Morals needed as trust in ‘self-serving’ professionals drops

THEY ARE the professions that were held in the highest esteem - but trust in doctors, lawyers and teachers has dropped as “self-serving” professionals have pushed the link between public service and the common good to breaking point.

Trust in doctors, teachers and lawyers has dropped.

The think-tank ResPublica said professionals must be more moral to rebuild trust between patients. clients or students that has been eroded due to scandal and whistle-blowing.

It cited the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust scandal and teacher drop-outs as examples of the diminishing link between professions and public good and said that the very idea of professions as a force for public good is at risk.

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“They have increasingly come to be regarded as hostile to newcomers or challengers and uncaring about those whom they served, being simply fierce defenders of their own unwarranted interests,” the report said.

In hospitals, it recommends that problems should be pre-empted and responded to as soon as they arise, instead of relying upon whistle blowing; while lawyers should swear an oath upon qualification to restore clients’ trust and introduce a pro-bono obligation to produce 30 million hours of free legal advice each year.

The report comes as a prominent legal figure warned that judges were earning less than they were eight years ago, and that judges’ salaries were falling “far behind” the earnings of leading barristers.

Adrian Jack, a former barrister who is now a Supreme Court justice in Gibraltar, successful lawyers might stop seeing a career as a judge as an “attractive” option.

Mr Justice Jack has outlined concerns in an article in a legal magazine Counsel.

He said: “Recruitment to the High Court bench is facing a crisis due to collapsing pay and pension. The salaries of judges are falling far behind the earnings of successful practitioners.”

Mr Justice Jack said a High Court judge’s take home pay was than £100,000, and pension changes introduced this year meant that younger judges pocketed less.

His criticism comes as it was revealed that the judge leading the independent inquiry into historic child sex abuse will earn a salary of £360,000 a year.

Justice Lowell Goddard will also receive an annual rental allowance of £110,000 and £12,000 a year to cover utilities.

In addition, the Home Office will cover the cost of four return flights from the UK to the judge’s native New Zealand per year for her and her husband, and further flights for other immediate family members.

Details of the pay packet have been disclosed after Justice Goddard formally opened the long-awaited probe last week.

Making her opening statement, Justice Goddard said she hopes the inquiry’s work will be completed by the end of 2020.

Home Secretary Theresa May, who established the probe last year, has approved a budget of £17.9 million for 2015/16.

Opening the inquiry on Thursday, Justice Goddard said £17.9 million is a “large sum” but she insisted it has been “carefully costed” and is “essential to meet the inquiry’s core operational requirements”.

The inquiry - set up last July following claims of a high-level cover-up of abuse - has been beset by delays following the resignations of two previous chairwomen.