Where is the accountability?

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IF South Yorkshire’s under-fire police and crime commissioner had any compunction when it came to the 1,400 young people who were groomed – and then sexually violated – by Pakistani gangs in Rotherham for 18 years, Shaun Wright would have tendered his resignation at the very moment that he received sight of Professor Alexis Jay’s damning report.

IF South Yorkshire’s under-fire police and crime commissioner had any compunction when it came to the 1,400 young people who were groomed – and then sexually violated – by Pakistani gangs in Rotherham for 18 years, Shaun Wright would have tendered his resignation at the very moment that he received sight of Professor Alexis Jay’s damning report.

That Mr Wright chose not to take the only honourable course of action open to him does not merely undermine public confidence in the credibility of his office. The resulting outcry also diverts attention from the need to support those children who were so let down by the authorities in the South Yorkshire town, not to mention the need to bring their assailants to justice.

This should not be about one individual; this injustice is about the betrayal of hundreds of vulnerable youngsters. Yet Mr Wright’s mealy-mouthed interviews and flimsy excuses have created the unfortunate impression that he places a greater premium on his own job prospects than his questionable record as chairman of the children’s services committee on Rotherham Council from 2005 until 2010.

As Prof Jay said in her findings that have not been disputed, Mr Wright knew about the relevant issues and his decision to blame “systemic failings” is somewhat disingenuous. Allocating extra funds, one defence put forward by the crime commissioner, does not excuse the failure to prevent this abuse escalating to the extent that it did.

Yet Mr Wright’s obfuscation also reflects poorly on the moral fibre of a political establishment that has tolerated ineptitude for too long, whether it be in Rotherham or elsewhere. There needs to be far greater accountability on the part of public servants – whether they be paid officials or elected councillors

There should not be a presumption that they can keep their jobs if they err on this scale. The difficulty is achieving this when Labour cannot exercise control over its crime commissioner and when the Home Office says relevant disciplinary matters are a matter for Rotherham Council – the very body that failed to provide sufficiently adequate leadership in the first place.

GP prescription

A remedy for out-of-hours care

GIVEN the pressures on GP surgeries, it is hardly surprising that people are clogging up already overstretched accident and emergency units because they do not want to wait a week or longer to see a doctor.

GPs are the frontline of the NHS. If they fail to function properly, than the rest of the healthcare system falls down, leading to a knock-on effect that puts patients with more serious ailments at genuine risk.

This bottleneck underlines why there is a need for greater urgency on the part of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to widen the provision of out-of-hours care so that working people can attend their local surgery in the evenings, freeing up appointments for others during the day.

However, there are other options available to people before they turn in desperation to the nearest A&E department.

Walk-in centres, minor injury units and centres where you can see a GP without making an appointment are all viable options, as is a trip to the local pharmacist for advice.

The NHS 111 telephone service may not have been without its teething problems, but this, too, can provide important guidance. The problem is that these options are not given adequate publicity, leading increasing numbers to the door of A&E.

If this stampede cannot be halted, one solution to the issue would be a simplified system which saw this range of services housed under one roof at local hospitals. Here, trained health professionals could operate a triage system that assesses individual cases in terms of their urgency. It’s not rocket science, is it?

Right direction

Signpost Bedale off the A1M

AS ONE of the gateways to the Yorkshire Dales, it is understandable that Bedale traders fear they will lost custom when a bypass is finally built around the North Yorkshire town.

Yet, given the overall cost of this scheme, it should be possible for the Highways Agency to provide adequate brown tourist signs from the A1M.

The problem is that this is the same Highways Agency which refused to reinstate signs to the market town of Masham when a stretch of the A1M was widened.

However a morning in the company of Welcome to Yorkshire chief Gary Verity should be sufficient to point the appropriate executives at this quango in the right direction.

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