Tom Richmond: Culture of managerial complacency must end

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THE reason why confidence is so low in the NHS and child protection – despite the professionalism shown by the overwhelming majority of care professionals day in and day out – can be explained, in part, by two arrogant interviews that were too appalling for words.

The first was from Andrew Reed, chief executive of Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust, who appeared oblivious to the degrading, and humiliating, treatment of elderly patients who had the misfortune to be admitted onto one of his wards.

Reed was simply in denial when challenged about the damning findings of the Care Quality Commission – and the comments of Angela Lawrence whose mother, Muriel Browning, was not fed properly, had water left beyond her reach and was given nappies rather than helped out of bed to use a commode. Animals are, frankly treated better – or their cruel abusers are prosecuted.

And then Sharon Shoesmith, the former director of children’s services at Haringey Council, claimed that “I don’t do blame” after, partially, winning an appeal over her sacking following the Baby P scandal.

Shoesmith went on to say tragic Peter Connelly died, after a lifetime of torture, because social services staff were waiting for four months for referrals to the police and local hospital. If this was so, why didn’t she – as head of her department – pick up the phone to the necessary powers-that-be.

I’m afraid that I am prepared to apportion blame – and it is this lack of public accountability, illustrated by these two appalling examples, and then the appalling scandal of the abuse of vulnerable adults in Bristol, that undermines the very good work being undertaken by many hospitals and social services staff.

And, as the NHS becomes the subject of a political tug-of-war between the Tories and Liberal Democrats, David Cameron and Nick Clegg should consider this: will the reforms make it more, or less, likely for inept managers – whether it be with private or public health providers – to be identified and then dismissed?

In short, this culture of managerial complacency, buck-passing and arrogance must end.

AS the stop-start nature of transport policy meanders along, with cities like Leeds still bereft of a creditable infrastructure, Ministers should perhaps consider the latest trends in Sheffield.

Bus usage is declining – while the number of people travelling by rail, or on the city’s tram network, continues to rise. The reason is complicated by mitigating factors – such as the impact of last winter’s snow.

Yet I suspect there is one over-riding factor behind this trend – the roads are becoming so gridlocked that bus travel is losing its convenience factor.

WHAT is the point of bringing the Tour de France cycle race to Yorkshire when the trains will not run on time, judging by East Coast’s shambolic service last weekend, and when Leeds Bradford International Airport charges motorists £2 for picking up or dropping off passengers?

Given that the airport will be able to rake in even more parking charges when the cycling circus rides into town, isn’t it time a body like Welcome to Yorkshire had a far greater say, and influence, over the running of public transport in these parts?

Especially as the region’s supposed flagship airport and rail operator are incapable of providing a warm welcome to visitors.

I SEE Alistair Darling – the man who had the misfortune to be Chancellor during Gordon Brown’s premiership – has finally come out against his old boss.

Darling, who was remarkably tactful during his Chancellorship as he tried to deal with the banking crisis and financial mess created by Brown, wants French finance minister Christine Lagarde to be the next head of the International Monetary Fund in place of the disgraced Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

“She has an easy-going manner and she gets on with people exceptionally well,” said Darling, whose endorsement is a further blow to Brown’s hopes of heading the IMF so he can lecture the world on matters of finance.

In other words, she has all the skills that Brown did not possess when he was in office.

IT look likes Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, realises that he needs to raise his game following his party’s disappointing local election results.

That’s the only logical explanation behind his decision to appoint Barnsley MP Michael Dugher as his Parliamentary Private Secretary in place of the vain Chuka Umunna who is too pre-occupied with promoting himself as ‘Britain’s Obama’.

Dugher, who will combine this role with his increasingly effective duties as shadow defence minister, is used to the political scheming and strategic thinking that Miliband’s office has lacked – he was formerly a spokesman for one Gordon Brown.

He’s also taken on the football might of Uefa after the world-famous Grimethorpe Colliery Band was denied permission to play on the Wembley pitch prior to the Champions League final.

AT least Jim Callaghan, the then Prime Minister, never uttered the phrase ‘Crisis? What crisis’ when he returned to Britain during the winter of discontent. It was, in fact, a headline in The Sun.

The same cannot be applied to disgraced Fifa chief Sepp Blatter who – with customary arrogance – played down the corruption crisis engulfing football following the flawed World Cup bid process by saying: “Crisis? What is a crisis? We are not in a crisis, we are only in some difficulties.”

If this is a local difficulty, I dread to think what Blatter constitutes to be a “crisis”.

One thing is certain, however. He’ll never be half as impressive as Callaghan who demonstrated a quiet dignity when the Labour Party, and the country, were ungovernable in the late 1970s.

tom.richmond@ypn.co.uk