Saturday, 9 March 2013

While they keep cookin', I'll keep stirrin'.


It’s Ok, Boss -

I’ll Cooka Da books

So, why not sort out the NHS by privatising it? Some good old free enterprise can do the job where the state has failed.

Really good idea. We can pay the staff minimum wage with no sick pay or holidays and no irritating job security or pensions.

How does it work out in practise? Well in Cornwall it’s what they did with the out of hours emergency G.P callout service – they come out when you ring for a Doctor at 0200 am. The contract went to SERCO, that’s a security company that normally transports prisoners to Courts in some parts of the country. Very relevant.

According to the National Audit Office (NAO) this week, SERCO has been fiddling its figures so that it met its targets when reporting to the NHS, avoiding financial penalties or losing the contract. This is something that the company denies. Hmmm.

Parliaments Public Accounts Committee (PAC) asked the NAO to investigate and the result was a report that showed that SERCO often did not have enough staff to meet requirements, and when that happened it often dealt with the problem by fixing the figures.

Between January and June 2012 alone, SERCO fiddled the figures 252 times (NAO)

According to the Right Honourable Margaret Hodge M.P., chair of the PAC; “I find it disgraceful that SERCO fiddled the figures on an astonishing 252 occasions. This tampering presented a false, much rosier picture of its poor performance. In one instance, SERCO falsely claimed 100% of emergency callers had a face-to-face appointment within 60minutes when, in reality, it was only 75%, falling short of the performance standard”.

It was 252 fiddles in just 6 months – now we need to look at the figures for the whole contract.

The Primary Care Trust which signed the contract was criticised for failing to spot any of this, which only came to light as a result of the actions of two courageous un-named whistleblowers, who took a stand despite what the PAC described as a climate of fear at SERCO in Cornwall. Good for them, and by the way this was a fraud against the taxpayer they were exposing.


       BOOK ‘EM DANNO !

Even though this is potentially a multi-million pound fraud, what’s the betting nothing happens?


Meanwhile, Dr Wirin Bhatiani, the Chair of Bolton’s new Clinical Commissioning Group is entitled to take a bow; he has succeeded in forcing Bolton NHS Foundation Trust to employ the ‘Dr Foster’ organisation to investigate Royal Bolton Hospital.

Their interim report just out, shows that ‘Coding’ of more than half of 150 cases checked, failed to reach National Standards – this is where Bolton had a sudden rapid increase in ‘death from septicaemia’ (which doesn’t count on the figures) instead of deaths from the categories of illnesses which do count and make the Hospital look as though its failing (It’s a miracle!). The Chief Executive has had to stand aside, now there will be a ‘full investigation’ of all the cases.

Three cheers for Dr Wirin Bhatiani.

Three cheers for the two SERCO workers in Cornwall.

If people are prepared to take this kind of stand then managers weighing up whether to save lives or just fix the figures will be a little more likely to make the right decision in future.

By the way, I'm back!

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

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