August 19: Learning from NHS negligence

TODAY’S harrowing report into the latest cases of medical negligence investigated by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman should be placed in wider perspective – these failings, tragic for the families concerned, are not representative of the majority of patients successfully treated by Yorkshire’s hospitals each year and whose respect for the NHS is illustrated by the testimonials that are regularly published by this newspaper.

Yet the findings will also reopen the debate about whether care is being compromised by a lack of compassion, a shortage of resources – or a combination of both. However neither should be used as mitigating factors; the NHS budget has been ring-fenced and recent scandals, like the wilful neglect of elderly patients at hospitals in Mid Staffordshire and elsewhere, have led to a renewed focus being put on the quality of care offered by medical staff.

If they believe that the wellbeing of patients is being compromised, nurses and doctors should be able to report their concerns without fear of recrimination. Though whistleblowing procedures have been reformed, more needs to be done. Furthermore senior executives in managerial roles need to accept a greater share of responsibility – these are the individuals whose decisions shape the culture of a hospital – and they need to make it easier for grievances to be aired.

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For, while the caution of NHS trusts is understandable in cases that might result in litigation, most aggrieved people are motivated by a desire for mistakes to be eradicated so others do not suffer from sub-standard treatment. As such, it would be helpful if more hospitals and care homes recognised this reality – it might spare a lot of unnecessary angst in the longer term.

A history lesson

The defence of British values

LIKE the police, schools have a critical role to play to stop young Muslims being radicalised by those extremists whose repugnant views are a betrayal of the Islamic faith and this is reflected by the latest guidance issued to teachers.

The Government hopes that a reaffirmation of British values in the classroom will help students to challenge the Islamic State as the terrorist network looks to use the internet to indoctrinate the susceptible with a poisonous ideology which has no place in a civilised society.

Yet it is also important that this new approach does not stigmatise Muslim pupils – this country’s enduring values of liberty, democracy, friendship and tolerance are relevant to students of all religious faiths and this is illustrated by a new survey which revealed that one third of people had no idea of the Battle of Britain’s significance and of Sir Winston Churchill’s defining speech made 70 years ago tomorrow when he hailed the debt that the UK owed to those heroic RAF pilots who took the fight to Hitler’s Luftwaffe.

At a time when respect for the Armed Forces has never been higher, thanks in no small part to the confluence of milestone anniversaries allied to the First and Second World Wars, the fact that so many people do not comprehend the sacrifices made by their forebears can be attributed to one of two factors – ignorance or a failure to make history lessons more engaging. Perhaps a greater focus on the role of local communities in these global conflicts might make young people of all faiths appreciate the importance of British values and why they must be defended.

Racing certainty

The Yorkshire spirit at the Ebor

AS ONE of this county’s great sporting and social events, the Ebor festival has come to represent the very best of Yorkshire as up to 90,000 racegoers prepare to descend upon York’s Knavesmire over the next four days.

Not only does the flagship meeting continue to attract the very best horses – today’s feature Juddmonte International is now the highest-rated Flat race in the world and has attracted competitors of the calibre of the irrepressible Frankie Dettori’s Epsom Derby hero Golden Horn – but it also an unique opportunity for Yorkshire food, fashion and hospitality to be showcased to a wider audience.

This is in no small part due to the foresight of chief executive William Derby, and his 1,800-strong team of staff, in appreciating that top class sport and legendary Yorkshire hospitality is an unbeatable combination. That York will almost certainly excel at both this week is the racing certainty of the year.