rooted as it is malign. Politicians have begun to believe that the systems they have created are perfect: thus any failures must be the fault of individuals who should be singled out, named and blamed.

Scapegoating individuals for system failures is redolent of Stalin’s Russia, with its oppressive, centralised organisation and its show trials. This same mind-set has now crept into Britain — probably due to the government believing its own spin about the ‘wonderful’ organisations it has created.

The NHS is overspent? It’s not the fault of the system — it’s the doctors: they’re overpaid (all that quality framework money). And they refer too much, so they are both incompetent and lazy. It couldn’t possibly be the excess of managers, the built-in bureaucratic inefficiencies, or its colossally expensive IT programme, now could it?

And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with Connecting for Health’s (CfH) software, according to its head, Richard Granger. It’s the users who can’t follow the instructions. (May I remind him that decent software automatically installs itself properly, is unambiguous and, above all, runs quickly?)

CfH is also perfectly secure, allegedly. So when health workers demonstrated convincingly that its ‘secure’ patient contact details were wide open to anyone with an NHS card but no professional connection with the patient, did CfH thank them for pointing out the loophole? No, they did not. Their first response was a veiled threat to punish those who had used their NHS cards to demonstrate the existence of the problem — followed by a restatement that the whole system was absolutely inviolable.

After Shipman, what did the government do? Recognise that death certification could do with an overhaul? No. It tried to blame the very doctors who had finally exposed Shipman. That’s gratitude. Then it implied that all GPs were potentially incompetent, requiring mass revalidation.

And we all know about flu vaccine deficits, don’t we? There wasn’t enough to go round last year. Who was blamed? GPs — we immunised the wrong people, said the government.

No, there’s nothing wrong with the system: the system is perfect. It’s just us — the stupid people at the sharp end — who make it fail. I really must remember that.

- Dr Lancelot is a GP from Lancashire.

Email him at GPcolumnists@haymarket.com

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Doctors call for test and trace millions to be diverted to primary care and local NHS

Doctors call for test and trace millions to be diverted to primary care and local NHS

Doctors have urged the government to divert hundreds of millions of pounds from the...

Hundreds of GPs a month seek mental health support as COVID-19 pressure bites

Hundreds of GPs a month seek mental health support as COVID-19 pressure bites

More than 200 GPs a month are seeking mental health support as COVID-19 drives up...

Viewpoint: GPs will be there for patients this winter, but at what cost?

Viewpoint: GPs will be there for patients this winter, but at what cost?

Rising to new challenges is in GPs' DNA and the profession has not let patients down...

Red flag symptoms: Diarrhoea

Red flag symptoms: Diarrhoea

The red flag symptoms that indicate potentially serious causes of diarrhoea in adults.

GPs to be told 'shortly' how they can reclaim PPE costs

GPs to be told 'shortly' how they can reclaim PPE costs

Information on how practices will be reimbursed for PPE costs incurred during the...

GPs demand support as COVID hotspots sound alarm over rising workload

GPs demand support as COVID hotspots sound alarm over rising workload

GP leaders have accused the government of 'behaving as if the second wave is an unexpected...